Yesterday I published an article, The Closing of American Academia, which went viral and is currently the most-read and most-shared article on Al Jazeera’s website. It has generated a lot of discussion about exploitation, elitism and academic culture, as well as a great post from Jay Ulfelder on non-academic careers for social science PhDs. I have been overwhelmed with emails and comments from readers around the world.
One of the most interesting comments I got was from a friend of mine who liked the article, but found it “so depressing”. When I asked why, he compared the situation of American contingent faculty to frogs placed in boiling water. If you throw them into boiling water, they will jump out in horror. But if you turn the water up slowly, they will not realize they are being boiled alive until it is too late.
This is an apt analogy in its own right, but what interested me most is that the person who posted it is an exile from Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. The majority of my academic research has been on Uzbekistan. I have debunked a terrorist group, chronicled the lives of persecuted refugees, and investigated a massacre and its aftermath. But it is my article on American academia that is making people depressed.
I will have more to say on this subject in the coming days – and I’m sure others will as well. Check back for updates, and read the article here.