Strange Accounts: Applying for the Department Chair Position and Writing Threats and Secrets “in Play”


This autoethnographic layered account makes use of Georg Simmel and Jacques Derrida’s theoretical frameworks to simultaneously examine my experience of applying for the chair position in my department and to make the case for the use of strange accounts. Strange accounting is proposed as a method of writing about situations where there are secrets, risks, or threats. Strange accounts work with secrets through distance by leaving key information about the situations and identities of those represented in the story, unsettled, ambiguous, under erasure and “in play.” While applying for the chair position, I found the process to be destabilizing for both myself and my department. It was fraught with issues regarding strangeness and secrecy. The strange account (re)presents the role of the secret, while leaving the secret itself “in play.”

Publication Title

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography