Quick Read: The Emotional Labor of Coping

Following yesterday’s post on belonging and the learning environment, the latest issue of Kohl includes an important reflection on the politicization and feminization of emotional labour, both in higher ed and beyond the classroom.

In Neoliberal Consciousness and the Emotional Labor of Coping: A Conversation Between Friends, Amira Elwakil and Nadine El-Nabli discuss the ways that labor is omnipresent (Nadine: “There is even labor involved in being alone”), the ways that emotions are feminized and, thereafter, undervalued, and exhaustion versus productivity.

As the conversation unfolds, Amira and Nadine turn to the possibility of alternative labor structures, and the ways that the current framework can be challenged:

Any attempt to challenge our current labor structures and create alternative ones requires a new way of thinking around how we organize communities and how we distribute care, security, recognition, rights, and duties.

I think it’s crucial to try to find alternative communities of care that are neither based on ideas around the nuclear family nor in the pursuit of creating a new family that is rooted in heteronormative structures. But I haven’t managed to find an answer to what these communities could realistically and sustainably look like.

I find so much value, support, and care in friendships, but even those feel insecure because of the fact that the structures we live in don’t support the sustainability or security of these relationships.

Amira Elwakil and Nadine El-Nabli, Neoliberal Consciousness and the Emotional Labor of Coping: A Conversation Between Friends, Kohl, 5: 2, Summer 2019.

The article is a powerful read, and it touches on the additional dimensions of emotional labour that will emerge in our discussions in Weeks 1, 2, and 3 (and more), including privilege, the “romanticization of emotional labor”, and gender and mental health.

Quick Read: The “Hidden Curriculum”

As part of AllGo‘s new series looking at being fat in college, Meaghan O’Riordan‘s The “Hidden Curriculum” Taught by Desks in College Classrooms (Almost) Everywhere considers the ways that space, fitting in, and the ways that campuses reflect on the needs of plus-size students (or not!) affects our experience as students.

O’Riordan’s post addresses an issue that is relevant to our discussions in Weeks 1 and 9, and highlights the ways that the learning environment can influence feelings of belonging and knowledge exchange:

Sarah M. also felt that the accessible desks, located almost exclusively, in the front of some of her classrooms at Portland State University placed people in the spotlight.

Additionally, she had to register as someone with a disability in order to gain access to this seating, even though she was able-bodied. This required her to get a letter from her doctor saying she is “medically obese” and going through this process was very traumatic for her.

She felt that by asking for an accommodation she was appropriating language not meant for her but, without doing so, she would be without any seating options as the other seats in her classrooms were “tablet arm” style desks that can’t accommodate plus-size students.

Meaghan O’Riordan, ‘The “Hidden Curriculum” Taught by Desks in College Classrooms (Almost) Everywhere’, September 4, 2019

Drawing on 15 interviews, as well as research by D. Breithecker, Kemal Yildirim et al., and Heather A. Brown (among others), the article is a profound reflection on embodiment and space, and a sound starting point to explore discrimination in greater depth.