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For First Time APSA Annual Convention to be Held in Africa

September 4, 2012

“All the fake news that’s fit to print”
 –Washington, DC
The valets at the Kinchasa Hilton will be happy to take your bags.

The American Political Science Association announced today that it will hold its 2013 annual meeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After being criticized for its belated cancellation of this year’s convention in New Orleans on account of Hurricane Isaac, the organization’s leadership was looking for a site that would provide fewer potential headaches. APSA President G. Bingham Powell told reporters, “We have been assured that there is 0% chance of a hurricane hitting the Congo on Labor Day, or as they call it here, Mubutu Assassination Day. Curiously they celebrate the same way, by taking a three day weekend. What could go wrong?”

Extreme weather has made it increasingly difficult to plan APSA’s convention. Terrible droughts have rendered the West unsafe due to fires. Global warming has raised the temperature too high for Atlanta. San Francisco is always at risk of an earthquake. Washington, DC, in Powell’s words, “sucks.” That leaves other options only outside the country. “Honestly,” he said, “New Orleans in hurricane season looked like our best bet. Live and learn.”

In 2010, APSA held its annual convention just outside of U.S. lines, in neighboring Toronto. Political scientists tell reporters that this is the capital of Canada. The Toronto conference was a great success as attendees remarked on the great warmth and friendliness of their neighbors north of the border. From here, sources say, it was a natural choice to expand APSA into newer markets. Powell said, “There is no reason to restrict the APSA brand to the United States. We hope to show young Congolese boys and girls that if they work hard and apply themselves, maybe one day they can present at one these conferences, too. Plus we got a great rate at the Kinchasa Hilton.”

However, APSA’s decision has met with criticism in some corners of the organization. A caucus of political scientists called “Perestroika” has circulated a letter condemning the holding of the conference in a poor African country as “neoimperialism.” “APSA, as always, is looking to take advantage of cheap underdeveloped country labor. Hotel employees at the Kinchasa Hilton will struggle to put food on the table for their families while Executive Committee fat cats will sip fruity drinks by the poolside for only $2 instead of the usual $15 at American convention venues. And the Congo denies basic human rights, like gay marriage. That is unacceptable in 21st century Africa.”

APSA officials had no comment but responded with their own press release: “APSA appreciates the values of cultural diversity. We can think of no better place to celebrate those virtues than this enormous country in the heart of Africa in which all tribes and nationalities mingle and live peacefully.”

Political scientists are nevertheless urged to prepare appropriately, stressing that students of Congress might be surprised that a different currency is used in the Congo than in the United States. It is recommended that all political scientists bring raw diamonds to avoid currency exchange fees and facilitate local transactions, such as ransom-paying.

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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.