Hong Kong Baptist University

January – June 2023 – After finishing being Head of the Department of Media Studies, I am a university fellow at the department of humanities and creative writing at Hong Kong Baptist University from January to June 2023. As part of my fellowship I host a seminar titled “How to survive the university?” on Thursday February 23 and March 9.


In this title I deliberately did not include the word neoliberal, as to avoid the discussion of what neoliberalism is or should be, as well as to circumvent its all-too-easy scapegoating. However, when I compare the moment I entered the post-PhD job market (the word itself is already telling) – 2001 – and the current situation, things have changed dramatically. For sure, with my CV at that time, I would stand little chance today to get a job. The pressure to publish has increased, as has the relevance of obtaining grants, aside multiple other demands: excellent teaching evaluations, high social relevance, good citation scores, ample media performances, superb collegiality. To be an academic today requires a high level of self-performance and maintenance. How to keep the fun, how to remain healthy, both physical and mental, and how to avoid too long periods of precarity? Good books have been written about working in academia, among which The Slow Professor by Berg and Seeber and Complaint! By Sara Ahmed. Together with Chow Yiu Fai and Helen Hok-sze Leung  we also wrote a little text on slowness and academic corporatism, that you can find here.

 That was 2010, we are now in 2023, and I do not think that things improved, on the contrary. Yet, rather than lamenting that things are getting worse, and getting trapped in a doom and gloom narrative, we may do better to share our experiences, to see what works, and what does not. To complain together, but also to jointly look for other ways of being an academic. This sharing is trying to achieve that, I will bring in my own experiences of writing, and failing to write (I am here to finish a book which deadline was set for September 2019), of applying for jobs, and being rejected, of trying to get a grant, and sitting in job and grant evaluation committees. But above all, I think it is pivotal that we together share our experiences, to not only see how we can survive in the university, but even more so, how we can enjoy it more.