Tuesday, September 12, 2006

we will fight to the end! (or ten years, as you can't very well expect us to stay away from chicago forever)

I was talking with a friend about New Orleans the other night, and said something I've said to other people: the American Sociological Association should hold its annual meetings in New Orleans at the first opportunity. It's arguably the most sociologically interesting city now, and "arguably" only because there is always Las Vegas (but it isn't like ASA is ever going show its official face there).

But then I thought of something I hadn't before: is it even possible for ASA to meet in New Orleans?

The reason I wondered is that I know the anthropologists have a rule about not holding their annual meetings in states that have sodomy laws. The rule is still in force and excludes Louisiana even though Lawrence v. Texas effectively rendered sodomy laws inert nationwide. I know, this is not the same as the law being repealed, but some states on anthropology's list as sufficiently sodomy friendly to host meetings are places in which the law remains on the books but was nullified by state court decisions (i.e., Massachusetts). (The previous two sentences are all my understanding of the situation, for which I welcome correction in whatever ways it's wrong.)

Interestingly, anthropology also won't meet in Illinois, in protest of the almost-absurdly offensive mascot Chief Illiniwek. In that regard, their resolution shows less resolution, saying:
AAA will cease scheduling Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association in the State of Illinois until such time as the administration and trustees of the University of Illinois... replace their "Chief Illiniwek" mascot with one that does not promote inaccurate, anachronistic and damaging stereotypes of Native American people... If this has not happened in ten years AAA will revisit our position.
I presume this is in recognition of the fact that the sodomy rule mostly keeps the organization from meeting in places where academics wouldn't be inclined to hold national meetings anyway (like Boise and Oklahoma City and Birmingham and Kansas City). But it would be harder to stay away from Chicago forever, especially if there is the idea that the national meetings should be in the Midwest now and then.

Anyway, so far as I can tell from online sources, sociology has historically had all kinds of political considerations influence its choice of meeting sites, but it doesn't have specific hard rules like anthropology does. So: New Orleans! I will personally sponsor some kind of blogging-and-beignets event.

Postscript: I used to have a crazy friend who kept up this inexplicable friendship with someone even crazier than either of us, in part because I think it made her feel more sane/together/normal to be close witness to this walking psychological disaster. If you are a sociologist who sometimes feels despairing about certain trends in the discipline, start trolling around anthropology professional organization websites and look at some of the debates and such that go on there. I mean, I don't want to equate various online manifestations with whatever the larger intellectual and institutional reality might be, but the online disciplinary-presentation-of-self gives the impression of an enterprise both moribund and hellbent on self-evisceration. Of course, there's a certain prominent sociologist who regularly holds up anthropology as his dream for sociology's future, which seems to me like a lemming watching the lemming in front of him plunge off a cliff and saying, "Dude, wait up!"*

* Yes, I know lemmings don't really do mass suicide. I also know they don't really talk.

31 comments:

Lars said...

The Southern Sociological Association had their meetings in New Orleans this year. But, given that SSS has recently been a haven for public sociologists, maybe we don't want to follow their lead (kinda like lemmings?).

dorotha said...

Having been to New Orleans over Labor Day weekend, I wonder where all of those sociologists would stay. Also, would mood altering drugs be made available?

brady said...

I've been saying this since the American Library Association announced they were going ahead with their Nola conference this past summer or thereabouts. Logistically, I would think it can be done, since the touristy parts didn't get destroyed. As much.

Lars said...

the ALA is way bigger than ASA as well.

Anonymous said...

A serious question for a serious sociologist: why has gas price fallen to $2.05 a gallon in Iowa?

jeremy said...

Is this the price of the gas that gets Iowa's special extra ethanol subsidy?

Madison could host ASA (and would certainly do it better than Anaheim), so I think N.O. even presently could. ASA isn't that large.

Anonymous said...

does the AAA have a counterpart to ASA's 'Animals and Society' or 'Astrosociology' movements?

Anonymous said...

Dunno. It's listed as regular gas: eg Citgo selling in Oskaloosa for $2.03 (it keeps going down!) this afternoon.
Was gas much cheaper in Manson when you were there?

dorotha said...

still, what about mood elevators? NOLA is kinda depressing. not that sociologists should shy away from depressing things, it is just that, given the sociologists i know, i think that ASA in NOLA might call for, at the very least, free liquor.

of course, ASA in madison might also require alcohol. living here sure seems to.

Anonymous said...

