10 Questions with Shiloh Groot

<p>Shiloh Groot, co-editor of <em>Precarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand</em></p>

Shiloh Groot, co-editor of Precarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand

1. Why did you all want to write this book?  

Because knowledge shouldn’t be hoarded by elite individuals. Because we want to share the stories of the courageous and resilient communities we work with. Because if we don’t work to change the narrative, it comes with a body count.


2. Proud of it?

Immensely so.


3. Its release around the election is timely. What impact do you hope it will have, both immediately and later?

We hope to change the focus from blaming people for the trauma and suffering impacting their lives to one that acknowledges the rights of all citizens to live in dignity and safety.


4. How did you manage working on it together as a team?

We are a close community of scholar activists in New Zealand; many of us have been working supportively together for some time or in the very least we can draw on our collective networks to shoulder-tap amazing people with the appropriate expertise!


5. How did you select the contributors?

We looked at the social issues impacting New Zealand today that had raised significant public concern and worked together to find passionate scholars who we knew could engage the public in careful and considerate discussion. Personally, this was perhaps the most incredible part of compiling the book. It meant we were able to support and highlight diverse areas of research that we may not have been able to do otherwise. We all have our areas of expertise and this represented an opportunity to meaningfully collaborate and share the breadth and diversity of our work and concerns.


6. Was the project exhilarating or exhausting?

Exhilarating and invigorating; any opportunity to work with diverse communities and scholars is inspiring. That’s not to say it was easy and not without moments of exhaustion!


7. Are you more concerned now about the precarious lives that so many New Zealanders are living than when you started the book?

This close to the election my concern is heightened. If things continue as they are the inequities between peoples and communities will significantly heighten. And like I’ve said previously, this comes with a body count. I’m tired of watching people die.


8. What will it take for the nation to address this?

I suppose a very good and deceptively simple start would be: a change of government that genuinely cares for all citizens wellbeing; an empathetic public that is willing to hold our governments accountable; a coordinated and resourced network of compassionate service providers; a community of scholars willing to step out of the ivory tower and share knowledge; and the diverse communities comprising the precariat working together in solidarity to speak to the issues impacting their lives.


9. What is one thing you hope people will take away from reading it?

The last line of the book summarises our hopes nicely: ‘It is from an understanding of our interconnectedness that we can resist, act and meaningfully work to address the struggles impacting on the diverse communities that comprise the precariat.’


10. What are you reading at the moment, for work and for pleasure?

For work I am reading UK economist Guy Standing’s most recent book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen. For pleasure, Sowetan author K. Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams.