At the Margins of Academia

Exile, Precariousness, and Subjectivity


Are displaced and emigrated academics “at risk” or “in reserve”? Are political oppression of dissident scholars and economic precarization of academic workforce separate phenomena, or two sides of the same coin? Can the pervasive precariousness in its various forms foster a conversation on shared sensibilities? And, can traumatic experiences like exile and loss eventually lead to a revival of agency?

Based on the author’s own experiences and on in-depth interviews with the exiled Peace Academics, At the Margins of Academia offers a broad approach to the challenge of academic labor precarity and the growing academic migration from Turkey to European academic labor markets. It provides a detailed analysis of the systemic background of precariousness and the socio-emotional expressions of being kept in reserve, in conjunction with the antinomies of exile.

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Aslı Vatansever, Dr. rer. pol. (2010, University of Hamburg) is research fellow at Institute Re:Work, HU Berlin. Her books include Ursprünge des Islamismus im Osmanischen Reich (Hamburg: Dr. Kovac, 2010) and Ne Ders Olsa Veririz. Akademisyenin Vasıfsız İşçiye Dönüşümü (Ready to Teach Anything, Istanbul: Iletisim, 2015 – co-authored).


1 Situating the Issue of Displaced Academics within the Framework of Academic Precarity
 1.1 The Political Economy of Academic Precarity
  1.1.1 The Commodification of Academic Labor Force
  1.1.2 Precarious Work in Academia
1.2 The Exiled Academics for Peace as a Segment of Academic Surplus Labor Force

2 Reflections on Precarization, Exile, and Subjectivity
 2.1 Rethinking the Relationship between Precariousness and Subjectivity
 2.2 The Neoliberal Logic of De-subjectivation
 2.3 The Neoliberal Academic Subject
 2.4 The Question of Exile and Re-subjectivation in Relation to Displaced Academics

3 The “Purgatory” of Being Kept in Reserve
 3.1 An Unsettled Life between Trivia and Essentials
 3.2 A Non-place between Turkey and Europe
 3.3 A Non-time between the Past, the Present, and the Future
 3.4 A Non-position between Guest and Exile

4 An Interrupted Mourning

5 The Recovery of the Will: Limits, Opportunities, and Challenges



Appendix 1 Questionnaire
Appendix 2 List of Interviewees
Appendix 3 List of Participants and Topics of the Focus Group Meeting on 11 July 2017

The book may be of interest for anyone who is willing to grasp the dynamics of the forced intellectual migration from Turkey to Europe at the moment. It would also appeal to a broader audience that is interested in the issues of exile and intellectuals in the general sense.