or, life as a postacademic (if you are looking for a traditional CV, please click here).
I guess I’m what people call an “independent scholar”. It’s usually a euphemism for “unemployed or unpaid academic”.
It’s true, I more or less dropped out of the official structures of academia when I left my job at Coventry University in the UK, where I used to be a Reader in Cultural Theory and Director of Postgraduate Studies (Media) until 2014. Before that, I was Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Heidelberg University in Germany. My first academic job I got at Leeds Trinity University when it was still Trinity and All Saints, College of the University of Leeds, in 1997. That was straight after my PhD at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University, which, at the time, was the epicentre of “British Poststructuralism” (aka, ironically, “French Theory”). This was also the setting out of which, first Neil Badmington, then Ivan Callus, Manuela Rossini and I developed our “critical” take on posthumanism as the “ongoing deconstruction of humanism”. See my Critical Posthumanism, Again for more details.
Like all “post-“s (postmodern, postcolonial, posthuman…), postacademic is not a simple “after” or “beyond” academia. Heidelberg University, my alma mater as they say, where I studied English and French in the 1980s and 1990s, grants me the status of Privatdozent – another euphemism, this time for fully qualified professors (i.e. those with a Habilitation, which is basically a second doctorate just with a topic that is wider in scope) who for some reason haven’t got a chair, or a proper post at a university. I guess the deal is that I can still publish with an affiliation (which is something that publishers find reassuring) and have access to some academic resources like libraries, i.e. the places that house the stuff my peers (and I) publish behind paywalls, unbeknownst to and unread by most people. What Heidelberg University gets out of this arrangement is some cheap publicity without having to pay me a salary. Not quite a win-win but nevertheless…
Life as a postacademic also has its advantages, however. I no longer have to go to any point- and endless meetings, follow rules and regulations concocted by administrators, worry about hitting corporate or personal development targets and so on. And I can do what academics were originally meant to do: reading, thinking, writing, translating, publishing, editing, even teaching, occasionally. Only that it’s a kind of hobby now – just a shame it’s no longer paid. However, being (a) postacademic opens your eyes to the quite bizarre ways academia functions and which, if known to the wider public, would be quite hard to justify. I’ve voiced some of these concerns in more detail here if you’re interested.
What does my postacademic work actually consist of? That’s what this website is about. It showcases what I “stand for”, so to speak, as the co-founder of a theoretical (or philosophical, intellectual, if you prefer) stance – critical posthumanism.