The Big News

Well, the big news is that 2021-22, will be my last year at Queen’s University. I’m grateful to all my colleagues and students here from 2009 onwards. But just as it was in 2009, it’s time to move on!

I’m going to be 50 years old next year and I still don’t feel that I have achieved what I want to achieve and having been away from Queen’s since mid-2019 because of sabbatical and then the pandemic, I had the space and time to think, and I realised that I needed a new challenge, a new incentive to force myself to do those things I really want to do. But I didn’t want to leave the island where we live, so my options were pretty limited. I was starting to think of leaving academic, cashing in everything I had and buying a local bookshop.

But then, during that time, I happened across a job that was being advertised at the University of Ottawa. It was in the Department of Criminology, which is not my discipline at all, but then neither was Sociology, or Architecture and Planning, or Rural Economics, or anywhere else I have ever been. What was important was the title, Critical Surveillance and Security Studies, and what they wanted, someone at my level who was ready to step up to full professor and could apply for a Tier 1 CRC. But I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself, so I called someone I knew in the department, one of my favourite people in the world, as it happens, and asked them if I had any chance of getting this job, and they literally screamed down the phone. So maybe I did have a chance! I applied.

Time went by.

Then I was asked to interview. The timing was perfect because I had just realised where my research was going in more concrete ways, and was able to put together a presentation that was really exciting (even to me!). And the interview went about as well as any interview could go.

More time went by. So much time that I had actually started to forget how the presentation and interview went and started to imagine that I had no chance, again.

And then, in the middle of the summer, I came back from a week entirely offline, a week of trail running and swimming up in Algonquin, to find that I had been offered the job.

We don’t need to talk about my negotiating skills, suffice it to say that when I suggested a salary figure they laughed at me and offered me substantially more. I’ll have a suite of offices (or a lab) and I’ll be able to assemble a team to work on the big projects I have in mind, and I’ll actually be able to offer them decent RA-ships, in other words all the things I was told I would be able to do when I got to Queen’s but it turned out that none of that was in writing. It’s in writing this time.

At my age, I don’t have any illusions. There is no academic paradise, especially not in this neoliberal age. But I am excited about the work I want to do again. There will be more about that in future. Hell, I may even start blogging again after a decade…

Maybe you can see my new office from here? The Social Sciences complex at UOttawa

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

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