My recent interest/experience with organizing at the university against neoliberalization processes is what led me to start blogging here. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to do this. The struggle of the employees and students of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam on which I have based my thoughts and reflections in these posts, is still ongoing. So, too, is my interest and openness when it comes to hearing about others’ parallel experiences and/or analyses, particularly in creative ways that don’t necessarily stick to classic union formats or student organizing and appeal to broader participation.
Of course, I’m also curious to see whether and where links are made between the initiatives that focus on taking back control over the products of our work (through open access and other proposals concerning publishing) and initiatives that focus on gaining more control over the relations/conditions under which this work is produced at our universities (temporary contracts and overtime hours). I wonder what making these links would mean for our proposed solutions and alternatives, especially as public university funding shortages become increasingly related to governance problems.
My sense is that anthropologists are in a valuable position to be writing about, and sharing analytical reflections on, struggle in our midst. I attribute this to our discipline’s attunement to how structural inequalities work, but also ethnography’s aptness for attending to exactly how policy/management discourses can contrast with practices that make up people’s everyday lives, as well as the tendency among many of us to push for ways of writing that carve out the relevance of these issues for wider publics.
Writing here about the “doing” of struggle at/for the university and the contemporary shape(s) it might take has left me with many of my questions unanswered. Nevertheless, the conversation continues on from here, including with relation to policy at larger scales. In the Netherlands, as in Europe more broadly, as the urgency of questions about how budgetary crises are exposing and exacerbating democratic crises continues to press on the public sector in particular, I trust there will be much to follow.
Donya Alinejad is a PhD candidate at the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She does research on the role of internet media in the formation of selves among the children of immigrants from Iran in Los Angeles, California.