Snapshots of AAAs Past

AAA No.1*

My god, who are all these people? I never knew there were so many anthropologists! And so many books, panels, sub-fields, panels, etc. how to navigate it all? Maybe I’ll run out and do some sight-seeing instead…

AAA No.2

I’m giving a paper this time, but luckily it’s scheduled at a time nobody except my adviser will be there. Now that I’m in grad school I know some people who can help me navigate. I follow them around like a baby chicken.

AAA No.3

OMG! OMG! OMG! I’m organizing a panel and people might actually show up. They do! The room is packed because of our famous discussant… Oh no… Turns out he was viciously attacked by a panel he thought was going to honor him and he’s in a foul mood. He takes it out on a bunch of grad students (the first-session panelists). Everyone leaves after his rant and nobody sticks around for my paper.

AAA No.4

Job interviews that go nowhere. AAAUnite seeks support for striking hotel workers. Departmental politics in the corridors. Old friends and new ones meet up for drinks. What the hell is a “poster session” and why haven’t I noticed them before?

AAA No.5

I have a job! I’m on an “executive committee”! My film wins a prize! People are starting to read the blog! Savage Minds has Open Access T-shirts! Maybe I’m getting the hang of this thing? Panels? Who goes to panels?

AAA No.6

I go to panels. After twenty years of AAAs I think I’m finally starting to master the art of picking out one or two sessions to see each day. (You can read my live-blog of these sessions here.) I also organize a panel I’m really proud of, even if it’s overshadowed by a double session on the same theme by a group of much more famous scholars. Oh, and I meet with book publishers – but for a translation project. I still don’t have my own book to pitch. Maybe at the next AAA?

*The numbering is purely stylistic and impressionistic. My memory isn’t good enough to recall how many AAAs I’ve attended over the past 20 years, or what happened at which one. I just wanted to convey how one’s experience of academic conferences changes over time.

5 thoughts on “Snapshots of AAAs Past

  1. Here’s another snapshot: I spend one morning in section assembly, which resembles the faculty meetings that I try to skip on campus, then spend the afternoon at a board meeting and a workshop (but that was actually enlightening and a lot of fun). I then spend another morning at a meeting, and finally do get to hear a panel. But because the business meeting is that evening, I didn’t really get a chance to process anything. I thought it would be fun this year, since there’s no search going on, unlike the past two years.

  2. This year’s AAA was my first and I felt sorta overwhelmed but very happy to be there. “My people!” or “All these people know who [name of old dead anthro here] is! And care! This is so cool!” Fortunately, for my nerves, I was presenting on the last day and during the last session time and there were only about 10 people in the room (including us three presenters). Perfect for this public-speaking newbie.

    Looking back, I remember jogging from one session to another and wishing I could be in two places at once. I never did go to any of the workshops I signed and paid up for. There were too many networking opportunities during the sessions (and too many sessions with interesting topics). For next year’s AAA conference (if I can afford to go) I will (1) not sign up for a workshop unless it offers an immediate practical return; (2) Find a bakery or coffee shop nearby and bring a sandwich or baked item for in-between session snacks; (3) Attend more association meetings that I belong to that offer free food (not just because I’m broke having recently graduated with my MA, but because I simply didn’t have the time to wait in line and buy a meal or latte at the conference hotel in between sessions); (4) Say “Yes, thank you!” to an invitation to present at another conference (and figure out how to pay to get there later). Oh well. Next year…! I hope these tips help new-to-AAA conference attendees in the future.

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