Tag: ordinary life

Teaching and timelessness

eli , February 8th, 2018


As I write, night is falling slowly and heavily, like a train gaining momentum gracelessly. It’s easy to feel sleepy when I come home after the all-day heat,…


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Housework and anxiety on the day before class

eli , February 4th, 2018


It’s a Sunday. The ants are everywhere around the kitchen sink, swarming through the crack in the dishwasher door. Afterwards, every time you feel the tiniest itch, you…


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Why we can’t abolish “best”

eli , January 30th, 2018


In my email right now, there are 10,364 messages signed with American academia’s standard valediction: Best, I have always found best an incredibly alienating sign-off. So alienating that…


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Packing my library, or the impossibility of precarious feeling

eli , August 22nd, 2017


1. Packing my library Twelve or fifteen standardized brown boxes of books, covered in dollar store tarps and dust from lizard corpses and asbestos toxins — I’m lining…


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Why deviate?

eli , April 15th, 2017


One time a friend of mine, Mike Bishop, asked me an interesting question about the ethics of deviating from norms: “In what sense is deviance important for its…


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Academic hands

eli , March 11th, 2016


Jeffrey Williams wrote in his excellent essay Smart that academics’ hands are remarkable for their contrast with working-class hands: My father has a disconcerting habit, especially for people…


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A day in campus IT

eli , January 11th, 2016


One day back when I was working in my campus IT job, I jotted down some notes on a day at work. I was in the middle of…


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New Years

eli , January 9th, 2016


Outside my new house, which is currently full of half-unpacked boxes and lamps waiting to be reunited with their shades, there’s a palm tree. If you go out…


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Last day in Paris (2011)

eli , August 20th, 2015


I’m not sure whether this little descriptive passage from my fieldnotes will ever have much use in academic discourse, but it does remind me quite vividly of urban space in my fieldsite….


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Boredom as a practice

eli , May 5th, 2015


I was reading through my field notebooks lately and I came across a little ethnographic snippet of description. It is a description of a male French student sitting in a…


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Graduation day

eli , September 20th, 2014


I’ve now had the Ph.D. in hand for about three weeks. It is in a large brown folder. It looks pretty official. There is, if anything, something incongruous about the…


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What is utopia?

eli , October 13th, 2013


I’ve been thinking about what counts as utopian in my research site, and happened to come across a handy definition by René Schérer, now an emeritus professor. It’s…


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