It's application season again, and I find it hard to keep a sane head with all the self-marketing, tailoring, record keeping, quantifying and showing off citations and alternative metrics of the impact of my work on mankind (and on that subset called academia). I also at times find it hard to swallow my fair share of rejections and the dismal HR practice that seems to flourish in universities.

Luckily, I came across a way to cheer me up: the practice of keeping a "shadow CV", a list of the jobs, grants and prizes one did not get, of the publications and conference papers that were rejected and hence never make it to one's official record. The shadow CV puts things into perspective - and hey, now I can not only add a new line to my CV when I achieve something, but also when I don't!

The idea seems to have originated, befittingly, in the comment thread on a post on desperation, addiction and the CV, but google it and you will find plenty fine specimen. So without further ado, here comes my list of failures, in mildly anonymized form, last updated on March 24, 2017, and of course to be read alongside the official glorious and glamorous list:

Education

2009: did not graduate in my theology minor, despite initial enthusiasm

Employment

2016: Denmark, permanent assoc prof level position in Sociology, voted 'qualified' and interviewed, but came in close second

2016: Germany, fixed term position in South Asian Studies, offer declined

2016: Netherlands, fixed term position in religious studies, not shortlisted

2016: UK Russell Group, fixed-term position in religious studies, shortlisted, interviewed and voted 'appointable', but came in close second once more...

2016: Norway, permanent position in anthropology, not interviewed as I had 'insufficient time post-PhD to demonstrate sustained research excellence'

2016: UK Russell Group, TT position in sociology, not shortlisted

2016: UK Russell Group, fixed-term position in anthropology, not shortlisted

2016: Germany, TT position in South Asia, shortlisted and interviewed, but unfortunately someone else appears to have been a better fit. Not that anybody could know for sure - in spite of the 'essential' requirements for the post, she hasn't published her work... Oh German academia, I love you!

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in politics, not shortlisted, four times

2016: UK post-92, permanent position in sociology, not shortlisted, four times

2016: Germany, TT position in area studies, longlisted but not further as I informally heard - not that they would bother to tell me themselves...

2016: Netherlands, permanent position in IR, not shortlisted

2016: India, leadership position in study abroad, offer declined

2016: Netherlands, permanent position in Conflict Studies, not shortlisted

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in Big Data, shortlisted and interviewed, alas ultimately not appointed...

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in development studies, not shortlisted, thrice

2016: UK post-92, permanent position in politics, not shortlisted, thrice

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in anthropology, not shortlisted, three times

2016: Ireland, TT position in sociology, not shortlisted

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in human geography, not shortlisted, a whooping eleven times

2016: UK Russell Group, permanent position in methodology, not shortlisted, twice

2015: UK Russell Group, TT position in sociology, not shortlisted

2015: UK Russell Group, permanent position in urban studies, not shortlisted, twice

2015: Netherlands, TT position in religious studies, shortlisted but came in close second, damnit - so close...

2015: Netherlands, fixed term position in religious studies, quasi-shortlisted, then de-shortlisted after prolongued, months-long wait...

2015: Netherlands, tenured position in conflict studies, not shortlisted

2015: UK mid-range, TT position in human geography, not shortlisted

2015: UK Russell Group, postdoc in South Asian Studies, not shortlisted, twice

2015: UK post-92, permanent position in anthropology, not shortlisted

2015: Germany, academic management, not shortlisted, three times

2015: Germany, postdoc in South Asian Studies, not shortlisted

2015: Switzerland, postdoc in political science, not shortlisted

2014: Germany, postdoc in South Asian Studies, not shortlisted, twice

2014: Germany, academic management, not shortlisted

2014: Germany, postdoc in sociology, promised informally but the job was never advertised

Associate and visiting positions

2015: US R1, one year visiting fellowship, not even shortlisted

2014: US R1, one month visiting fellowship, not even shortlisted

2013: US R1, one month visiting fellowship, not even shortlisted

Publications

2016: this paper was rejected by Urban Studies before it got accepted with minor revisions by Environment and Planning A

2014: a co-authored chapter on India-Afghan relations died the silent death of a book project that never came to frutition

2012: The proposal for my Gujarat book was rejected 14 times before SAGE agreed to read the whole manuscript, and eventually published. Two rejections were warm (i.e. "we would love too, but have just published sth similar) - from Zed and Hurst. The others were cold - from Oxford, Princeton, SAAD, Routledge, Cambridge, Indiana, Stanford, Chicago, Ashgate, Rowman & Littlefield, Duke and Permanent Black (read the whole story)

2012: an encyclopedia entry did not meet the quality requirements

2011: this paper was rejected flat by Friedenswarte, before eventually making it into Internationales Asienforum (after a R&R)

Grants, prizes and scholarships

2017: did not succeed to get seed funding for a postdoctoral fellow (who would have worked with me on a larger grant bid)

2016: rejected by the Wikimedia Foundation (small grant for a workshop on open science in Delhi)

2016: rejected by the GSO Leadership Academy

2016: some have said my dissertation felt a bit like political science, but that didn't suffice to become the best in (German) political science that year...

2014: nominated, but not even shortlisted for the AAS's Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize (but then I won their best grad student paper prize the same year)

2011: a large networking grant application which I coordinated for 25 investigators from six universities was ultimately rejected by ANR, DFG, ESRC, ICSSR and NWO (with a 14% success rate overall in their joint call)

2009: the Christiana Rajewsky prize in peace and conflict studies went not to me, but - well deserved - to my colleague and friend Hannah Franzki

Conference presentations

2016: Workshop in Nottingham - chickened out bc/of childcare trouble - so no real 'failure', but a legit shadow CV line nonetheless: meant to be but wasn't...

2016: Workshop in Göttingen - same story as Nottingham

2013: IIAS workshop in Hongkong - abstract rejected

2013: Workshop on democracy and violence in Bielefeld - chickened out

2011: Yale South Asia Workshop - abstract rejected

2010: IWM Summer School - abstract rejected

2009: Yale South Asia Workshop - abstract rejected

The point of solace is, of course, that I was able to learn from some of these failures, and subsequently got there in a different way. So note to self: there is hope on the horizon. The journey continues (as does, probably, this list)...

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