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, namely: should a politically effective shift (like the presence of foreign soldiers in your home) affect your in-depth construction of theoretical (political) discourses or models? What are you supposed to do, as an intellectual: ignore, resist, act, think, run away, write columns on the front page of newspapers, give French soldiers in your home your bad wine and go have a good beer with your University buddies? It is the current political situation that made me take the oddity of these two discourse levels into consideration. Continue reading “Practical intellectuals”

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 now, on top of the daily craziness, I seem to be unable to assess of the quality of my own scholarly production.  Continue reading “For what it’s worth”