Purely performative academia

Several months ago, I presented a paper at a conference in Paris hosted by the prestigious Ecole de Haute Etudes en Sciences Sociales. I was the only master’s student presenting at the conference. It was a paper about empowering the researched through visual studies.

Look how I got to this topic. I am an economics graduated that always vacillated between economics and sociology, between business strategy and poststructuralism. Am I normal? I haven’t found place in any departments I studied, I was always an outsider masked as a passionate insider. I am truly pasionate about both of those worlds. Ontologically, there are multiple realities being constructed both by the business field and sociology as a discipline. So, I have chosen to perform all of them.

Inspired by a rather unconventional class at Bristol, I wrote this 8000 words paper on how organisational research should be done shoulder to shoulder with the people we are researching. I demanded that boundaries should be dissolved. There was nothing more poststructuralist that the paper I wrote. It was an intellectual attack to the intellectual bounded by a disciplinary silos. I submitted it to this conference where Howard Becker was a keynote speaker. I got accepted because I am always good with words. I always craft some ideas and pack them really nicely so that they sound like the best proposal that has ever been written. Don’t get me wrong! I am doing what I say! I always like to put the money where my mouth is. However, I am a master’s student invited to speak at conferences where established professors are debating the future of their field. I am the best example of an intruder!

So, back then, at the conference I was in the same panel with some academics. I felt like it was me performing the story of my research in front of everyone in this really dark room. I don’t know how conferences should be, but that one felt purposeless. I just received one question: ”How do you know that what your researched said is what she thought or just something that she read?”. I would say, this is a dumb question but in the same time a question that is brilliant, but dumb.

I answered: “How do you know that you know?”