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ordinary life

Teaching and timelessness

As I write, night is falling slowly and heavily, like a train gaining momentum gracelessly. It’s easy to feel sleepy when I …


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Why we can’t abolish “best”

In my email right now, there are 10,364 messages signed with American academia’s standard valediction: Best, I have always found best an …


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Why deviate?

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


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Academic hands

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


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A day in campus IT

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


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New Years

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


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Last day in Paris (2011)

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 …


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Boredom as a practice

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


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Graduation day

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 …


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What is utopia?

I’ve been thinking about what counts as utopian in my research site, and happened to come across a handy definition by René …


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