Learning to labor: Thesis supervision and academic work in the graduate school

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2 Citations (Scopus)


What should, could, and does the thesis advisor do? Four years of teaching, researching, and supervising in a graduate program at a university in Taipei led me to search within - not beyond - the 'holy trinity of academic work' (i.e. teaching, research, and service) for a different interpretation on the laboring of university teachers. The neoliberal logic embodied in the numbers game, quantitative criteria of judgment, and inter-regional competition has formed specific conditions of laboring for university professors in East Asia. In this article, I advocate a 'learning to labor' perspective to situate teachers in the institutional, social, and global relations of laboring. I draw particular attention to affective labor - a quintessential form of labor in the global condition - and suggest its potential to formulate subjectivity in the current geopolitics of knowledge production. In this article, the productive power of affective labor is represented in three experimental texts: two short stories and a play. Created to document, grasp and learn from my interactions with my graduate advisees, this article hopes to sound out multiple voices and inflect laboring with consoling imagination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-468
Number of pages18
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective labor
  • Graduate teaching
  • Thesis advising
  • University workers in Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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