Presentation at “Lights, Camera, Research: A seminar on film as a political research tool,” Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at the University of Essex

I’m feeling amazingly proud of myself because I’ve managed to post an event BEFORE it occurs rather than several weeks afterwards, which is my typical blogging practice. Maybe I’m a new me: reborn, more organized, purposeful, a blogging extrovert. Maybe not.

I’ll be presenting at a seminar at the Center for Work, Organisation, and Society of the University of Essex on film as a political research tool. I’ll be presenting in 5 days, yet, I know very little about this Center and what I will actually be presenting. I was invited by Stevphen Shukakitis, who is a lecturer at the Center. He’s also a member of SQEK, the SQuatting Europe Kollective and I know him from years ago when I was doing my PhD at Yale. He was in David Graeber’s circle of friends and I met up with him once during pre-dissertation fieldwork in Amsterdam.

Its hard to articulate how this event will go since I know so little about it. I’m curious about the title, specifically, “political research.” What does that mean? Is my research considered political? If so, how and why?

I guess this brings up larger questions of what it means to be an activist, a researcher, and an activist/researcher. My views are quite extreme on this point. I disagree with the idea that conducting academic research is a political act. Especially given the exploitative labour conditions in academic life, I differ with the idea that by conducting research, one enacts social change. Social change occurs when people organise collectively against exploitative conditions, not by publishing in a peer reviewed journal.

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