“It’s 5:30. I’m exhausted. And I have to go all the way to f*%#ing Fishtown.”: Educator Depression, Activism, and Finding (Armed) Love in a Hopeless (Neoliberal) Place
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Many recent critical engagements with contemporary educational policy tend to be framed through the language of neoliberalism. Though these critiques are useful in providing a rich understanding of the political and cultural economy of public education, their level of abstraction demands more grounded and embodied approaches. In conversation with queer, feminist, and affect theory, this qualitative project uses the feelings of activist educators in Philadelphia to gain a deeper understanding what it means to live and labor in neoliberal times. Specifically, this article locates depression as a precise kind of political affect experienced by educators in an age of corporate accountability structures and austerity. Educators describe a kind of professional depression and, in turn, locate their activism as a therapeutic antidote to the current trends in education policy. Using the Freirean notion of armed love, we contextualize and theorize how new educator movements and activism strive to provide community for educators to endure, heal, and work towards greater educational justice.
KeywordsNew teacher movements Education policy Teacher activism Neoliberalism Public feelings
The authors would like to offer a very heartfelt thanks to all of the amazing educators and community members who we were able to meet, work with, and talk to during this ongoing project. We learned as much about the struggles and small victories of organizing and the complicated politico-topography of Philadelphia as we did about the power of community. Thank you. We would also like to thank the editors and blind reviewers of The Urban Review for thoughtful feedback and support. Lastly, this research was funded in part by a Picker Fellowship through the Faculty Research Council at Colgate University—to which we are very much appreciative and grateful.
This project was funded in part by a Picker Fellowship awarded through Colgate University.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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