Precademics 85.42.1: Special Issue on Pervasive Labour Union #14

Editors’ Note

Welcome to the third special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine, Precademics 85.42.1! This issue, prepared by the collective of the same name, brings experiences of precarity in Greek academia to the fore.

As a collective, Precademics 85.42.1 seeks to politicize anger, frustration and pain – the emotions accompanying the precarization of the working conditions of many ‘young’ academics in Greece. The austerity policies imposed as a result of the Troika (ECB, European Commission and the IMF) memoranda left lasting effects in Greek academia, where precarity is now the norm. While the Greek university has managed to remain public and free of fees, as provisioned by Article 16 of the Greek Constitution, Precademics 85.42.1 ask: at whose expense? For while it is vital that education remains free, a truly public University cannot and must not be built on neoliberal tenets that spell job insecurity for the many.

Isabel Llorey writes that precarization “embraces the whole of existence”. Perusing the personal accounts published on this issue, that whole-encompassing character runs through like a connecting thread: the inability to form stable relationships, the difficulty to look ahead and plan for the future and the accumulation of debt due to delays or lack of payment are just some of the ways that job instability seeps into other aspects of these academics’ lives. These experiences seem to echo Ned Rossiter and Brett Neilson’s assertion that precarity’s reference “(…) also extends beyond the world of work to encompass other aspects of intersubjective life, including housing, debt, and the ability to build affective social relations”.

Frequently, however, precarious academics find it hard to find a voice. Their survival in academia is mostly dependent on securing external funds, leading these academics to work on a project-basis. This materiality gets opposed to the loftiness of higher education, and precarious academics enter difficult and stressed power relations with their tenure-track colleagues. Internalisation of this distance makes them question their legitimacy as real academics. Moreover, attempts to call into question their working conditions often get misconstrued as a neoliberal attack on the public character of the university. These reasons, allied to the necessity of keeping good relations with elected colleagues, as precarious academics’ presence in universities is often dependent on them, make speaking up about their situation highly challenging.

On the second special issue of the zine, “The Entreprecariat”, editor Silvio Lorusso asked: “Or should insecurity itself become a paradoxically stable ground in which to build social cohesion?”. To this question, Precademics 85.42.1 respond with a resounding yes, as there is an urgent need to challenge the silence to which their struggles have been relegated.

All contributions to the zine, unless otherwise specified, are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License 1.3.

Read the special issue online here >>>>

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