I just gave an inaugeral. The most terrifying and life affirming thing I’ve ever done at work. It was a room full of amazing people – I was blessed to have four generations of my family there and loved the opportunity to make my 89 year old mum and my 7 year old grandson all swear in unison.
There’s a recording coming at some point, but there are some things that I really want to share, in a written form, for those who might not be interested in the main body of the talk itself, but might be facing similar questions in their negotiation with the academic structures around us.
How the fuck are we going to get through this shitstorm, intact, together, and without throwing each other under the bus? Who has got our back? and what can we learn from those who have negotiated the faultlines of the shitstorm before us?
I want to think about the possibility of working, together, kindly with respect. When your own institution lists ‘kindness’ as one of its key strategies there are interesting possibilities in the feelings at work, at work.
We will seek to be known as a ‘kind’ institution. We will care for each other and for the world around us, in responsible and sustainable ways. We will value collegiality and mutual support across all of our actions and activities. Sussex2020 Strategic Framework
So this blog is a way to explore how to protect the parts of ourselves that we give away when our personal is political. As Sara Ahmed says ‘to live a feminist life is to be a feminist at work’. But that means my institution gets a whole load of stuff out of me that was never in my job description. It means that when I’m evaluated, fedback upon, quantified, its not just my outputs, but my whole personal and political self that’s being measured. Furthermore, feminism is a beautiful, stretchy, broad old chorus, and its never simple when ‘being a feminist at work’ is by necessity informed by your own personal as political.
The UCU strike for USS has been a roller coaster and I don’t really know what it means yet, being a historian and all. But the strike over pensions and the marketization of universities has changed how I understand our structures and possibilities and how I feel about work, and how I feel about feeling things about work. (But I will leave the truly brilliant Claire Langhamer to take that one on) Its also changed the way academics in different institutions relate to each other, and filled our lives with Twitter.
I’ve never had an overly easy relationship with Universities, or really with education, but over the last few weeks I’ve never felt so completely at home in academia, or wanted to leave academia so much.
I was ‘invited’ to leave school at 15 and allowed to return to sit some O levels, I got 4, not including History. My first attempt at A levels at 17 was interrupted by the birth of my first daughter. As a single parent I lived in families of choice whilst I studied. As an undergraduate I had a team of incredible women who had each others backs. With my incredible friend Vicky, we campaigned about the representation of student motherhood in contraceptive education and over the councils refusal to pay our children’s housing benefit contribution over 52 weeks of the year ( it seemed pretty obvious to us that our babies weren’t actually students).
All my post graduate studies were part-time and unfunded. Structurally it was pretty clear that I wasn’t meant to be there, and certainly that I wasn’t worth investing money in. But on a personal level I was surrounded by lecturers and supervisors who invested in me. I was taught about the value of personal and political investment. And I guess that’s a trajectory I’ve followed ever since. That came to a clashing contradictory conclusion during the strike. I’ve never loved my colleagues more (and I loved them a lot already), I’ve never felt the possibility of taking back the agenda so closely, and I’ve never wanted to jack the whole thing in so much.
This post was originally commissioned by the CIRCY blog. Many thanks to Janet Boddy for all her support. I’m working to develop this into a broader project so thought I’d revisit it for a bit.
The Indie Rock-a Nore Festival was held on 21st October 2017 at the Hastings and St Leonards Angling Association. It was “[a] one-day indie-pop festival (midday to midnight), bringing together current indie bands and those of yesteryear. Raising money for Brighton based suicide prevention charity, GrassRoots, who provide support across East Sussex (Charity Number: 1149873)”. Alongside the bands there was a raffle, a pool tournament and a buffet. CIRCY made a small contribution to hosting costs, ensuring that all money taken on the door could go straight to the charity. Over £2500 was raised on the day.
A moment of pure joy washed over me last Wednesday as I watched my two favourite feminist icons sit on stage together and chat about pioneering women in music as part of The Odditorium series of events for Brighton Fringe Festival. Viv Albertine, writer, artist and guitarist of The Slits was invited to talk in conversation with Lucy about the women she had come to recognise as influential in her life. It was like ‘grasping at straws’ she described, born in the fifties and with so few women visible in the public eye, let alone pioneering in alternative and subculture.
These are the words I gave at last night’s amazing, angry, joyful, loving, demo against Trump and his muslim ban. I know most of the thousands of people couldn’t hear what the speakers were saying. Because there were just so many of you there. Your bodies filled the space, soaked up the sound and responded with chants, shouts and woops. (Note, just because you might think you’ve got the biggest megaphone, doesn’t mean you have. Believe me I know, I’ve tried them all)
Over the last few months a new feminist project has been occupying a small group of feminist historians at the University of Sussex. #MorethanAssistants is inspired by the history of feminist interventions in Historical practice.
We are concerned with
The burden of responsibility on those few female figures who manage to earn a space in the public realm.
The disproportionate shaming of young women for unruly behaviour.
The power of playful, messy, feminism.
The importance of carrying our sisterhood with us, whether physically, virtually or emotionally
An assault on an all female band by a member of security staff at this weekend’s Undercover punk festival in Brighton has brought the online mansplainers and slut shamers out of the woodwork. It also raised some issues that need to be resolved, some feel new, some are as old as punk itself. Can women make a new space in a scene and politicize it from within ? Is there ever a way to reconcile the punk politics of the past, and the intersectional politics of the present? Can we actively build a politics where race, gender, age and subcultural identity intersect ?– the answer, it seems to me, to all of these questions is the same; not really, no. Continue reading Your punk politics will be privileged, or it will be bullshit→
I’ve just got back from the most mind-blowing conference I’ve ever been to. Keep It Simple, Make It Fast, is a conference/music and literary festival/art show organised around DIY cultures, Spaces, Places. Events were held across various venues in Porto, bringing together academic presentations, some celebrity guests, live performances, exhibitions with daily book launches and a summer school. The event is convened by Paula Guerra and Andy Bennett with an incredible team of international volunteers. I went with my Subcultures Network army (Matt Worley, Petes Webb and Ward, David Wilkinson and stayed in a seminary with the Punk Scholars Network and Steve Ignorant from Crass).
I’ve been out of the country for a week at a great workshop in Berlin “How to Write and Conceptualize the History of Youth Cultures” organised by Felix Fuhg, Doctoral Student, with the Centre for Metropolitan studies. I was travelling with the histrrry girls and The Subcultures Network, so there were Harringtons. There are always Harringtons. We spent one day working and talking in the Archiv der Jugendkulturen. Its an incredible community archive and library that has brought together all the different traces of resistance in youth culture and subcultures. From magazines made by school pupils to the Love Parades’ backdrops and giant cut outs of Nena – the transational and hyper local are boxed up together and are being carefully catalogued by local participant experts in each scene.