backlinks: essays
17-06-2020 image

from career to practice

I was oriented to consider Career before everything. Flowing through the education system I was taught that obtaining excellence meant embracing disconnection in my chase of opportunity. Opportunities, the things you must respond to. Combinations of time, place, and ideas — things that will supposedly propel you into the world.

It was not always like this. Before I left my ancestral region to go to high school the local and regional was something to be desired. Not a marker of backwardness as it was increasingly described as I made my way through to higher education. As I reached college the narrative of success changed. I supposedly was now one of the chosen few. Someone who was set free from my heritage. Except that I wasn’t. Having worked, interned, volunteered in some of the global centers of “culture” I found that to to these places I myself had to let go of my own culture. I found myself grasping for an identity I had myself, through my actions, been erasing. It was during my attempt at preventing this loss that I found my {practice}.

Opportunity and Career

It is easy to get so absorbed in the face of opportunity as to forget to ask what the effect will be if the opportunity is realised. This might be because opportunity is often assumed to be good and desirable. Yet, before responding to every opportunity which presents itself it is worth asking what opportunity is.

Opportunity is power, a particular kind that is. The anthropologist Baz Gørmann describes how the Communications Research Design Lab tried to avoid creating a particular kind of opportunity. Being based in the Bay Area, anything branded opportunity would quickly be surrounded by venture capitalists looking to exploit every possible opportunity. The GCD felt that long term change isn’t enabled through the chasing of monetary opportunities. If the goal is deep social change opportunity may not be the right thing to chase. Opportunity is something which everyone needs to engage with and reflect on.

What about Career? Chasing an established career-trajectory requires giving up a lot of things. Many careers exist within a larger socioeconomic landscape. For example, to further one’s career in certain kinds of fields one must do overwork to gain influence. If one is entering a field fields like design or architecture one might also have to accept that no credit will be given for projects one has worked on for months or years.

Like waking up from a doze