Women’s Studies and Contingency:Between Exploitation and Resistance

Fernandez Arrigoitia, Melissa and Beetham, Gwendolyn and Jones, Cara and Nzinga-Johnson, Sekile (2015) Women’s Studies and Contingency:Between Exploitation and Resistance. Feminist Formations, 27 (3). pp. 81-113. ISSN 2151-7371

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We know the numbers: 76 percent of faculty in US universities is contingent. We are captivated by the viral news pieces—“Thesis Hatement,” “Academia’s Indentured Servants,” “Death of a Professor,” and “The PhD Now Comes with Food Stamps”—and we follow hashtags on Twitter—#NotYourAdjunctSidekick. But in what ways does women’s studies’ relatively precarious place within academia fit into these conversations? How do feminists working in a variety of disciplines reconcile their feminist labor politics with the need to grow their programs and departments under the edicts of the corporate university, particularly when relying upon contingent labor to do so? These questions were at the heart of three collectively organized sessions on feminist contingency at the 2014 annual National Women’s Studies Association Conference (NWSA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the highlights of which are presented here. This article hopes that the lessons learned in this historic event—lessons about silence-breaking and collectivizing, but also about inequity, privilege, shame, and guilt—will be used in women’s studies classrooms, departmental meetings, and beyond, contributing to the growing conversation about this important issue, and perhaps even offering action steps toward solutions.

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Journal Article
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Feminist Formations
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09 Jan 2018 10:30
Last Modified:
11 Sep 2023 19:15