#ISA2017: Drive-by edition


I’m in Baltimore for the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, a four-day respite from the drudgery of spring break research conference when those of us who can afford to travel the sharpest minds in my profession come  together when hotel costs are cheap in the dead of winter to share their latest work.

If you must, you can follow the fun on Twitter. Just search for #ISA2017 and let the hilarity ensue.

Since I’ve been here all of four hours now, it’s time to post some initial thoughts and give a look at the week ahead:

Women will be woefully underrepresented on virtually every panel over the next four days. Despite the fact that women know stuff too.

If you walk far enough from the conference hotels, you can drink fairly priced Irish whiskey at a quiet bar without having to overhear conversations about: 1) the horrible job market: 2) pompous senior scholars who suck all the oxygen out of panel presentations; 3) pompous newly minted PhDs who do the same; 4) insecure grad students asking each other how they think it went; 5) any mention of post-modern anything.

You will inevitably see, in the first 15 minutes of walking around the conference, most of the friends you wanted to see anyway, making the next three days a little anticlimactic.

My professional obligations begin this evening with drinking. No, really. Social get-togethers and networking are a critical part of the conference experience. That we can’t expense.

My real work starts at 8:15 tomorrow morning when I get to reprise my role as Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad in a simulation of negotiations to try to resolve the Syrian civil war. News flash: I’ve not been all that interested in a negotiated settlement. That won’t change tomorrow.

During the online part of the simulation I was mean to my friend who got stuck playing Donald Trump. I intend to be mean again tomorrow.

Afterwards, in the debriefing panel, I get to explain why I was such a dick.

Later in the day I get to play senior scholar and give the kind of research presentation I always hated listening to at earlier stages in my career: lots of big ideas without a lot behind them. Yet. The good news is that my co-author is way smarter than me, so the project might have real legs.

In the evening I’m getting an award for this blog. Which means from here on out I will always refer to myself as an award-winning blogger, and this blog as an award-winning blog. You’ve been warned.

Friday I get to meet with more smart people and try to get them to let me free-ride on research projects that I wouldn’t be able to do by myself. I will contribute good ideas …

Saturday I get to present yet another research project, this one with actual data, but which made me depressed in the process of writing since I was reading foreign policy speeches made by actually literate presidents.

And with that, the annual dip into the glamorous world of the annual conference will come to an end, and each of us will return to our respective campuses to resume the daily work of trying to get 19-year-olds to care about international affairs.