Fishing for a Career: Alternative Livelihoods and the Hardheaded Art of Academic Failure
Keywords:Autoethnography, casual academics, poverty in academia
Charting the course: The world of alternative livelihood research brings a heavy history of paternalistic colonial intervention and moralising. In particular, subsistence fishers in South East Asia are cyclical attractors of project funding to help them exit poverty and not ‘further degrade the marine ecosystem’ (Cinner et al. 2011), through leaving their boats behind and embarking on non-oceanic careers. What happens, then, when we turn an autoethnographic eye on the livelihood of the alternative livelihood researcher? What lexicons of lack and luck may we borrow from the fishers in order to ‘render articulate and more systematic those feelings of dissatisfaction’ (Young 2002) of an academic’s life’s work and our work-life? What might we learn from comparing small-scale fishers to small-scale scholars about how to successfully ‘navigate’ the casualised waters of the modern university? Does this unlikely course bring any ideas of ‘possibilities glimmering’ (Young 2002) for ‘exiting’ poverty in Academia?