In mid-2020 (as the world felt unmoored), I found myself thinking a lot about what gives a life its shape. I was reading two things that, at first, appeared unconnected – the 1970s diaries of Australian writer Helen Garner, and the testaments written about anthropologist and leftist David Graeber after his untimely death. But as I read these in tandem, I felt them each to be deeply relevant to the questions of how we live, how we create, how we attend, how we pay attention.
not serious enough. I am extremely serious about my students and about my research I just do not feel the need to perform it or to ‘lean-in’ to a toxic norm. I possess privileges that help me do that, that is certain. But I like to ex-change top facts in non-sensical conversations that have nothing to do with law, I like going out for runs, I like watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race and What We Do in the Shadows. Anyone who tells you that those things are not commensurate with being a serious academic working the hours that are needed to be a serious academic are wrong.
In this post, I would like to shed more light on this by discussing two matters central to Indigenous perspectives of time: time linked to tasks or duties, and circular time as a means that is attached to an activity in progress. I will use personal experiences in an early academic career in international law to clarify these matters.
In this two-part blog post series, I will discuss Indigenous understandings of time and reflect on personal experiences in an early academic career in international law. Part 1 of this blog post series will be devoted to a discussion on a circular perspective of time, which Indigenous peoples use. Subsequently, Part 2 will illustrate how valuable such approach is by reflecting upon personal experiences in an early academic career in international law.
I’m privileged that my time as an early career researcher (ECR) has been a positive experience. I’ve worked with and been helped by brilliant lawyers and researchers in a collegial, welcoming environment. I’m indebted to them for their time, knowledge, and guidance. Yet, despite this, since I began my doctoral research, I have the unshakable sense that I simply do not belong among these people.
Some years ago, at a different institution, I reached a point where professional, workplace, and personal pressures intersected for a period and I was simply unable to function as normal. Depression is certainly a possible label, so is burnout. I sometimes think of it as an implosion. I was fortunate enough to get help, recover, move on, and I have not since relapsed. However, what one finds on the other side of such events is not a return to things as they were before. Indeed, returning to what went on before is quite likely to repeat the patterns which caused one to burn out in the first place. Hopefully, one finds instead a new, better normal.
This symposium’s idea was born out of at least four reflections on that question – the experiences of the four editors. While our experiences are unique, we could agree on one thing: there are junior international legal scholars struggling with various challenges that are inherent to the field. The hierarchies of academic institutions, the political economy of modern universities, geographical location, language, race, gender, and mental health struggles are some of the issues of concern to junior legal researchers, and often even to those advanced in their career. Difficulties emerge not only from structures of oppression and exclusion but also from insufficient familiarity with basic aspects of academic life. All four of us agreed that at the beginning of our careers we had/have little understanding of how to prepare a book proposal, an abstract for an interesting conference, a polite rejection email for an attractive offer, a teaching plan, a justification for chosen methods, and much more.
Migrants and migrant workers from the Global South carried the economies of the Global North on their backs during the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, millions of migrant workers in agriculture, trans-portation, care, food processing, construction, and other essential sectors continued working while the world shut down. On the other hand, migrant workers faced some of the harshest and most punitive treatment due to their status or lack thereof; many migrant workers were detained, deported or subjected to severe and inhumane treatment coupled with the physical, emotional and psychological impact of the pandemic. The pandemic unveiled high levels of nationalism, racism and xenophobia that impacted mi-grants globally and states have used the momentum to justify heavy handed measures and increased migration restrictions and the monitoring of migrants.
Apart from important recent examples that will be formative, we believe it is long past time for international economic law to take stock of its hidden heritage (including settler colonialism) and how this ongoing legacy invariably intersects with IEL’s impoverished notions of economy, as well as its impoverishing approach to migration.
A welcome discussion has emerged around ameliorating labour supply and demand mismatches across the globe by expanding labour markets. South Africa and Nigeria are among several African countries with a structural unemployment problem, characterised by labour market inefficiencies, such as slow pace of job growth and low productivity. It has long been suggested that structural unemployment problems could be eased through reducing barriers to geographical labour mobility, so combined with labour shortages at industrialised countries, the idea of expanding labour markets is mature. Yet, the returns to such labour mobility are not evenly distributed; increased labour mobility could redistribute skilled workers away from African to more productive industrial countries. Formal labour migration agreements should position themselves to address such human capital redistribution accordingly maximising the returns to contractual parties. Destination countries can mitigate the impacts of redistribution of skilled workers by committing to skill formation at source and to migrant selection practices that are inclusive of mid and lower-level skill sets. Countries of origin can improve their labour market conditions, to create, and retain skilled workers, including through adjustments of professional regulatory practices.