Laura Hartmann-Villalta Co-Chaired a Roundtable on Caregiving, COVID-19, and Precarity in the Academy at the Modern Language Association 2021 Convention
On January 10, 2021, Laura Hartmann-Villalta and Emily C. Bloom chaired a Just in Time roundtable on Caregiving, COVID-19, and Precarity in the Academy at the Modern Language Association 2021 Convention, which took place online from 7 to 10 January, 2021. The roundtable addressed the impact and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic on academics: the shift to online teaching; blending of home, work, and educational spaces; disruption of research plans; termination of teaching contracts; and widespread visa bans. Although the academy responded to the pandemic in some reasonable ways, it failed to take into account the caregiving responsibilities of many academics and the financial concerns that often accompany precarious academics, such as non-tenured faculty, international scholars, early-career academics, and tenured faculty whose futures are in jeopardy due to financial crisis that has resulted from the pandemic. This roundtable intervened the “business as usual” academic attitudes to discuss the real crisis around care responsibilities, precarity in all its forms, career goals, and COVID-19. The participants discussed juggling online teaching with supervising children’s virtual schools; the shifting regulatory terrain that international scholars faced; the “triple crisis” of police brutality, a lack of childcare support, and the pandemic for Black scholars; the pressures of relocation during a pandemic for early career scholars and contingent faculty; and the costs of constant vigilance for those at high risk for Covid or those with children, spouses, or parents at high risk.