Sunday, August 31, 2014

APSA 2014 Roundup

Blogging has been light, as I have been at the American Political Science Association annual meeting.  It was in Washington, DC this year which was not quite as awful in terms of heat and humidity than usual.  But an arsonist tried to compensate by starting multiple fires halfway through the conference at the main hotel.  Luckily, my addiction to Hilton frequent stayer points meant that I was not in the main hotel this time.

So, of course, we need to spend a moment speculating about the arsonist.  The most likely candidates are a disgruntled Marriott worker or a disgruntled political scientist.  Otherwise, who would do it on Labor Day weekend?  Detectives hate coincidences, at least the fictional ones.  I would guess it was a disgruntled political scientist because the fires didn't really catch, and we, as a breed, are good at theory and not so good at practice.

Other than that excitement, APSA was chock full of meetings with friends from grad school, from previous jobs and from previous conferences.... plus new folks.  I met people who knew me already via my prodigious excessive internet output.  Overall, I had a very good time, ate well, laughed much and learned quite a bit.

I learned, for instance, that a NATO panel on a diverse range of topics will get distracted by the blame-casting for Russia's behavior of late.  My co-authors and I received excellent comments from Nora Bensahel of the Center for New American Security as well as from some of the other panelists, but the audience was primed to focus on NATO-Russia.  Apparently, Russia would have been a swell partner except we crowed too much about winning the Cold War (I don't think the West won so much as the Soviet Union lost... sucks to be on the losing side).

I learned that posters can be more than just ghettos for grad students.  There have been repeated efforts to bring greater legitimacy to posters--where scholars put up a visual representation of their project on a poster and then chat with whomever passes by.  My diaspora project was presented via poster rather than regular panel.  And it was ... delightful.  Sure, I could have used a chair, but we received much useful feedback from the passersby and from one of our neighbors--James Morrow--who is a big name who decided to do a poster to see how APSA should fix the process.

Next stop: Austin in November for a conference on International Security.

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