Week 12: Care Work + Emotional Education

The readings we selected for this week are interesting for many reasons, but they all come at a similar topic (care) from quite a few perspectives, which I appreciated. Cong-Huyen and Kush PatelĀ (2021) share their insights on the institutional dynamics and politics of care work, sharing their “radical care” approach to undoing/navigating some of the systemic issues within DH/libraries by promoting solidarity & collective action and prioritizing the well-being of workers. They also offer examples of what this practice might look like, including creating networks of support and mentorship for workers, advocating for fair labor practices and policies, and creating more equitable hiring and promotion practices.

Garcia et al. (2020) then shift us towards the pedagogical integration of care via practices like acknowledging and responding to students’ emotions, creating opportunities for students to share their personal stories and experiences, and cultivating a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.

Finally, Villaronga (2021) breaks down how care is often gendered, racialized, and social class-influenced, and how these power dynamics shape our understandings and practices of care. Villaronga (2021) then talks about how care work involves acknowledging and challenging these power dynamics and actively working to create more equitable and just systems and relationships with students and peers. One common trend I noticed across all three is how they describe care work to be an emotional and political act. I agree, which points us toward something I keep mentioning; the labor-intensiveness of care work. Also, I think the pandemic left many of us who were teaching/working in the early phases realizing that, depending on the context, care can easily fast-track burnout. I think it’s bizarre (but unsurprising) that, as a culture/society, we’ve delegitimized care and emotions in the workplace, resulting in the push to de-politicize caring as a result of things like the pandemic. I don’t know if this is making total sense; mostly still processing. I do have a genuine belief that much of this work will be better enacted/supported as generational shifts occur, but we’ll see.