This is a giant inter-disciplinary conference with thousands of attendees coming from around the world. I spoke with participants who teach on three continents. Among the other attendees was Dr. Mary Rose Kubal from our Political Science Department, whom I did not see. She was not the most famous person to go to the conference. The granting of a visa to attend the conference to Raúl Castro’s daughter, who is a vigorous supporter of gay rights, produced strong protests from elements in the Cuban-American community. While I did not see her either, her presence may help explain the armed guards that were scattered around the hotel where the conference was held.
The principal activity at these conferences is the many panels; the program lists 999. The panels usually have presentations by three to five scholars on a specific subject with a commentary by another scholar. This is usually followed by questions from the audience. This allows attendees to hear some of the latest scholarship. Some of the panels were excellent and several were, as they say, not ready for prime time.
One of the most interesting parts of the congress is the book exhibit. Scholarly publishers show their latest publications and authors try to peddle future publications. It is fun to see what has been published in the last few years. It is also the best place to run into people that you have not seen in years.
The conference is also a good place to catch up with old friends. For example, the first night I and two friends from graduate school went over to Berkeley to have dinner with our professor.
Since returning from California, I have submitted one article for publication. One down and two more to go, if I am going to meet my schedule of writing for the summer.