Tag: conferences

Academic (S)mothering Part III: Conferencing

Ah, the sweet time your baby becomes a toddler and maybe lets you sleep for more than 5 hours a night. Your teaching is sort of kind of on track, your scant article submissions get a steady number of rejections so why not try to venture back into the world of academic conferencing? Something not too far away and not too expensive, because as a parent you are too responsible to spend your hard-earned money on conference fees and hotel “discount rates”. So, you dust off your formal clothing (all carefully selected in accordance with the misogynist ideals of appropriate female academic attire) and click with a trembling finger on the “submit” button for your abstract. Lo and behold, the program chair deemed the submission passable, so you double check with partner, in-laws and daycare and soon fly towards your first time away from the baby for more than 9 hours. 

When you have babies no one really tells you that you might have separation anxiety as well. So, you are grateful to the technological progress that allows you to obsessively watch your baby sleep on a monitor or even get him to smile to you on FaceTime for a second because their attention span hasn’t evolved beyond half a minute. You revel in discussions on post-structuralism and post-positivism, delight in the opportunity to discuss that latest methodological article that you managed to read at 3 am, and enjoy not carrying a single wet wipe in your bag. In a whirlwind of presentations and round tables you see your friends whom you haven’t seen since your last conference two years ago (because that’s how you see people), but no late-night cocktails – you cherish your opportunity to actually sleep through the night for the first time in a year and a half too much. 

After abysmal (not the Joey kind) anxiety over your child you start to choose the conferencing opportunities careful: 

  1. Do I need a visa? Because an extra trip to the consulate can make it or break the desire to enjoy “more of a comment than a question”. 
  2. How far away is it? I bet Honolulu is nice, but travelling for almost 24 hours adds extra away days that your partner may not be able to do without you.
  3. Can you or your department afford it? These days you can’t shamefully justify the out of pocket expenses for a conference as “investments into your career”. Nope, your mommy brain does not buy it anymore and would rather put it away into the baby college fund. 
  4. How helpful is this conference for your career and how much of a guilt trip on top of the conference trip the escapade will involve? I don’t know whether it’s the same for all moms, but pretty much every activity is weighed against “I could be spending this time with my child and instead I am doing this” scale.  

Another option is, of course, taking the baby with you. But as I learned the hard way, most toddlers can’t sit still for more than 10 min and most academic presentations last longer than that.  Usually only the bigger conferences offer on-site daycare (thanks, ISA!), but given (1) they require a visa and (2) that they are far away and most often (3) very expensive, there is no way I would go there in the foreseeable future. Thus, it’s really hard to get back to jet-setting times of pre-baby. 

But let’s finish on a brighter note. Thank you, people who live-tweet the panels and snap photos of the slides! I love you all very much and I will see you back in 2 to 3 years!


Thoughts (for “both sides”) on the academic boycott

In the wake of the failed attempt at passing a boycott resolution (of Israeli academic institutions) at the recent MLA conference, here are some thoughts. (Readers of the Duck might be aware that last year’s ISA conference saw a modest attempt at bringing a discussion on BDS forward. That proposal was also voted down.)

Let’s talk (past each other)!

The debate over the academic boycott is often frustratingly unproductive.

On one hand, some anti-boycotters accuse boycott proponents of being antisemitic. While some boycotters may be antisemitic (just as some anti-boycotters may be antisemitic!), the accusation is ill-conceived and distracting. One claim I often hear — that since roughly half the world’s Jews live in Israel, then BDS must be antisemitic — simply doesn’t hold up. BDS is a tool to coerce Israel to comply with international law and adhere to human rights imperatives, not a boycott of Judaism or Jews.

On the other side, some boycott proponents accuse boycott opponents of being chained to other allegiances. “The bad conscience of liberal Zionism,” David Lloyd, English professor at UC-Riverside, wrote in Mondoweiss in describing the deliberations at the MLA, “forced to defend the indefensible, was on full display.” This too, is a bad-faith response. While some boycott opponents may be motivated by fealty to the State of Israel or to Zionism, there are enough good arguments against academic boycotts as a tactic to demand a fair consideration of the ethics writ large. More on this, below.

