Category: Academia


A New Year’s Eve

I have dreaded the approach of 2016 for quite some time. I had a nagging feeling about turning 40 in 2016 and having achieved nothing. But something changed, somehow, at some point. While I spent the whole Christmas break working on copy-editing a volume and improving my introduction to it (an activity that has become my personal Christmas ritual over the last few years), I did not feel the weight of results to be achieved – fast – or else – be condemned to doom on whatever Academic doomsday is deciding about our destinies. This is how the previous years ended: not...


Science vs. – not science?

When I answered the questions for the paper in the Berliner Morgenpost, I had trouble explaining how and where I find the time I invest in the volunteer work for refugees. The answer I gave was not very satisfactory – luckily, the article does not reflect this lack of precision. But of course, I have been thinking a lot about the meaning and consequences of my time management of the past 3 weeks. Instead of working the usual 50 to 60 hours a week for the good of science, I am probably closer to 40, occasionally 30 (which feels like...


Practical intellectuals

During the Napoleon Wars, French (invader) troops were dispatched in the homes of Berlin inhabitants. Some of these cohabitations went well, others were depicted as being quite catastrophic. But the letters written by intellectuals in that time generally show that their abstract consideration of the political situation (mainly a patriotic discourse) was situated on another level than their assessment of these practices of imposed lodging of French soldiers. Until recently, I never really payed attention to the meaning of this discursive gap. I have always considered the two aspects separately, while there is in fact an excellent question to be asked at the interface of both,...


For what it’s worth

Social expectations to women scholars have been driving me crazy for about 10 years now (my daughter is 9 years old). It has been a daily fight to work, then run errands, pick up the kids from school, do laundry, cook, bring the kids to bed and reopen the laptop at 8 P.M. every single evening, for years. But that, I have become used to, even if it still makes me angry (an anger that I consider as a sign of good mental health). I can’t see anything illegitimate in raising one’s kids while doing research. Something has become worse in the last year though, because...


On the ethics of self-plagiarism (how to roll your stone)

Imagine that you would be copy-editing a volume or a thematic issue of a journal. Imagine that there would be somewhere an incomplete footnote, a missing bibliographical element, and you would google the quote to get the exact reference. Imagine that you would then see that the paper you are copy-editing is a series of copy-pasted passages of papers or books that the author has already published, some of them years ago. What would you do? And what would you think?