Our books






Become a Fan

« My Interview on Personal Finance with PhDs | Main | Why Low-Income Students Leave Academic Philosophy (Guest post by Rosa Vince & Anna V. Klieber) »

04/07/2021

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

current grad

As a grad student, I also chose not to participate partly because of the cost -- although one might think that 35 USD is quite minimal, the moment it hit me that for all events I participated in and learned greatly from since the pandemic began I didn't have to pay a dime, I just couldn't help but close the APA's payment processing page.

aphilosopher

(1) I thought the fee was $100 this year, not $190. It was discounted because it was online, no? In any case, I paid $100. Maybe I'm missing something and it was more expensive for others.

(2) I myself have not gotten involved in the APA aside from attending the meetings. Still, I see a lot of calls go out for nominations and all that sort of stuff. I imagine that, like most nonprofits, the various APA officers are always looking for help. For those complaining about the APA, have you tried to get involved?

(3) The comment about free online conferences is like free online music. These things aren't actually free, and you get what you pay for. How much you're willing to pay (in cash money) is how much you think something is worth. Someone has to pay for these things (there are no free lunches), so the end result of nobody being willing to pay for them will be no conferences, or only conferences sponsored by YouTube or Zoom (or whatever), filled with annoying streaming pop-up ads from OUP or whoever is willing to pay to spam a bunch of philosophers. Maybe you think the APA is inefficient (and hence should be able to run their online conference for less than the current cost), but there's no way to run a conference with zero costs. Even a basic professional level Zoom account needed to run a small workshop requires a paid licence that someone pays for. And, as Marcus said, running a smooth massive conference connecting hundreds of people with instant tech support costs a *ton* in billable hours of IT.

Occasional APA-er

The fees are outrageous. I too regretted that I committed to a session, and I too consider never going again.

There's a further issue. The APA clearly no longer represents the profession as a whole. With its increasingly politicized programs and initiatives it moved very far from the average philosopher in North America. At this point I can barely find a sessions in the program that are interesting to me.

not attending anymore

One should compare current fees to what they were ten or fifteen years ago (adjusting for inflation). From what I recall, they've gone up considerably. Maybe the costs of putting on a conference has exceeded inflation at the same rate. I doubt it though.

OP

Hi aphilosopher, OP here ...

Maybe my sub-discipline is not the norm here. Sure, conferences cost money. But all the sub-discipline specific conferences I go to throughout the year are free for participants. They are usually put on at/by a host university, and utilize existing university resources (zoom accounts, etc.) and the labor of professors to put these on. In pre-Covid days, the host university might provide the organizer money (on the order of a few thousand dollars) for refreshments and honoraria, and provide space for the conference. These conferences are, in my experience, always fantastic.

The APA has a number of corporate sponsorships. I do not see what they spend the money on. I am sure I am being unimaginative, but assuming 1000 attendees per conference, we are talking $100,000 at least, as a budget. There are costs to having such high fees—these sessions are often poorly attended. So the work of the presenter is not rewarded with a large audience: everyone there is typically also presenting/chairing/commenting at a different session. Somehow, the APA was able to run conferences until the early 2000s with fees in the tens of dollars——I think I remember paying $5 as a graduate student, when the registration fee for an in-person conference maxed out at $50. Now the highest fees are several hundred dollars for the in-person conference. Have costs increased so much? Is the APA so much better now than it was then? What is the possible justification of this (approximately) ten-fold increase in budget?

Generally, I don't get involved in things I think are going well and worthwhile. I'll happily help to put on conferences, but not one that has a $100+ barrier to entry.

historygrrrl

Compared with other US professional organizations in humanities (AHA, MLA, SCS), conference registration fees for the APA are not out of line.

Still, the APA has become expensive enough that it is not accessible. Pre-Covid, I could easily blow through my entire travel budget by going to the APA. With current budget cuts, available funds will not cover non-member registration or the conjunction of membership and registration. For those in more precarious positions without any travel budget, it's a lot. Especially when you consider that - at least in my state - full-time permanent non-TT folks with families qualify for free heat.

Increasingly, I find specialist conferences to be much better - cheaper, more interesting sessions, and better opportunities for feedback and networking. I generally skip the APA unless (1) I can drive to it, and (2) there are *a lot* of non-overlapping and interesting sessions.

For what it's worth, I tried to get involved in the APA at one point - nominated myself for committees for a good 4 years - but was apparently never cool enough. I also reached out to a committee for help with something that would make things better for faculty on my campus, but nothing ever came of it. I know things have changed a bit, but at this point, I'm just kind of done.

yes

I appreciate that running the divisional meetings is expensive and that there are costs that are not visible to the average attendee, but I feel insulted as a graduate student when I receive emails from the APA asking for donations in addition to the cost of registering for the meeting, buying plane tickets/booking hotels in expensive cities (when the meetings weren’t remote), and paying the membership dues.

I wonder given the state of the profession if it’s fair to have adjuncts and grad students shoulder any of those costs, especially since the APA has not done much (if anything) to mitigate the employment crisis. There are several things they could have done, such as 1) in conjunction with scholarly societies of other disciplines, organized to meaningfully agitate for more secure employment/increased tenure lines in higher ed, 2) supported/made recommendations for/advocated on behalf of departments facing cuts, 3) offered best practices for hiring departments in order to minimize the number of early career philosophers who will fall through the cracks this year thanks to unjust hiring habits (such as offering postdocs to candidates who accept TT jobs in the same year) or 4) created a number of small APA-funded postdocs to be held at any institution for early career philosophers who did not secure any type of employment this year.

Smaller scholarly societies have done one or more of these things. The APA has not done anything beyond running "leadership seminars" and “information sessions”. This is not tantamount to tangibly helping our precarious colleagues or the many grad students who after this year will be forced to leave philosophy for good. It’s particularly useless and callous when some of the panelists that are selected for these sessions are securely employed faculty who have no idea what it’s like to be forced out of the profession and to look for a new career.

My point is that an organization so out of touch with the profession that it shows no interest in tangibly engaging with the crisis it is facing has no business demanding fees or donations from the very people it is failing. If the APA exists merely to run conferences where members of the in-group can rub elbows, a lot of other organizations do that for much cheaper. I bet some of them would even be willing to host a database for inclusive syllabi or whatever too.

Michel

OP: the costs of just running the conferences are probably quite high. There are the hotel contract costs, equipment rental costs, the food/drink minimum, the penalty for not meeting the room minimum, etc. Then there's travel funding and their other initiatives, and a few salaried employees. I wouldn't be surprised if the APA runs pretty close to a loss most years.

Tom2

I was asked to serve on a panel at a recent APA conference. I agreed, and did significant (unpaid) work to that end, including reading another scholar's book (happily, it was a good book) and writing several pages of comments on it. I was then told, a few weeks before the conference, that I would have to pay a ~$200 registration fee to participate, and that, to be able to register, I'd have to join the APA. All in all, it would have cost me over $300 to spend 20 minutes talking about another scholar's work over Zoom. I declined.

I agree that the politicization of the APA is a problem. Also, as far as I can tell, the APA has done nothing to help solve the major issues facing the profession (e.g. the jobs crisis).

early career

@ yes: (and maybe, Marcus, we should have a post on this since it's somewhat off-topic) in terms of your (3), that postdocs shouldn't be offered to those who get TT jobs in the same year, to me it doesn't seem coincidental that those who get NYU Bersoff fellowships, for instance, nearly always also get a plum TT job -- in fact, it even seems like one of the two, the TT hiring department or the NYU Bersoff committee, may also be paying attention to who gets the best jobs, or who gets the Bersoff, to be "sure" that they're making a good investment in the candidate. This is in the interest of the candidate, of course, but also in the interest of the postdoc department (they know that they will be able to make contact with a philosopher joining the profession that they will be able to keep working with going forward) and the TT hiring department (their hire gets extra time to work on their research that they don't have to pay for, gets to network with the most prestigious departments and bring that experience back to the hiring department, and more generally, gets to accrue prestige in the eyes of the profession as an academic star). It's only to the detriment, of course, of all the candidates who get nothing and have to leave the profession -- but they get no vote in the matter. So implementing new rules against allowing this sort of thing seems like the only viable option: either postdoc-granting departments rescind the postdoc if the candidate defers to get a job, or the TT hiring department rescinds the offer rather than allow the candidate to take the postdoc. It would also do a lot to equalize the playing field for everyone else (who look "worse" in comparison by not getting both a postdoc *and* a job in the same year, and don't have the chance to accrue the same extra research time that bolsters their CVs). I've noticed quite a few, even this year, getting both a high-prestige postdoc and a Leiterific job.

QuitAPAyearsAgo

What really grinds my gears is when you are asked to give comments on a paper (10min of talking time, a good amount of prep work) and you still have to pay full fees. I feel like commenters should have a reduced rate. I realize you likely stay for more and go to talks and network and all that but it feels a bit like labor you have to pay for the privilege of doing.

aphilosopher

"Sure, conferences cost money. But all the sub-discipline specific conferences I go to throughout the year are free for participants. They are usually put on at/by a host university, and utilize existing university resources (zoom accounts, etc.) and the labor of professors to put these on."

This is not the case in my subdiscipline(s), which typically charge at least a nominal fee ($35?) for much smaller conferences than what the APA puts on. It's obvious that no conference of the scale of the APA could be put on "for free" --- no university will *donate* the facilities needed to host an in-person or virtual conference for a thousand-plus people. Maybe you don't think there's need in the discipline for a mass APA-style conference, but that's a different issue from the question of whether such a conference should be free.

Also, I want to point out that the "free" conferences you go to aren't really free. In addition to whatever the local university pays for (e.g., a Zoom licence), the organizers pay for the conference in their time. I bring this up because most of us also complain about working too much and being exploited. Well, if you expect free (or virtually free) conferences, you're expecting your friends and colleagues to work even harder to put on that free conference --- to do it without compensation.

As to the APA's expenses themselves, there are at least rudimentary financial documents available to the public. Here are the numbers from 2018 (the last available publicly posted statement), rounded: $447k in meeting dues collected, 289k in expenses to put on the meetings. There's no real fact of the matter about where the surplus ($158k) went, because a dollar is a dollar and just fills up a bank account, but the APA's non-meeting expenses are split pretty evenly between payroll and their other services (grants, prizes, etc.). This means that (if 2018 is representative), (1) at the very best, the APA could only cut the current meeting cost a third, and (2) doing so would mean either firing staff or cutting other programs by a similar amount.

Now, I'm not arguing that there APA can't do better. That's not my takeaway from these numbers. My point is that there's nothing about the APAs expenses which suggest that anyone could run similar quality meetings with a sub-$100 registration fee.

I guess my point is this: It's one thing to have a realistic discussion about the cost of the APA meetings and ways they can improve, but it's another thing to just air grievances and declare that the APA is worthless and all conferences should be free. I myself am a very preciously employed philosopher, who's been driven from the discipline in the past, in a fairly vulnerable financial situation with plenty of other things too making my life a nervous wreck. For whatever it's worth, I feel the APA has been responsive to situations like mine, and I appreciated the effort that went into reducing my membership fee this past year and the reduced registration I got for the Eastern meeting.

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/collection/D631A61E-EE13-466F-A57C-144F11F96602/American_Philosophical_FINAL.pdf

aphilosopher

Tom2 and QuitAPAyearsAgo: I don't understand how any professional philosopher could not know, ahead of time before accepting a request to participate on the APA program, that they would still be expected to pay the full registration fee. Isn't this common knowledge in the discipline?

Let's say the APA did give those on the program a discount. The actual expenses of the meeting don't go down, so the registration fee for everyone else would go up. I'm guessing most people who attend the meeting are on the program in some form, so the net effect would be that there's basically nobody left to pay the expenses of the meeting.

This last point raises another issue: The APA meetings aren't profit-making. None of this is. It's a nonprofit, doing work with no market value (the general public isn't paying to hear any APA talks). The APA does not, and cannot, financially compensate those on the program because the work they do isn't generating a profit to be shared.

APA meetings a community affair. The registration fee you're willing to pay reflects what you're willing to pay to gain access to the community. If you don't see the APA meetings as having any value to you (and hence won't pay a registration fee for them), that's fine, but asking that the APA compensate you for your participation misunderstands what these are.

Again, I'm all for having a serious discussion about whether the APA is efficient, fair, and does a good job representing and lobbying for our discipline. I agree that it's over politicized and only represents the far left. But most of these complaints about the fee structure and (lack of) compensation fundamentally misunderstand the economics and nature of the APA meetings.

GearsAgain

@aphilosopher
Many of your points are good ones and important to keep in mind. Just on the fees for someone giving comments, this comes up in my sphere every single year. I found myself caught out and surprised I had to pay years ago. The most recent iteration was a friend working in the EU shocked to be asked to join up and pay to zoom in to give short comments. Every year someone pops up either in my real world personal life or social media reporting this. It just isn’t common knowledge. I’m not sure what invites look like at this point - maybe there are just lazy readers missing a clear message. That’s very possible and if so, shame on me and others for being annoyed for just missing clear messaging. And there are without question bigger and better issues to put energy into but I think there is nontrivial anecdotal evidence that this could be made clearer. And that’s to say nothing about whether one should have to become a member to give short comments and pay registration fees. The former is especially annoying (and pretty clearly nuts if someone live in another country!). It just comes off as very WTF. And I’ll be the first to admit that some of me being annoyed by this is the generated by the more general feeling that the APA poorly represents the discipline.

aphilosopher

GearsAgain: That's all fair enough. Given that this obviously *is* a problem, the APA (if they aren't already) should be more clearly indicating the requirements in invitations.

In my (low ranked) American graduate department, you just learned about these things through osmosis. Basically all the graduate students in the program were aiming to go to the APA, so you quickly figured out how it worked. Of course, if you're in the EU and have never attended the APA before, this wouldn't be the case. I suspect that the people organizing this stuff, like me, have known about the meeting structure since their first year in grad school and just assume everyone does.

I know the Mind/AS joint session asks that those on the program join one of the two organizations. This is clearly marked on their website, but it's an example of other major professional organizations asking for people to join to attend their meeting. (The APA doesn't require you to join to attend, they just charge you more if you don't.) The specialist organizations with which I'm familiar here in the US similarly ask for attendees to join the organization.

Tom2

aphilosopher,

You are right that the Mind Association / AS requires membership in order to participate in its conference, just like the APA does. The cost of joining the AS is about $7. Similarly, I believe that you have to join the Society for Exact Philosophy if you want to participate in its conference. This costs $5.

Joining the APA costs, for many of us, hundreds of dollars. Your example illustrates the problem.

The MA/AS Joint Session is, like the APA, fully online this year. Unlike the APA, it is free to participate, for everyone.

OP

aphilosopher,

I am not saying that one should run a hotel conference for free. Clearly that's impossible. I wonder what are the benefits of coordinating such a large (in-person or online) conference, with the extra costs that incurs and the exorbitant fees that they charge as a result. I am saying that we don't need hotel conferences, that they are exclusive and ridiculously expensive, and that there are better (and yes, free) conferences going on. You don't "get what you pay for" with the APA. The free conferences I've gone to have always been better than the APA. The fact that people work hard to make those conferences happen does not mean that they are not in fact free. It just means that everyone should pitch in to make these things happen, so as not to be a freeloader.

If you are someone who typically organizes sessions for the APA, maybe rethink it. Just organize a session, *not* at the APA. You'll have a better turnout, and you will be saving the participants and attendees hundreds of dollars. It's difficult to see how it would be significantly less work to put it on at the APA. In person, you'd have to reserve the space. Online, you have to send out a link and advertise. It's really not that much work. I've organized talks and sessions, and I don't expect my colleagues to do the work. Frequently I am the one doing the work.

You will benefit much more from connections you make at smaller conferences than you will from a line on the CV that says 'APA'. I don't know why the APA is sacrosanct. Someone should say it: our professional organization stinks. It's expensive, increasingly ideological, it throws up barriers to equitable collaboration, and we should all generally move away from it and pursue other types of conferences, networking, and collaboration.

aphilosopher

@OP, as you said in the original post, you're not asking questions, but making a plea. Since I've gotten into conversation about it, I'll just say I'm not convinced. I agree with many of your points, although I think you're over weighing them or exaggerating, plus ignoring the benefits. At the end of the day, we all have to make a decision: Will we pay the membership and meeting fees? I still think that, on the whole, it's worth it.

Assistant Professor

Point very well taken that overall conferences are expensive, that return on investment may often feel minimal (depending on what your goals/needs are of the conference and who is paying for it - you or your institution) and that online models offer examples of how to run efficient and effective conferences without the travel costs (venue fees, but also individual travel, etc.). I think Marcus is right that there is an initial start up cost to moving online well (as opposed to haphazardly) and based on the APA meeting I participated in this year virtually, I thought it was run well ($100 registration if already a member of the APA, is my recollection). I know many people want to go back to in person things, but will say two things I appreciated about the conference being online other than the lower overall cost of time and money or carbon footprint. 1) I had more collaborative, less hierarchical conversations among the participants in the session. Everyone's name is on their Zoom profile so we could all call each other by first name rather than have that insider/outsider dynamic where a bunch of folks know each other and have sort of an insider discussion during Q&A 2) because we were at computers I had a lot of additional email back and forth with session participants and was able to keep a conversation going in a more specific, personal, and productive way than I would have ever done in person. I thought it retained all the best parts of a conference without the social awkwardness, or extra cost.

That said, it is right to push for scholarships, continued accessibility, and sensitivity to some of us having an institutional funding source for conferences and those of us who have that might be the ones to directly benefit from conferencing the least. We can encourage the APA to continue to channel funds to under-funded scholars however conferences are held in the future.

Evan

I am very sympathetic to the frustration that the APA hosts conferences at hotels. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

A lot of philosophy professors come from upper middle class backgrounds. If you know anything about these kinds of people, then you’d know they like to keep things fancy (e.g., cocktail parties, fancy/expensive accommodations (hotels), etc).

It’s their culture and way of life. I wouldn’t be surprised if such a way of life and cultural biases made their way to the APA's members and organizers. Hotel conferences are a reflection of the taste of the APA in general.

Unless there is more funding that allows APA conferences to be very cheap or free, I suspect that high hotel conference fees aren’t going away anytime soon. This phenomenon is also consistent with the prestige issue people have been talking about. It is what it is.

I could be wrong of course. But since a lot of us don’t actually know the rationale of why they host conferences at hotels, I can only infer based on other factors such as members’ economic position and class.

OP

Ok aphilosopher, fair enough....

I suppose my question was “why are we doing this?” And yes, of course I’m already mostly convinced that there is not any sufficiently good reason. If I organize an event I don’t want it to be the case that only people who are financially well-off or whose employment situation is secure and well-funded can attend. I noticed that these events were very poorly attended this year—in contrast to another online conference I attended recently, which had 5x the attendees or so, and a much more friendly and collaborative atmosphere.

And while scholarships are nice, a lot of the APA “financial assistance” has been labor-intensive. Like “we’ll give you a discount if you work the desk” etc. And justifying one’s poverty constantly is exhausting. Moreover, scholarships assume that $300 or so is fine for most people, and only a burden to a few. That seems less and less true as time goes on. Precarity, underemployment, and low income in high cost of living areas is normal for philosophers. We differ from psychologists in that psychologists are well-paid and get jobs outside of academia. It’s totally irrelevant that their fees are as high as ours.

I suppose what I’m saying is that this should be so mind-numbingly obvious to anyone whose thought about it for 5 minutes, and yet the APA soldiers on. Perhaps one day we can put an end to this hotel-conference nonsense.

aphilosopher

"If I organize an event I don’t want it to be the case that only people who are financially well-off or whose employment situation is secure and well-funded can attend."

I'm sure everyone involved in the APA would agree with you, but we live in an imperfect world. There are advantages to large national meetings and lots of competing interests. Everything is a give-and-take and process of negotiating. If you walk away, you no longer can play any role in that negotiating process.

For what it's worth, the sort of small, free conferences you mention have their own downfalls. As I said, they aren't really "free" (despite what you said) --- they are paid for either by direct university subsidy, or (more importantly) by donated time. If "justifying one's poverty constantly" is exhausting, doing unpaid menial and administrative labor is also exhausting.

More importantly, from a meritocracy and social-justice perspective, small conferences are more equitable in their cost, but they are almost all more exclusionary in virtue of their (1) size, and (2) insider organization. That is, if only 8 people (or whatever) are speaking, then most people won't get to be involved (vs the hundreds that speak at the APA). And, worse, to attract any audience at all, you need to fill at least half of those spots with famous people. So, what ends up happening for virtually all small workshops is that the speakers are either famous people, or people with connections to the organizers or those famous people.

Let me put it this way. Let's say you and your impoverished friends, outside the "cool club" of elite academic philosophy with large travel budgets and all that, want to hold a free online workshop. Great! But, basically nobody will attend, because you lack the reputations to draw a crowd. Also, you help out (at best) relatively few people: the 6 or 8 or dozen or whatever who you can give a slot too.

Or, maybe you and the people at these conferences you have in mind aren't totally on the fringes of philosophy. Maybe you all have a reputation. In that case, perhaps these great workshops you have in mind are exclusionary in ways you didn't even realize: e.g., they're essentially just meetups for you and your well-positioned friends, without affording any real opportunities for outsiders. I mean, I'm sure you'd disagree, but it's in your self-interest to not see your own exclusionary practices, so, you shouldn't trust your own perception of your own events. I know I've certainly attended plenty of small free workshops that felt like old friends chatting with me on the outside.

Although it's not perfect, I am completely sure that (a) the APA meetings are *more* meritorious than the vast majority of small workshops, and (b) the APA meetings offer many, many more opportunities in terms of speaking slots.

So, again, imperfect world: There are no obviously best solutions without their own faults. I'm not saying the sort of small conferences you mention are bad. I'm just pointing out that they have their faults too. I think there's a role to play in philosophy for all these meetings.

OP

Man, aphilosopher. It sounds like your subdiscipline is pretty lame.

I don't know what to tell you. In my subfield, whenever nobodies like me organize an event or conference, there are wonderful, well-known speakers who agree to give talks or keynotes, the program is fantastic, a mix of known folks and unknown but interesting newbies who get in on the merits of their papers or abstracts. There's an equitable exchange of ideas, and we are grateful to the university for hosting, our host for organizing, and we agree to do it again soon with a different organizer.

Also the free conferences cost $0. They are free. I've never paid to attend a conference apart from the APA. People (typically well-situated) voluntarily organize them. Universities voluntarily host and sponsor them. Graduate students and adjuncts and other people attend entirely FOR FREE. This is what 'free' means. If I say 'they are giving away free t-shirts on the corner!' and you roll your eyes and say 'those aren't free, *someone* paid for them', I think you've just forgotten how we use the word free.

Marcus Arvan

Hi OP: I am a member of about 3 or 4 different subdisciplines, and (aside from the Cocoon conference I used to run) I have *never* heard of free conferences. Virtually every conference that I have ever been to has had significant registration fees. Maybe you're in a part of the world where things are different, I don't know: but I've been to something like 40+ conferences in the US, and every single one of them had significant registration fees. (Also, as an aside, let's please stay away from calling subfields 'lame', even if it's just meant as a wry observation - this is supposed to be a supportive rather than snarky place!).