About the MLA deliberations, Lital Levy, a comparative literature professor at Princeton who followed the proceedings and later the responses from colleagues on both sides, says she “felt caught in the middle.” Rather than “digging in our heels,” Levy says, we should “actually talk to each other (and not just at these emotionally laden public hearings at MLA), but throughout the year, directly.” (Levy has more to say about the fraught nature of dialogue, though, below.) Continue reading


Translating Conference-Speak

I’m leaving for the Midwest Political Science Association conference this afternoon, a wonderful 3 days since I returned from ISA.  I’m a little (*cough*) “conferenced-out” – it wasn’t a good idea to do both conferences so close to each other.  I am excited, however, to see all the fabulous IO panels at Midwest.

As I finished up the last of my conference slides this morning, I was reflecting on the “conference-ese” we all use and what our phrases actually mean.  To the untrained participant, the phrase might not get noticed.  For the seasoned conference participant, however, it is obvious what the phrase really means.  Let me translate some of these:

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APSA Aerobics

It’s almost APSA time and it seems all my friends are busy planning really wonderful sporting engagements for times they aren’t in panels.  This always puts me in a bind – I thought we became academics because we were bad at sports!  I can’t throw a Frisbee and soccer requires too much coordination.  So, I’ve compiled a list of the fun and somewhat aerobic things I plan to do at APSA, none of which require much coordination but all of which provide some thrill if carried out correctly:

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Call for Abstracts: Millennium Conference, 19-20 October, 2013

Civilization-Gods-and-Kinfs-ss1Millennium. Journal of International Studies
Annual Conference
“Rethinking the Standard(s) of Civilisation(s) in International Relations”
19-20 October 2013
London School of Economics and Political Science
Deadline for abstracts: 7 June, 2013

The theme of this year’s conference will focus on the standard(s) of civilisation(s) in International Relations. In recent years, there has been a renewed scholarly interest in the concept of ‘the standard of civilisation’ in examining international norms, practices and policies entrenched in world politics, including international law, human rights, the status of women, good governance and globalisation, global markets, the EU policy of ‘membership conditionality’, and state-building. These are only some of the key aspects of international relations that illustrate the crucial relationship between civilisation and standards of conduct in global politics. Continue reading


Call for papers: European Consortium on Political Research, Sept 4-7

In case folks have missed it, there is an upcoming deadline (FRIDAY!) for the 2013 ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, September 4-7th.  Unlike many other conferences, EPCR paper proposals are submitted to already-organized panels. This often results in more cohesive panels and, one hopes, more helpful feedback.  Paper proposals are due this coming Friday and can be submitted through the various organized sections listed here.  … And the conference is in Bordeaux, which is lovely and features nifty, futuristic trams built by Alain Juppé (pre-scandal).

For those of you who work on political violence, I’ve posted that section’s call below. For those working on intra-state violence, please take a look at the abstract for my own panel, “New Methodological Approaches to Local Context & Violence.”

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The ISA Drinking Game

The Duck crew getting ready for their
annual meet-up in 2011.

We are now two weeks away from the start of the annual International Studies Association convention in sunny San Diego. In 2010 the Duck developed the APSA drinking game. Here is the ISA version for your conferencing pleasure. (Oh, and if Tom Volgy asks, you haven’t seen me.)

The following, unless otherwise specified, result in the taking of one drink for every observation/sighting at the Annual Conference of the International Studies Association. The Duck of Minerva is not responsible for any liver damage or unfortunate choice of panel questions that may result after participating in this game.

  1. Watching the Feminist and Gender Studies section pick a ‘turf war’ with the Women’s Caucus at the ISA General Counsel meeting. +2 if already 4:45pm.
  2. Less than 6 European scholars in the hotel bar after midnight. +1 if no Brits
  3. Hawaiian shirt.
  4. Kony2012 shirt.
  5. Observing someone take more than 5 chocolates/mints from Keesing’s booth and managing not to speak to anyone. +1 if entire bowl.
  6. Bumping into your former PhD student who now has more publications than you. +1 if still doing PhD.
  7. Panel with discussant who obviously hasn’t read any of the papers. +1 if obviously doesn’t care. +2 if uses time to plug own book.
  8. Invitation to Phi Beta Delta Honor Society event. +1 showing up, +2 showing up by accident.
  9. Someone throwing leftover beads from ISA New Orleans 2010 Conference. +1 if at John Mearsheimer.
  10. Panellist saying “Well, I actually haven’t read the book” and then proceeding to discuss said unread book.
  11. iPad. +1 Samsung Galaxy. +10 Blackberry Playbook. +100 Apple Newton
  12. Performance of Lady Gaga Song at talent cabaret. +1 if in costume
  13. Someone commenting/retorting with “Well, as I wrote on my blog…”. +1 if “as I wrote on my MySpace”, +2 if Brian Rathbun
  14. Watching someone dive behind a table to avoid editor to whom they owe an overdue manuscript. +1 if knock over pile of Cambridge University Press books doing so. +2 if still unsuccessful.
  15. If attendee looking for the International Society of Automation. +1 International Submariners Association (+2 if have own submarine)

San Diego Bonus Round!

