Monday, 22 April 2013

Day 129: Gender politics, philosophy, polling and pumpkin whoopee pie.

Day 129 (13 Apr) is Saturday, my presentation is done so it's time to focus on the other panels over the next day and a half. Overnight, I've had another go at deciding which panels I want to many to choose from, not helped by the fact that my teaching, research and interests range over topics as diverse as psephology, women in politics, East Asian politics and security, political philosophy, international relations theory, anything to do with politics really...which is why it is really difficult to choose. 

Chicago skyline, at 6.12am
I start the day with a look out the window, I love the Chicago skyline and the view out my window, on the 17th floor is a great one...especially at 6.12am. The architecture in Chicago is truly something to marvel about. 

Anyway, I have decided, given all the choices, to head to the 8.30 panel on Inequality, Immigration and Gender in Japan. If you stay within a 'broad theme', you begin to bump into people you've met at other sessions and so conversations can continue. This is one of the good things about conferences. 

I spent a bit of time thereafter at a political philosophy 'roundtable' on Leo Strauss and also took some time out to look at the publishers' stands for the latest books and journals, and partake in the coffee stand offerings. The masses of books available served as a reminder of how little time we get to read these days and just how enormous our task is to stay on top of our discipline. In the culture of work intensification that is the modern university, we really are missing out on being able to do very interesting things, and ultimately the students pay the price. In the rush to account for every last fullstop, we are truly losing sight of bigger things.

Star panel, at 6.12pm
The first session after lunch was one on history and memory in Japan's foreign relations, a topic I had lectured on just the week before. Fumiko Sasaki who had been on my panel the day before was presenting another paper here and it was interesting to hear perspectives on Korea and Japan relations from different presenters. For the mid-afternoon session, I spoilt myself with another panel listening to philosophers discuss Rawls and Kant. 

The final session of the day had two competing 'star panels', a really tough choice. One was a roundtable on the 2012 election featuring 'names' in Nate Silver, Ezra Klein and former Brisbane lad and now Stanford professor, Simon Jackman. Not surprisingly the room was full of people interested both in the topic but also a bit of the 'star' factor. Some interesting points on polling which I will address over on the other blog in the next day or two. 

The other panel I didn't make (and many were annoyed the two were scheduled at the same time) addressed the passing of legislation recently in Congress which will make funding for political science research very difficult...and here in Australia we need to be aware of these trends, since we tend to pick up on them a little way down the track. 

End of a long day, I tried a 'pumpkin whoopee pie', because I am committed to trying local cuisine, of course...

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