On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Annie Yan, American Cyberculture student at UC Berkeley.
The word “occupation,” for me, had always been synonymous with “career” or “job.” More recently, I began to see people’s occupations as roles, from both professional and social perspectives. In a group of friends, each member has his or her specific role. For example, one likes to plan things, another likes to joke around, another is crowned the “smart one,” and each person brings his or her own dynamics into the group. Similarly, in a stereotypical high school cafeteria, students sit according to their “occupations”: Freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, etc. are high school students’ occupations in the popular movie “Mean Girls.” The cliques, although different, all contribute to the social institution of the high school. “Occupation” could be given an even broader definition, and could apply to non-human species. For example, on a tree, different species of birds occupy different levels of the foliage based on their methods of obtaining food and protection; one could argue that the birds have ecological “occupations” since they interact with different parts of the tree and other species on the tree, and in the end all contribute to the mini ecosystem. Therefore, “occupation” could be used to describe people’s jobs (in the conventional use of the word), but could also apply to people’s roles in social situations, or even organisms in their biological niches.