1st Edition

Doing Academic Careers Differently Portraits of Academic Life

Edited By Sarah Robinson, Alexandra Bristow, Olivier Ratle Copyright 2023
    458 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    458 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Should academic careers always unfold in exactly the same way? Is there one best way of being an academic? This book says no. Assumptions about who academics are and what they should do are becoming increasingly narrow and focused on achieving so-called ‘excellence’ in teaching and research above anything else. This book problematises this and explores the scope for doing academic careers differently.

    Authors paint individual or group portraits of their academic careers, working with metaphors which challenge the dominant discourses of how academic careers should be led. From rejecting the pressure to focus on ‘one big thing’, to prioritising nurture and care, transcending disciplinary boundaries, reshaping own daily practice, connecting with communities, and being academics outside academia, the chapters in this book offer those considering, starting, or developing an academic career a treasure trove of many alternative possibilities.

    Presented as a portrait gallery through which readers are encouraged to meander at will, this compilation of insights into alternative academic lives will help to inspire and encourage current academics to re-think and take ownership of their careers in their own terms, according to their own strengths, weaknesses, and circumstances.

    Introduction: entrance hall and cloakroom

    Alexandra Bristow, Olivier Ratle, Sarah Robinson

    The Meandering Gallery

    Curated by Alexandra Bristow

    I hope your journey is a long one: a guide to meandering careers

    Alexandra Bristow

    Meandering academics

    Linda M. Sama, Mark Egan, Victor Friedman, David Jones, Nicholas Rhew, and Sarah Robinson

    The all-over-the-place academic: how to fit in an academic niche but also be free to pursue new and exciting research ideas

    Lucas Lauriano

    A pebble skipper’s tale

    Mark Saunders

    The general academic

    Rweyemamu Alphonce Ndibalema, Essa Bah, and Sophia Ndibalema

    Against Careerism

    Curated by Sarah Robinson

    On ducks and vocations: notes against careerism 

    Sarah Robinson

    Careering through my career: how I failed to become a business school Dean

    Mark Learmonth

    Ducks at the university? Two connected biographies in seven images

    Jesús Rodríguez Pomeda

    Excellence and disruption: a mid-career dialogue

    Eugenie Hunsicker and Clare Hutton

    Collectively creating conditions that nurture: the bushland as metaphor for the academic ecosystem

    Sumati Ahuja, Mihajla Gavin, Simone Grabowski, Najmeh Hassanli, Anja Hergesell, Walter Jarvis, Pavlina Jasovska, Ece Kaya, Alice Klettner, Helena Liu, Jennie Small, Christopher N. Walker, and Ruth Weatherall

    Navigating Belonging

    Curated by Sarah Robinson

    Across hostile waters to brave new lands? Notes on navigating academic belonging

    Sarah Robinson

    The collective academic: a conversation across worlds

    Jurdene Coleman, Mac Benavides, Aliah Mestrovich Seay, and Tess Hobson

    Before you decolonize, let me into the game: virtue, a key to unbridling the shackles of oppression

    Armand Bam

    How to become an academic, and alienate people: the working-class academic

    Suzanne Albary

    The back-door academic

    Sarah Stookey

    The ingenuous communitarian

    Emma Newport

    The journey of a surprised academic

    Laurie DiPadova-Stocks

    The self-made academic: From business to a business school

    Adrian Zicari

    Nurturing Careers

    Curated by Olivier Ratle

    Nurturing careers: on the importance of care and relationships

    Olivier Ratle

    The permaculture academic

    Maribel Blasco

    A room for three: living academic, feminist lives (or the unfinished reading of A room of one’s own)

    Jenny Helin, Nina Kivinen, and Alison Pullen

    The non-conformist Academic: professor, parent, provider

    Mary Godwyn

    The mom academic (fragmentation)

    Elizabeth Siler

    The Hall of Mirrors

    Curated by Sarah Robinson

    Mirroring academia: reflections from a hall of mirrors

    Sarah Robinson

    Reflections, distortions - the mirrored academic

    Victoria Pagan

    Academic misfits

    Magnus Hoppe, Anton Hasselgren, Fatemeh Seifan, Steffi Siegert, and Serdar Temiz

    Becoming a (never) good enough critical scholar? On precarious academic subjectification processes

    Mie Plotnikof

    The art of being a reflexive academic: painting a never-complete self-portrait

    Russ Vince

    The poetic academic - [un]grounding the writing self

    Friederike Landau-Donnelly

    I am you, as you are me: academic lives as a mirror of ourselves

    Oscar Javier Montiel Méndez, Duncan Pelly, and Araceli Almaraz

    The Transgressive Gallery

    Curated by Alexandra Bristow

    In the garden of dreams: a guide to transgressive careers

    Alexandra Bristow

    Seek & destroy - from transgression to contestation. And back

    Sophie Del Fa

    Meeting the threads that pull: a feminist declaration of consequence towards academia

    Camila Fredes Ortiz

    The absurd academic

    Jaime Andrés Bayona

    Crafting a career in ‘academic journalism’

    Todd Bridgman

    Blinds and bananas: metaphor in the margins

    Stephen Linstead

    A clown's tale

    Ralf Wetzel

    The late entrance

    Curated by Olivier Ratle

    The late entrance: muddy water and dry grass?

    Olivier Ratle

    Late portrait arrival

    Catherine Heggerud

    Disturbing bodies? Prospective and retrospective second-careering within the doctoral candidature

    Margaret Ying Wei Lee, Olivia Davies, and Kathleen Riach

    Better late than never: the ‘up the hill backwards’ academic

    Mark Stringer 

    Living Precariously Gallery

    Curated by Olivier Ratle

    Living precariously and overcoming the odds

    Olivier Ratle

    The happy and smiling, but inwardly crumbling gig academic: reflections on early career precarity and anxiety

    Emily Yarrow

    The ‘sack-race’ academic: a post-socialist portrait of a single mother facing social expectations and the trade-offs of an academic career path

    Gabriella Kiss

    Re-imagining the dialectic of work and motherhood in academia

    Chrysavgi Sklaveniti 

    Waiting for Godot: the impaired academic

    Garance Marechal

    Some counsel to doctoral students from a naïve and shell-shocked academic

    Ann Armstrong

    ‘Why even bother?’ The defiant practice of the independent scholar

    Molly Hand

    The Haunted Gallery

    Curated by Alexandra Bristow

    A guide to haunting careers: the realm of academic ghosts

    Alexandra Bristow

    Higher Education in India: the academic outsider and the lived experiences of a reclusive rebel

    Subir Rana

    Morals of the demoralised: The non-collaborative academic

    Alexia Cameron

    Doing philosophy differently: learning to fight gender-bias by giving up on stereotypical academic norms

    Tone Grosen Dandanell

    Being an academic ghostwriter: be(com)ing me(thodology)

    Martha Emilie Ehrich

    Unwaged and repurposed: transitions from accidental to non-institutionalised academic

    Ruth Slater

    The redundant academic: am I academic, or am I still an academic?

    Mark Hughes

    Exit via the gift shop

    Olivier Ratle, Sarah Robinson, Alexandra Bristow


    Sarah Robinson is Professor of Management and Organisation Studies at Rennes School of Business, France.

    Alexandra Bristow is Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the Open University, UK.

    Olivier Ratle is Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies at the University of the West of England, UK.

    "This book is wonderfully refreshing and very inspiring. It is vital reading for any of us who have felt we are invisible, on the margins or do not comfortably belong in the academy. Reading this book assures me I am not alone in how I have experienced my academic life and it inspires me to authentically own my professional path." Hannah Rumble, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, UK

    "Academic careers have a long-lasting history with very deep roots. Over the last fifteen years, academic careers have changed immensely, and few of us have discussed these changes. That is why this is a welcomed book analyzing different sides, dimensions and contexts of academic careers. It brings a collection of very thought-provoking and inspiring chapters written by some outstanding academics. This is a must-read book for new and experienced academics. More importantly, it inspires new futures." Rafael Alcadipani, FGV-EAESP, Brazil

    "Doing Academic Careers Differently challenges linear accounts of the academic career and it rebukes the hegemonic moves that push academics into impossible, unsustainable, unhealthy conduct, values, and practices. By collaborating, theorizing, and writing differently 79 academics from 21 countries tell stories with images, poetry, prose, interviews, and essays on contemporary academic lives. The stories thrive on complexity, difference, dialogue, creativity, divergence, and ambiguity. Robinson, Bristow, and Ratle beautifully curate the emerging richness in this book that becomes an enthralling and contemplative new archive of academics' lives where finally alternative voices, knowledges, and experiences can be heard over the conformism and pain of career as individual/ individualizing competition and instrumentality. The book offers a refreshing, powerful, and life-affirming read." Alessia Contu, UMass Boston, USA

    "Many academics lose their sense of direction in a university environment that prioritises journal rankings and other forms of ‘excellence’. It is easy to end up believing that there is only one kind of academic career – the type that is laid out by performance management systems. The enthralling stories of struggle, hope, and leap of faiths shared in this timely book demonstrate the narrowness of this perspective and offer a powerful reminder of the many different ways in which one can be an academic. Doing Academic Careers Differently is essential reading for anyone pursuing or considering an academic career today." Sverre Spoelstra, Associate Professor in Leadership and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

    "A courageous book that inspires, surprises, awes, and eventually heals. Creatively and thoughtfully written and curated, this book restores hope in academics despite the brute corporatization contemporary academia has subjected them to. I felt such longing to walk through such a place as I read through this beautiful manuscript." Ghazal M. Zulfiqar, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan

    "The most creative inspiring enjoyable exhilarating academic work of art on academia I have ever come across. These playful, sardonic, ironic and heartful stories are in a garden of delights that will provide a wonderful learning experience as well as a rigorous piece of research" Damian Ruth, Massey Business School, New Zealand.