We are delighted to host Fobazi Ettarh, who first created the term “Vocational Awe” and has written extensively on its threats to the health and well being of librarians in particular and those employed in “calling” fields in general. Vocational awe refers to “the set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.”
In today’s conversation Fobazi illustrates how the idea of a “sacred calling,” so often ascribed to librarians and faculty alike, mystifies the fact that it is labor within a capitalist system, and makes it almost impossible to push for fair compensation, or non-exploitative working conditions. In addition, it prevents acknowledging the degree that libraries are, like other institutions, foundations of white supremacy. Fobazi breaks down all the ways that racism permeates both access to libraries (and the academy more broadly), and working conditions of the professionals who staff them.
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