Accepted Paper:

#PrecarityStory: Embodying the Academic Precariat  
Isabel Seguí (University of Edinburgh) Lorena Cervera (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

#PrecarityStory is a documentary about the working life of Isabel, a cleaner, researcher, and teacher at the same British university. This paper explores the process in which a filmmaker and an empowered subject challenge the current academic labour market and the collaborative mode of production.

Paper long abstract:

In 2019, precarious academics Lorena Cervera and Isabel Seguí decided to make a film to expose the increasing precarisation of academic labour at universities through the work story of Isabel who, at that time, was a cleaner, researcher, and teacher at the same British elite institution. This idea became a collaborative short documentary filmed during the higher education strikes organised by the University and College Union (2018-2020). #PrecarityStory (2020), is a (self-consciously) performative documentary (Bruzzi, 2006) inspired methodologically by the transmediatic form of Latin American testimonio. This means that the represented individual subject stands for a community (the academic precariat), and the film—although based in real stories— is an activist product in which ‘reality’ is managed creatively to further the political agenda of the filmmakers.

Collaborative modes of authorship and production in documentary have been addressed by several scholars and named with different labels. This paper explores the complexities of this approach in which a filmmaker and an empowered film subject —who share an immigrant status— join forces not only to challenge the exploitative nature of the current academic labour market but also to showcase and interrogate the mode of production of collaborative cinema. In this presentation, co-creators Lorena and Isabel reflect on: how the theoretical underpinnings of their shared research interests and perspectives (feminist, decolonial) have influenced their documentary practice; the complexities and negotiations in the co-creation process (Auguiste et al, 2020), including its utopian horizon and boundaries; the limits of representation; and the audience as co-creator.

Panel P06b
Worker's precarity: audio-visual representations of resistance
  Session 1