I had originally intended to blog from the American Anthropological Association meetings in Philadelphia, but that didn’t happen for various reasons. Herewith a few preliminary reflections:
- Minor annoyance: Willy accompanied me to the meetings, and attended my and other sessions with no problem. However, when she tried to enter the publishers’ area she was stopped at the door because she didn’t have an ID badge. When I tried to take her in with me, they still wouldn’t let her enter. WTF? She might have bought a book from somebody, for Jebus’s sake.
- Slightly less minor annoyance: We had to pay extra for internet service, and it wasn’t very reliable at that. But it seems to me that AAA ought to either hold its meetings in a place that provides internet at no extra charge, or include internet access in the registration fee. I mean, come on, it’s 2009, virtually everybody at the meetings had a computer and had reason to use it, as I did in keeping in touch with my university email, students’ activities on Blackboard, and so on.
- Major annoyance: Only two sessions out of I don't know how many hundreds had “Caribbean” listed in the program topic index.
- Another major annoyance: Not finding much of anything with a Caribbean theme, I searched the program for interesting sessions to attend and found.... almost nothing! And I’m a pretty eclectic dude. To be fair, I only had Friday afternoon, Saturday, and part of Sunday to work with, and there were a couple of sessions I would have gone to earlier in the week, but again, c’mon. I did attend an interesting session on Darwin and anthropology, which included Nina Jablonski doing her very smooth rap on the evolution of skin color. And I went to the memorial gathering for Dell Hymes; a moving experience, with a number of his former students and colleagues, as well as his wife Virginia, sharing memories and stories. Of course, maybe it’s just me, but so many session titles seem to be written in some kind of Doublespeak that’s, to me, impenetrable and off-putting.
- I definitely prefer the meetings I usually go to, like the Society for Caribbean Linguistics and the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. Smaller, more focused, more opportunities for interaction and feedback. I wonder whether smaller section meetings (Society for Linguistic Anthropology, etc.) wouldn’t be more rewarding. Problem is, I like the opportunity to range outside my normal comfort zone from time to time.
Willy and I both did enjoy a couple of days in the Big City, and we practically lived on Philly cheese-steaks from the Reading Terminal Market, right next door to the hotel.