Graphic Installation on Carers in HE

Graphic Installation on Carers in HE

Dr. Marie Pierre Moreau and I have perpetrated a delicious graphic installation piece of comics-based/arts-based research focusing on the experiences of carers in higher education. This project has been generously supported by an AdvanceHE Good Practice Grant. We hope to bring the exhibit to locations across the UK and the US in 2021, coronavirus allowing. However, you can follow project updates on twitter @mpsmoreau and @ProfessorMommy (that’s me!) and also see the entire project on Dr. Moreau’s website here:

This project was profoundly affecting. My own dissertation and early career research focused on carers and carework, specifically early years teachers and mothers in higher education, and intersectional analyses of race and gender that might illuminate the complex landscape of feminized labour in all its forms. I returned to this strand of my research two years ago with new pieces on race and workplace feminization, however this installation was my first arts-based exploration of the world of carework. It was, by turns, exhilarating, painful and mind boggling, and was a privilege to be able to do this intense work with Dr. Moreau, an internationally recognized arts-based scholar in the world of research on carers.

Some selected panels are in the gallery, below, however I encourage you to visit Dr. Moreau’s website to see the complete work and access the informational booklet that accompanies the installation itself. Be on the lookout for updates about a face to face gallery experience once the world rights itself!

Also, the irony that I have been writing and drawing a project on how carers are marginalized in the academy while a single parent of three children during the pandemic is not lost on me. I encourage all the academics who are also carers to include this information in every piece of work they produce to draw attention to this added dimension of “lockdown”.

UPDATE: Best of all, people really love this work. We are hearing from people all over the world who resonate with its themes and feel validated.

From a colleague in Finland posting to an Anthropology list:

“I just wanted to respond to this, as a carer in academia, in order to give it a boost, and get others to read it too. This hits such a sore spot, in so many personally, politically and intellectually important ways, and I want to applaud the scholars who put it together. It’s a quick but important read; take a few moments to read through! The questions dealt with in this piece of academic art are hugely important, and they are important in very particular ways for anthropologists and others engaged in academic work that carries with it expectations of ‘fieldwork’ cut off from many of the relations of care (both giving and receiving) in which they are enmeshed in their everyday lives.  So again: thanks to the authors. To all of you who share that ‘ouch’ feeling of this artwork touching a nerve: we’re in this together. We just have to find ways to make ourselves heard, and challenge the ways in which we are pushed to render our care realities, and the joys and challenges they bring with them, invisible to the academic gaze.”


Henni Alava
PhD, Post-doctoral researcher, University of Jyväskylä

(shared with permission)

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