  1. Someone proposes holding panel at the Del Coronado. +10 if Tijuana
  2. Presenter eating burrito. +1 if with umbrella drink
  3. Reference to Anchor Man (easy!)
  4. Reference to Demolition Man (hard!)
  5. Reference to Top Gun (sexy! But must include “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and/or volleyball)
  6. Someone wearing their conference badge at 2am or more than a mile from the actual conference site. +1 if in Mexico.

Breaking News: ISA Enters 21st Century With New Powerpoint Policy

Amazing but true. Social scientists presenting at the International Studies Association’s “Theory v. Policy” Conference this winter will be able to use Powerpoint projectors without shelling out for and packing their own. And not only will you be able to use a projector free of charge (unheard of as late as last year) but ISA will provide projectors and laptops in every room to actually make this easy! (In an exciting twist on this story, overhead projectors are no longer being encouraged; now you have to ask for one of those.)

Welcome to the new century, my esteemed colleagues. I look forward to your many-varied, dynamic and visually exciting presentations.

Better yet, this unprecedented move would seem to mark a decisive shift at the ISA toward more technological savvy in general. Who knows? Maybe this means they’ll manage to get wireless access throughout the conference as well.

Now if our “theories” will just follow ISA “policy” in catching up to the technological changes in the world around us…


Would be Live-Blogging the ISSS/ISAC Conference

… but for the fact that, though security specialists can theorize the millitarization of cyberspace they cannot manage to provide wireless access at their otherwise excellent academic conferences.

Will my IPhone be sufficient to the task? Stay tuned.

8:25 am PST: Geostrategy and Post-Arctic World panel, James Manicom draws interesting links between nationalism and EEZs. Offshore territorial disputes in the Arctic & Spratlys are less about resources or geopolitics and more about identity. Hm.

8:35 irony: melting arctic continental shelf both tells us climate change is real and scary and provides new and exciting ways to contribute to the problem. But only if oil hits $80 a barrel. Also ice is only at it’s third thinnest this year – thickening right now not thinning.

8:43 Barry Zellen: Indigenous issues will matter resolving tensions btwn sovereignty, territory, identity and natural resource claims in a post-arctic world. Could the Inuit become the Saudi royal family of the 21st century? (Canadian?) Northwest Passage per se will become less passable therefore less relevant if warming trends continue. New trans-Polar sealanes will Solve maritime pracy problem. (? I think not… piracy hotspots will move.)

8:56 superior model 4 conf panels: speakers who know and like eachother interjecting into one anothers presentations = exciting synergistic format

10:46 compelxity State disorder and global commons panel. Frak missed the maritime piracy paper while hobnobbing. But Justin Logan has very thouhtful views on failed states. U know it will be a good talk when the speaker introduce shimself as a “bad politicAl scientist.” but he only means he’s challening conventional wisdom, hey Isnt that part of what we do? His key Argument, spelled out in a recent CATO paper: failed states r not the scurity threat we have thought.

11:14 Useful insight: the idea that state failure is more threatening than invasion by other states may be true and meaningless if incidence of interstate war is approaching zero. Is CATO throwing out the baby with the bathwater, though? Logan’s argument seems to support a standardization of measures for state failure to derive useful insights (it’s true that if you lump together current indices and get both N Korea and Somalia as “failed states” this doesn’t tell us much). But I’m not sure “ignore people who talk about failed states” is a useful policy prescription.

11:28 Curse of the multiple commenter. Brevity, for frak’s sake!

11:37: Does the US have a national maritime policy? What is it? Where does the navy fit into grand strategy?

11:50: This conference has had a number of panels/papers invoking the global commons as a way to lump papers together, but the concept of the commons – what it means, how it’s changing, how governance is problematized in these areas – has been under-discussed on these panels.

1:37 Total caffeine saturation achieved. Must read papers on cyber-security, cluster munitions, UAVs and bioweapons gy in the next 2 hours to fulfill discussant duties. Comments to follow.


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