Thursday, April 5, 2012

ISA 2012 Day 4 and Beyond

While conference exhaustion sets in on the last day, the final day of this year’s ISA was actually one of the best. 
  • It started with a meeting of those folks foolish enough to agree to serve as section program organizers for next year.  I will be putting together the Foreign Policy Analysis section’s program for the conference in San Francisco.  This is foolish because I tis a lot of work, and most of it will be just as I am moving.  Lovely.   But for this enterprise to work, people have to volunteer to do this kind of stuff. 
    • It plays to two weaknesses—I am a sucker for collective action (ISA poker, ISA ultimate, ISA dodgeball, ISA hotdog eating contest, ISA Vampire Hunting Competition, ISA dance-off, etc.); and, well, I am an attention hound. 
  • I then went to a panel on Libya in retrospect (focused on the intervention last year more than the events of this year) that had two friends on it, including my co-author (the often mentioned Dave of the Dave and  Steve book).  The audience was so small that they turned the panel into a conversation instead of a series of paper presentations.  It was fun, interesting, and quite helpful.
    • Dave and I met during the conference, ramping up the pace of the last stages of the book.  We hope to finish by the end of the month unless Dave is playing a cruel April Fool’s joke on me.
    • We did have some good timing—our piece in ISQ is not gated.  Usually, ISQ is restricted, but this month it is available to everyone and we happen to be in it.  Check it out.
  • We then went to watch another panel on Libya starring Roland Paris and Kim Marten with John Mearsheimer as discussant.  Roland spoke about R2P’s inherent contradictions, including fostering unrealistic expectations.  Not fated to fail, he said, but fated to flounder.  When it is successful, it means that an non-event happened—lives were not lost.  When intervention does not take place, then R2P gets blamed even if it would be inappropriate.  I am going to have to improve my game if I am going to be speaking at events in Ottawa where Roland is in the mix.
  • The panel on Pop Culture narratives demonstrated that which looks easy is actually quite hard.  The panelists—Dan Nexon, Charli Carpenter, Dan Drezner, Pat James, and John Cristal—clearly put far more work and thought into their classes and the deployment of pop culture than I ever have.  We had a large crowd (for the last afternoon of the conference) and good questions.
  • I continued my one on one meetings with folks—one of the best parts of any conference.  I used to think that I had no network and was an isolated bit of driftwood floating in the profession.  That is clearly no longer the case.  I am most pleased with the collection of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, ex-colleagues, co-authors and other non-mutually exclusive categories of folks. 
    • Indeed, my dinner plans went from meeting with one prof who used to think that I was standing between him and every journal he submitted stuff into a meal with him and our mutual friends who just got in to town for the Southwest Poli Sci Assn meeting.
  • The night concluded with my roomie using his laptop to access HBO Go so that we could watch Game of Thrones.  It was a heap of fun.  A good start to an interesting season.
Overall, the ISA in SD was a  huge success—for the ISA and for me.  I got to play some ultimate with some friends and strangers, learned much from the few panels I did attend, got some feedback on my work, made plans with old and new co-authors, and re-connected with a heap of folks.  Definitely worth the trip, even if it meant missing the McGill Undergrad poli sci student assn. meeting.  I wanted to go to say goodbye.  Alas, I will have to do it on my blog as classes end.

No comments: