The life of an academic historian has occasional hazards. When our School sent its collection of Parliamentary Papers to be repaired, they dealt with an insect infestation by dusting them with arsenic, so we are warned to wash our hands after using them. I’ve heard rumours of a poisonous spider that lives in the South African Archives; does anyone know if this is true? A Pacific historian I know nearly died after treading on a stonefish while taking a student group to Vanuatu.
Usually though, the main dangers are mental rather than physical. Australian historians risk becoming collateral damage in the History Wars (and most nations have an equivalent hot-button historical issue). Teaching can be stressful, as is the imperative to publish or perish. But we don’t use knives or chain saws, fly helicopters or breathe coal dust. It’s all inside work with no heavy lifting.
So I was startled a couple of weeks ago to be told that I probably have a work-related injury. Continue reading