So long, & thanks for all the theory!

Eight years and still no degree.

Eight years, hundreds of texts, thousands of words, millilitres of tears, a handful of original ideas, hundreds of friends (made and lost), and so many poems – and still no degree.

Eight years, six good jobs, leadership of first a campus and then the national postgraduate association, where I fought long, hard, and loudly for everyone’s right to an excellent higher education experience, and still no degree.

Eight years, a deep understanding of cosmopolitan theory and the importance of food and foodways in society and politics, and an even deeper praxis from mindful eater to mindful farmer (and mindful meatsmith…)… and still no degree.

My PhD got me where I am today, but I don’t have a PhD, and I probably won’t because I’ve already arrived at my destination, and my work doesn’t require those letters at the end of my name.

I have loved my PhD for eight years, and today I’m letting it go.

When I switched disciplines from literature to cultural studies a decade ago it was a response to the latter’s explicitly articulated project to build public intellectuals – to be socially useful. 10 years immersed in cultural studies have aided me enormously in my desire to be socially useful.

While I have a very small regret not to pursue my agrarian intellectual life with a bonus three letters after my name, currently I’m shackled by them as I try to get on with doing my bit to transform Australia’s food systems.

I need hours each day to farm, butcher, deliver, and engage with eaters and fair food pioneers everywhere.  I need to do more of exactly what I am doing, not cloister myself to write something three people will read.  It’s a worthy project, but it’s no longer the right one for me.

Thank you to my long-suffering supervisor John Frow, those I’ve interviewed, and the many many colleagues and friends who have discussed, debated and nibbled at the edges of what our engagements with food really mean to any of us.  I wouldn’t be here today without your support, knowledge, critique and interest in this project.

I finally worked out how to savour the world while saving it, and it’s not in chapter three of my thesis, it’s here on the land, knife in one hand, pen in the other.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Kids on tramp

Published by

Tammi Jonas

The infrequent and imperfect yet impassioned musings of a farmer, meatsmith, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and cultural commentator with a penchant for food and community…

21 thoughts on “So long, & thanks for all the theory!”

  1. Hail Tammois –

    A huge decision to make and I feel grief, frustration, relief and grit in your words.

    I, too, have been there once…..toying with going there again (ideally for a short and good time :-) to rock the foundations which need to be shaken and stirred.

    Esoteric food security doesn’t exist yet, that’s how it’s regarded by those who generate substantial incomes from postulating then pontificating on this topic.

    Last weekend after I’d given a presentation on ‘Food Security in an Uncertain Future’ I asked myself – WHY do I care? Apart from ensuring my own genetic history is fed, WHY do I feel this sense of responsibility for everyone else?

    I still don’t have an answer – may not – and still asking the question.

    Thank you for your brilliant contributions in the creative spaces…..and meatsmithing combines praxis-with-outcome so deliciously.


  2. Wow. Huge decision. Congratulations on making it tho. Keep looking forward.

    Love to u all
    Ps #johnwouldbeproud

  3. Wow – big decision, Tammi. I know how much effort you have put into your study and your work, but you are so right – you have arrived and are doing just what you are so well equipped to be doing.
    Maybe some day you might go back to your doctorate, who knows? But right now you are doing amazing stuff!

  4. This is such a powerful decision. I was thinking of it a moment ago as I was reading Montaigne’s famous quote: “Je veux qu’on agisse, et qu’on allonge les offices de la vie tant qu’on peut, et que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux, mais nonchalant d’elle, et encore plus de mon jardin imparfait”. Very roughly: I want us to act, and to extend life as we may, and that death finds me planting my cabbages, but unworried by death, and even more so by my imperfect garden.”

    Your action seems to me entirely consistent with what cultural studies asks of us, even if this is something cultural studies seems to have forgotten.

  5. It’s a big decision and I know exactly how the process of making it works. Welcome to that other freemasonry of useless erudition—that surprisingly big club of us who’ve started, but not finished, doctoral studies, and are the better for it.

  6. Hey Tammi. I’ve been following your post-HE regulation exploits via Twitter and the occasional blog with interest. I trust moving on from the PhD gives you more energy to devote to your other passions. It is hard to make the choice but also OH. SO. LIBERATING. With every good wish for the next bit. Marita

  7. You know me Tammi. Stu knows me, so you both know I understand how hard it is to let the letters PHO go from my scolastic endeavours toward soup. But you know, PHO dont make you or me, We make PHO.
    In all seriousness you are one brave chick and hats off to Stu and your kids for supporting you and your families direction. As Buzz Lightyear says: To Infinity + beyond!

  8. Nathan, this most definitely means more time for joint projects! I’ve already started reading and writing more again – no longer caught in the headlights of a slow-moving but enormous thesis… Things are still pretty mad around here, of course, but I’m very keen to get more things out into the public domain. We should definitely talk soon! :-) x

  9. Kate, this is perfect. Thank you so much – the fact that I am acting true to my training rather than rejecting it is precisely what helped me make this important decision. Thank you so much for the acknowledgement!

  10. Thanks so much, Marita! My energy is better than ever thanks to removing the thesis-tumour from the back of my brain. :-) Now to get on with sav(our)ing!

  11. And Mel, Justin, Lizzy, Amanda and Steve – thank you for the supportive, kind words! I’m overwhelmed at everyone’s gracious reaction to my decision. Thank you! xo

  12. The decision to not do something is just as significant and as powerful as the decision to do something. And truthfully, you are replacing your current goal with a previous one, which is simply a redirection in life. Cheers and kudos to you. So much of our life is taken up with idea of what we think we should be doing instead of pursuing our true calling. Much continued success and happiness to you and your family. I miss you and think of you often.

  13. Good on you, Tammi. I, too, have chucked in a PhD in my time, and chucking it can seem just as hard as ploughing on. Hard to know what the &%^$* the degree is useful for. Wishing you peace, liberation and the energy of release!

  14. This is magical and exactly what I needed to read today whilst making life plans :) Thanks Tammi.

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