Reservoir postdocs. On academia unemployment, hunt for grants and precarious living among (young) scholars

munch-the-scream-1440x1440A few months ago I read a Guardian article about a scholar who had decided to honour his friend by telling his traumatic story. The friend had killed himself due to his lack of success (widely defined) in academia. The men met during a fellowship a few years back and had remained friends despite one of them (the author) eventually attaining a position outside academia while his friend struggled with short-term postdoc positions until his tragic end. “Over the course of five years, Dolan held positions in Cambridge, Dublin, Southampton, Amsterdam and Crete, most of which meant living away from his partner.” When I read this piece, my six months of unemployment had just started and I couldn’t sleep for a couple of nights wondering: when will I reach the point where suicide becomes an option actually worth considering?

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