This is a message to friends and colleagues and others out there who have been supportive of my scholarship and academic work and of this blog I’ve been keeping for the past 12 years. Like everyone who performs academic labor, I work hard on my books, articles, films, blogsite and other academic projects. I spend many years researching, writing and producing them. And I get very little back in return monetarily. For example, this blog I keep costs money. The books I publish don’t earn much in the way of royalties (like most academic books) and my films—Natta.
Unlike most other academics, I’ve been doing this stuff independently for many years now. My last fellowship or grant was in the early 2000s. Basically all the academic work I’ve done, researching, writing, publishing, speaking and so forth since then has been unsupported by an academic grant or sabbatical or academic post. Yes, I have been serving as an adjunct professor for many years, but that’s not the same as being a regular professor with sabbaticals and grant money.
To be sure, unlike a lot of folks who are adjunct profs, I can’t complain about my job or my pay—both are good now. But for the past several years my administrative work in and of itself hasn’t supported the kind of academic work I do. Instead I do it mainly in my spare time, in evenings, on weekends, on holidays or whenever I can spare a moment. While my first book was largely supported by my doctoral fellowship at Columbia (which enabled me to do the research in the late 1990s) and a couple of grants, my subsequent books and articles have not been supported by the kind of scholarly grants and support systems that most academics rely on to do their work.
Granted (pun intended) a lot of support for the publication of our book Shanghai Nightscapes came from Dr. James Farrer’s side—he is a regular professor at Sophia University and has sabbaticals and grant money and so forth, so that partnership helped sustain the work we did, but again, on my side it was mostly about finding the spare time to do the work. Back when I was an adjunct prof working for NYU Shanghai, I had the spare time. Since taking on admin roles starting in 2012, that time has been shrinking, yet I still try to make time to continue my academic labors, including my filmmaking (which again has received no financial support whatsoever).
Okay, enough of the rant. Here’s my message to friends and others who support the work I do:
1) If you haven’t done so already, please buy my books. This is the best way you can show support for the work I do. Even if they just sit on your shelves, they are a reminder of the academic labor and love that went into these projects, and maybe somebody else will take an interest and open them up. If you already bought them, buy more and give them to others as gifts!
2) If you’ve already bought my books, or if you just want to borrow them, please read them. Respect the labor that went into them by me and others who were involved in their publication. They represent thousands of hours of human labor.
3) If you’ve read my books, take a moment to post a short review of them on Amazon.com, Goodreads and other sites. I’m shocked by how few friends and colleagues have done this. On the other hand, I’m always grateful to those who took the time to read my books and write good reviews of them, even if they are critical ones.
4) Share my posts on facebook, linkedin etc. with others who might share the same interests.
Here’s how I would be happy to reciprocate: If you have also produced artifacts such as books, indie films, blog sites etc. and they align with my own interests, I’m keen to do the same—and post reviews of them on my blogsite which I do on occasion. Also happy to link to other sites.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. If you feel similarly, I’d love to hear from you.
Academic labor is a labor of love. Please respect and support the work I and others do. Thank you.
Andrew David Field