Imagine Otherwise: Fobazi Ettarh on the Limits of Vocational Awe

Imagine Otherwise: Fobazi Ettarh on the Limits of Vocational Awe

October 24, 2019

In the latest episode of Imagine Otherwise, I interview librarian Fobazi Ettarh about what it means to be a radical librarian, how vocational awe limits solidarity options in libraries and academia, how progressive archivists and librarians of color are stitching critical race and feminist theory into the very fabric of knowledge repositories, and why demanding the impossible is a crucial way Fobazi imagines otherwise.


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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Fobazi’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Fobazi Ettarh wearing a black sleeveless shirt and glasses. Text reads: Fobazi Ettarh on the Limits of Vocational Awe, Imagine Otherwise episode 98

Guest: Fobazi Ettarh

Fobazi M. Ettarh is the undergraduate success librarian at Rutgers–Newark. Her identities as a first-generation American, queer, and disabled women of color shapes her librarianship, which is guided by critical perspectives and the deconstruction of white supremacy.

Creator of the concept of “vocational awe,” Fobazi’s research focuses on the tensions between the espoused values of librarianship and the realities present in the experiences of marginalized librarians and users. She also studies equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries, specifically how social and organizational infrastructures privilege the works of certain groups over others.

Fobazi is the author of the article “Vocational Awe: The Lies We Tell Ourselves” and the blog WTF is A Radical Librarian, Anyway, which examines issues at the intersections of librarianship, education, activism, and social justice.

Key quote

“Equality is not pie. There’s no taking away. As people from the margins take more equity, it doesn’t mean that there’s less equity for everyone else. Rather it is a renewable resource, one that never runs dry.”

– Fobazi Ettarh on episode 98 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast


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