ISSN : 2266-6060


Paris, March 2022.

Since the return to the office, the posters in the social room have multiplied to remind users to behave. Clean the dishes, empty the fridge, leave the table clean, wipe up the coffee spills. It was as if, after two years of the pandemic, we had all forgotten the small inconveniences and norms of living together. And then, the PhD students who came back to the lab had the idea of posting a big board in which people would explicitly take charge, every week, of keeping the room in good condition. This “collaborative housekeeping” was a good idea to help the cleaning lady who used to pass through the floors every morning.
Maybe they had also forgotten. Over the weeks, Anne-Charlotte, Marie, Alice, Raphaëlle, Nicole, Federica or Elsa wrote their first name in the columns of the board. However, we only read Quentin and Blaise, the only representatives of a genre that was clearly visible in the seminars, on the shelves of the libraries and in the meetings. Were they already doing the maintenance before the board arrived? Who was using the room and who felt responsible for its condition? Was the board legible enough? The sheet then received a first warning “if there are only girls, we’ll erase everything and start again”, then a second, vitriolic, “we’ll soon burn the board”. Finally, nobody wrote his name in the painting anymore. He remained there, exposing to the eyes of all the attempt to take charge of an infrastructure, the difficulties of cooperation and the anger that appears when invisible work is made visible. And, with his disinvestment, the conviviality room has, alas, regained its share of small inconveniences.

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