Or: How to Become a Model Neoliberal Academic Subject.
If you’ve met me recently, online or offline, you’ll know that I’m in the middle of finishing my PhD dissertation. That’s to say: I’m in the middle of finishing a manuscript, a book, the largest piece of writing I’ve ever written. Some 90.000 words, excluding bibliography.
So it should not come as a surprise that writing and everything related to it have been on my mind these past months. How to reduce procrastination time and be more effective in my time management? How to overcome writer’s blocks and deal with the anxiety that comes with trying to finish up a project like this? How to edit your own text and how to be satisfied with what you’ve written?
Because I’m nerdy like that, I also love reading, thinking, talking and even writing about writing. Yeah, that’s some ‘meta’ stuff! The genre of…
“… since we are gathered here on the soil of Great Britain, how could we not call to mind a model or antitype of the labour we’re now doing: the work completed in the ‘dark ages’ by the scotti monasteries, heirs of the first rush out of Ireland; by the monasteries and episcopal schools of the Anglo-Saxons … where the beginnings of the Carolingian Renaissance, and so our civilisation today, were sketched out.” – Conclusion to Henri Marrou’s address to the first Oxford Patristics Conference (1951)
This quote is a good example of the ways in which people came to see the connections between the end of the Roman Empire and Europe after 1945. I’ve spent some time in the Archives nationales d’Outre-Mer trying to make more sense of these connections. As I walked to and from the archives I also thought about how memories of the past shape our world today.
The building containing these archives stands on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence at the end of Avenue Robert Schuman. Schuman was a key figure in the early negotiations on European integration after the Second World War. Over the past week, as the consequences of Brexit begin to play out, this junction between the colonial archive and Schuman’s avenue has come to seem a physical monument to the intersection between memories of empire and the European present. Continue reading “Patristics and Europe in 1951”→