CFP: Adjunct Labor in Higher Education Worldwide (5/31/04; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
steffen hantke
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We are inviting submissions for an anthology of essays on adjunct and
part-time teaching in global institutions of higher education, tentatively
called Gypsy Scholars, Migrant Teachers, and the Global Academic
Proletariat: Adjunct Labor in Higher Education. Essays are to be 20-25 pages
in length. Abstracts are due by May 31, 2004. For queries or proposals,
contact Rudolphus Teeuwen ( or Steffen Hantke

In recent years, hiring part-time employees has become common usage in
higher education, both in the US and worldwide. The development has been
accompanied by running commentary from professional organizations like the
MLA, in its journal Profession, and scattered articles in journals like the
Academic Exchange Quarterly and the Chronicle of Higher Education. There
have also been practical guides on how to cope with the new economic
situation such as Richard E. Lyons’s The Adjunct Professor’s Guide to
Success: Surviving and Thriving in the College Classroom. Most importantly,
however, there has been a groundswell of frustration from those who have
realized that professional discourse in their own field is more geared
toward accommodation than critique of the new economic reality. Books and
articles on adjunct teaching typically offer techniques of classroom
management rather than reflections on social class, but their assumption
that part-time status could be something to aspire to and become successful
at is outrageous to most adjunct professors in the humanities.

The topic has great urgency since universities worldwide are increasingly
adopting the American model of covering large parts of their teaching loads
by hiring part-timers, or by employing graduate students for teaching
required and core courses. Where adjunct teaching was once clearly marked
as a temporary measure to deal with occasional shortages or as a means of
giving aspiring faculty a way of acquiring useful teaching experience, it
has now become a permanent feature of academic teaching. This development
is widely considered problematic, and its discourse is characterized by
tropes of crisis. One problem is that adjunct teachers are not expected to
contribute to research in their profession or to governance of their
institution. Thus adjuncts’ structural presence in academic departments
translates the division between teaching and research—one perceived source
of crisis—into a matter of status and power. A related problem is that,
with teaching easily allocated on an as-needed basis to adjunct faculty,
universities are tempted, to the point of self-inflicted identity crisis, to
adopt the business model of service industries. As university departments
offer an ever increasing number of courses, modules, and programs tailored
to market demands and fronted by adjunct teachers, they come to be seen as
places where one orders one’s education, pays, and walks away.

There is a personal dimension to such institutional problems and crises as
well. Adjunct teachers work in an institution that denigrates them even as
it asks them to represent that institution to most of its students. To be
an adjunct teacher means to struggle with feelings of resentment, abjection,
anger, and failure brought on by one’s job. Many adjuncts are patient,
conscientious, or even brilliant teachers; many have adopted attitudes of
worldly resignation—but has anyone been an adjunct for a few years without
contemplating small acts of rebellion or sabotage?

Last but not least, there is the global dimension of adjunct teaching. In
the last decade especially, many adjunct teachers have left the uncertain
employment in their home countries for full-time and permanent jobs abroad,
most often in Asia and the Middle East. Their new environments offer them
the status and professional possibilities that eluded them earlier, but also
gave rise to new personal and professional frustrations. The profession as
it is understood in their new environment may be radically different from
the one they strove to enter before—to the extent even that they feel even
further removed from their goal of professional inclusion than they did as
adjuncts. Another problem they confront is the attitude of their new
institutions to the large contingent of adjunct teachers that those
institutions, too, will employ. These adjunct teachers are to an increasing
extent the products of Western MA-programs in fields such as TESOL,
Education, and Applied Linguistics designed to cater especially for adjunct
teaching positions in Asian and Middle-Eastern language and business

For this anthology we invite adjunct professors in colleges and universities
worldwide to speak out on their experiences. We will also consider
contributions from those who used to be adjuncts and can now look back on
the experience from a position inside or outside of their profession. The
anthology will be readable and, reflective of adjuncts’ survival instincts,
entertaining. Its goal is to shed light on different aspects of its subject
matter without theorizing it in opaque, exclusionary academic discourse.
The anthology does not put forward, or is assembled in reference to, a
pre-formulated thesis; rather, its position emerges from a multiplicity of
viewpoints. The anthology is primarily supposed to be a collection of
stories and personal experiences. Yet given their academic background,
contributors might well want to reflect upon their experiences with the help
of critical theory, and to articulate their opinions within their respective
professional discourses. In short, we encourage contributors to be as
articulate about their experiences as they can, or dare to be, use whatever
tools they have at their disposal, and speak their minds as frankly as

In the selection of texts, we will emphasize the variety of possible
opinions and experiences. Multiple viewpoints can align themselves with
gender and race, age and professional seniority, geographical and cultural
origins as well as location of employment, etc. For those contributors who
want to air grievances, albeit eloquently and intelligently, we want to
provide a forum; on the whole, the anthology is supposed to thrive on
disagreement and the contingent element of discovery and surprise.
The intended audience consists primarily of academics interested in the
state of their profession. For readers interested in labor issues and in
recent trends in labor development, the anthology provides case studies from
the academic profession that reflect neoliberal economic policies in other
fields. To the degree that individual contributors will address the role of
women, or the role of part-timers crossing over from developed to developing
or underdeveloped nations, the anthology is also be of interest to those
working in women’s and postcolonial studies.

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Received on Thu Nov 20 2003 - 21:52:51 EST

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