Imagine there’s no university: sustaining academic identifications in pandemic times

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  • 1 Birkbeck, University of London, , UK
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Through an autoethnographic exercise, this article reflects on the destabilisations that the Covid-19 pandemic has provoked for academic identifications. Drawing from Lacanian psychoanalysis and Ernesto Laclau’s theory, the pandemic is conceptualised as an ‘imaginary dislocation’. This analytical device is deployed to examine the author’s scenes of reading and writing during the first year of his PhD in the UK. By conceptualising the pandemic as an imaginary dislocation, the interpretation focuses on the unconscious content repressed in both scenes as an indicator of the struggles to endure in his academic identity vis-à-vis the erosion of his imaginary of the university. In order to capture this messy, elusive content, the interpretation relies on the idea of the tremor. Emerging incessantly in the author’s readings during the pandemic, the tremor is explored here as a trope staging, in unison, unconscious encounters, a trait of the author’s identity and a metaphor of the pandemic. Therefore, by both advancing a conceptual proposal and interpreting an empirical case, the article seeks to contribute to the understanding of how the pandemic has affected the imaginary frameworks within which our symbolic identifications find stability.

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  • 1 Birkbeck, University of London, , UK

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