OP

Okay. Maybe the area I work in is just particularly good about this. Aphilosopher’s experiences at smaller conferences is just so out of keeping with my own, and other people I know who work in areas similar to mine (ie history). I don’t ever recall paying anything to attend a conference, and they are always very good. So I took aphilosopher to be exaggerating/making things up and got snarky as a result.

But it’s totally possible that history is just better about these sorts of things, so sorry for getting snarky. Still, it’s worth noting that there are people out there who make this work on an alternative model, so I really think the hotel conference model is dead, and what we see happening now is just its decaying corpse.

aphilosopher

@OP: What you just said is consistent with what I said. You inviting well-known speakers to your conferences (so as to draw a crowd) fills up speaking spots. The net result is that these workshops don't charge attendees a fee, but they also don't create many opportunities for up-and-coming people to present. So, while these workshops have a place, they perpetuate "cool kid" clubs and inner circles of friends, whereas the APA at least attempts to afford a respectable platform to a wide range of philosophers (via blind refereeing).

Anyway, like Tom2 above, you don't seem interested in considering any other side to these issues. You are ignoring most of my points, misconstruing the few points you engage, and conceding nothing.

OP

Neither of us seems particularly open ... It's not like you are conceding anything. Besides, I should only concede something if I'm wrong. Clearly it is *you* who are wrong. :)

You are misunderstanding me. Almost every single conference I go to has one or two keynotes. The remainder of papers or abstracts are blind refereed, so you end up with a conference of about a dozen peer-reviewed things and a keynote or two. I take this to be the typical structure of a conference generally, right? I've attended one all-fancy-names workshop before, and you are right—there might be a nice exchange of ideas, but there is no sense in which they advance the careers of anyone not already established. I'm generally not a fan of those, for reasons you suggest.

One thing that I do get annoyed by at these conferences is when those fancy keynotes do not go to the talks by the rest of us. I'd say this happens about half the time, I've noticed it increasing in frequency. It's super snobby and gross, and makes me respect those people less. There should be strong norms in favor of keynotes going to lots of talks.

aphilosopher

@OP: If you look above, you'll see I have conceded that the APA could be more efficient (find a way to lower fees) and is too politicized (especially given its aims of representing the whole discipline). As I look above (and at your latest post), I see you've conceded more yourself, so my apologies.

What I've disagreed with is the idea that there's no place or need for an organization like the APA or the meetings it runs. It's fine if you think the end pro-con calculation says to not pay for APA dues and just use the small research/workshop model instead, but I hope you'd at least agree that there's some "pros" in the APA model and some "cons" in the small workshop model.

"Almost every single conference I go to has one or two keynotes. The remainder of papers or abstracts are blind refereed, so you end up with a conference of about a dozen peer-reviewed things and a keynote or two. I take this to be the typical structure of a conference generally, right?"

That's certainly one form I've seen done and participated in. Another, that I've seen equally often, is that the workshop be entirely 8-12 invited participants, or 6-8 invited with 1-3 open slots for submission, or ... [other permutations]. It sounds like we actually agree on a lot, and disagree over some details. I guess at the end of the day I'm still skeptical that these small conferences (even on the keynote/ dozen-open-slot model) really suffice on their own, but that seems to be our point of disagreement all along.

Anyway, my apologies for the heated discussion. The internet is terrible. Where this a physical conference with happy hour (big or small), I'm sure we'd get along over a beer!

OP

The internet *is* terrible! And beer is good! We agree! :) Sorry for getting a little nutty. At the end of the day, no one's forcing me to go to the APA.

historygrrrl

@OP: My experiences with smaller conferences have been just like yours! Free conferences, sometimes with a fancy keynote, open for free to whomever shows up.

In many cases, there's also a free fancy dinner for presenters/commentators, and a couple of times - as a complete nobody that got in on blind review - the conference paid for the hotel. I even got a free T-shirt once (not kidding.)

It makes sense if you're a fellow historian - we are pretty rad, right? :)

OP

Yes!! History is the best!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory

Cocoon Job-Market Mentoring Program

Categories