A Mid-summer night’s mare
This is a fairy tale (gone wrong) from the south of France. It does not take place in a castle, but on the Schuman campus of Aix-Marseille University. The plot does not involve a fairy or a witch, but a plain interim faculty administrator and a band of joyful and enthusiastic elves (my ERC research team) busy at digging data, planting knowledge trees, cooking algorithms, and ploughing through digital corpora. In plain words: doing research.
On 22 July, a big hammer fell on their head. Within 24 hours, they were to be kicked out of their cherished workshop for four weeks. And kicked out they were. The reason: the well-established tradition of « administrative closure » during which all university services and departments stop. And during which the whole planet is expected to stop as well.
Since the beginning of the ERC project in 2018, the team was spared the curse of induced sleep. The Research Building (Maison de la Recherche) remained open to us during these periods as we pursued « intensive research » (the official hallmark of Aix-Marseille University).
This year, with no argument, the iron gates (literally) closed. The drawing bridge was raised. We even received instructions that prohibited us from relocating our ERC-funded equipment to rented offices where we could resume our research activity. We exfiltrated it nonetheless, though we lost access to essential parts of the hardware and some small but crucial files.
We are now a band of wandering souls who first sought refuge in the premises of a friendly research lab, but just for a week. We shall resume our migration to another temporary port of abode, a co-working facility in downtown Aix en Provence. These are not exactly the conditions that level with the €2.5 million grant the ERC is investing in the ENP-China research project.
Exfiltration of equipment and… coffee machines !
Cite this blog post
Christian Henriot (2021, July 30). A Mid-summer night’s mare. Elites, Networks and Power in modern China. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/o8lu