Conversation 2: Precarious Academic Labour and Motherhood 

Thu 30 Sep 2021 7:30–9PM

How does the absence of predictable, stable employment in academic institutions affect working mothers and caregivers? What are the particular pressures and possible responses to economic precarity when situated within the demands of ensuring stability, security, and meeting the material needs of children and others in our care? Are there ways in which we can create broad-based networks that support collective organizing and caretaking beyond normative models of the nuclear family? Participants in this explorative conversation are invited to consider these questions in the context of precarity of teaching for people in parenting and caregiving roles. This session will not be recorded to ensure the privacy and anonymity of those in attendance, but alternative forms of documentation will be discussed by the group.

Precarious Academic Labour and Motherhood (Part I) from Gabriela Aceves on Vimeo. (Transcript forthcoming)


Elisa Baniassad (she/her) is a mother of two, an Associate Professor of Teaching at the University of British Columbia, and has the privilege of being the chair of the Status of Women Committee for the UBC Faculty Association. Elisa teaches Software Engineering, in the department of Computer Science, and has spent time reflecting on the very different experiences women and mothers in particular have in this male dominated field. 
Sarika Bosse is a long-term contract academic in the Department of English Language and Literatures at UBC. She taught the first-year writing course for many years until it was taken out of the department in 2020. She feels lucky to be able to teach in her specialist disciplines of Victorian and Children’s Literature, and this past summer she did some marathon development of 2 online courses for the department’s new online minor, to be piloted this fall. She has been serving in the UBC Faculty Association for many years, first on the Contract Faculty Committee as a committee member, and since 2014, as the Contract Faculty Committee Chair. She was also on the CAUT CAS Committee, first as a committee member for 3 years, and then as the Chair for the last 4 years. She has attempted to address the needs of her fellow contract academics in a variety of ways, which range from connecting them to appropriate union resources and encouraging involvement in union work, to organizing monthly pedagogy sessions to strengthen their skill sets, and convening an annual symposium and publication display to showcase both their pedagogical and academic work. She has given regular talks and workshops at conferences on precarious academic labour. Through her years of working with my precariously employed academic colleagues, she has learned about the challenges unstable work brings to their personal lives, and to the profession as a whole.
Annabree Fairweather (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC). She holds a Master of Science in experimental Psychology and a double major Bachelor of Arts and Science in French and Psychology, as well as a Labour Relations-Management Certificate. Annabree has worked in post-secondary academic labour relations union-side for over a decade in British Columbia and Alberta. She has experience representing contract faculty rights in bargaining and labour disputes, as well as personal experience as a contract faculty member. Prior to her career in university labour, Annabree was a published researcher and a contract instructor at both the college and university level. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her wife and two children and distracting herself with hobbies, which include stone sculpture and playing the piano.
Sunny Nestler is an artist, writer and humble guest living on unceded Coast Salish territories belonging to the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. Sunny teaches drawing and science courses at ECUAD, where they have been a non-regular faculty member since 2013. They are currently a representative on the executive committee of ECUAD’s faculty association (instructors’ union) and were previously a researcher to support collective bargaining. This academic year Sunny will be a Faculty Writing Associate at ECUAD’s Writing Centre. Their past work includes gallery exhibitions, collaborative animation, community-led arts programming, a recent municipal commission, and thirteen years co-managing community bike shops and other collective-run spaces. Sunny is currently working on several studio projects including an artists’ book and a virtual reality experiment. Sunny is a binge learner and loves to devour everything about a subject on a practice-makes-perfect (or practice-until-distracted!) basis. Most recently including pottery, learning French on Zoom, and ocean kayaking.
Magnolia Pauker is a Lecturer in Critical and Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design on traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. In the final stages of writing her dissertation, “Learning in Public: Relational Pedagogies as Future Forms of Care,” Magnolia’s practice takes up what she terms the philosophical interview as a model for caring critical engagement, knowledge production, and transgressive critical pedagogy. Sketching the edges of cultural and critical studies, philosophy, journalism, and critical media studies, Magnolia strives to engage conversation and awareness of intersectionality that acknowledges how multiple oppressions are experienced simultaneously and thus are inextricable from one another. For it is precisely through these complex entanglements that we are bound together. She is co-editor of Inter Views in Performance Philosophy: Crossings and Conversations(Palgrave Macmillan 2018).
Terra Poirier is an interdisciplinary artist working with pinhole photography, artist books and installation. Her interests (which are informed by her experiences as a low-income, queer, teen mother) include labour, place and storytelling—especially whose stories are told and whose are erased. Terra is the creator of Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, produced in collaboration with dozens of instructors, students and other artists. On Mothers’ Day 2021, Terra installed a response to the ongoing renaming underway at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive. Her iteration, Single Moms Chilling Park, speaks to the site’s history as a gathering place for low-income, single mothers. Previously Terra has taught video production and made short films which have screened worldwide.