ASA should definitely be held in New Orleans, and it's a shame this hasn't already been in the works.
After Hurricane Katrina the (apparently more socially conscious and efficacious) APA rescheduled their next meeting for New Orleans...it was last month. If NO can handle the APA they can easily handle the ASA meetings.

dorotha said...

fine, go. what do i care? maybe you could send extra money, not just to the french quarter.

Anonymous said...

Madison could not host ASA. There just isn't the space. Where, and it what hotels, in Madison would one put 3000+ sociologists?

SWS is in New Orleans this year.

jeremy said...

Madison could host it downtown. If Madison can accommodate football games, it can accommodate ASA. And there would certainly be way more and way better restaurants in walking distance either than when ASA was in Anaheim or the gerontology meetings I attended last year in Anaheim. It's only due to member snobbery that ASA won't even consider a place like Madison (these days; Madison did host like the 2nd ASA meetings).

islander said...

Milwaukee would be a great ASA site. Sadly, MKE's offerings as a city and its potential as a rich research city are generally unrecognized.

islander said...

research site, I meant research site.

tina said...

I would LOVE to see a Madison ASA.

This calls for a "Jeremy Freese for ASA President" campaign.

Shall we?

Kim said...

To be fair, I think the ASA council chooses sites based *partly* on their perceptions of how easy & expensive it would be for the "average" ASA member to fly into and out of the local airport. Or at least, that's the explanation I received for why ASA meetings haven't been in Seattle or Vancouver.

This introduces several potential sources of error, not the least of which is that the relative costs of airline tickets just aren't that easy to predict (anymore): fer instance, as of a few minutes ago, I could buy a RT ticket from SFO-Madison for $317, but a RT ticket from SFO-ORD for the same dates (Oct 19-23, in case anyone cares) would be $450+.

jeremy said...

I couldn't win. However, a combined Tina / Jeremy collaborative candidacy probably would win. Sure, co-presidential-candidacies may be against the by-laws, but that would make us an all the more appealing candidate. We need a 100 ASA members to sign a petition and we're on the ballot. We could do a skit as our presidential address, or a two-part hip-hopera.

Anonymous said...

IMO ASA should actually do something about a social problem, like the reconstriction of NO. It's an embarassment that several other academic organizations have placed a higher priority on this than ASA, the group of professionals that should have been first mover given most of their members' moral principles. If we have to tolerate all this vacuous public sociology prattle, we should at least get something of social value from our professional association.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what happens when ASA has to choose between fulfilling its financial commitments (you do know that they had to promise to return to San Francisco in order to move the meetings to Montréal, right?) and its commitment to avoiding cities with labor disputes. I wonder how many people actually read the ASA Council minutes.

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope ASA schedules NO soon. They've failed to achieve what several other professional associations have managed (i.e. schedule NO on relatively short notice), so we'll just hope that this gets taken care of. Or perhaps we should agitate...

jeremy said...

I was looking at ASA Council minutes from 2005 (2006 isn't up yet), and it looked like ASA was booked through 2014 (!). This includes freaking Atlanta again in 2010, with the statement that Atlanta is the "only viable option" in the South because of hurricane season.

Anonymous said...

I don't think 2012 is booked yet.

2007 NYC
2008 Boston
2009 San Francisco
2010 Atlanta
2011 Chicago
2012
2013 San Francisco
2014 Chicago

Anonymous said...

I bet it's because of their arrangement with Hilton.

tina said...

You know I am always up for a good hip-hopera.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy says:

"It's only due to member snobbery that ASA won't even consider a place like Madison"

I'm all behind this freesian (and the history books will drop the 'e') movement to get ASA to visit more intersting places, but please tell me you are joking! Snobbery? Huh? Jeremy, you do know that people go to conferences for all sorts of reasons and, in the conference biz, "attractiveness of location" is draw number one. Do you really think that snobbery is the reason you wouldn't get more than a thousand or two at your Madison ASA meetings? Heck, while we are at it, let me put Harrisburg PA in the hat for 2010! Same difference.

Anonymous said...

yeah, let's just make ASA a tour of Big 10 towns.

jeremy said...

If attractiveness of location is number one, why are we going to Atlanta in August twice in seven years?

I think it's also sort of silly to imagine that location would result in a 50+% drop in ASA attendance, unless it was for political boycott reasons or somewhere genuinely remote/expensive. If you want, we could have it in Madison but pretend it was in Chicago, and the commute from the airport would be only slightly more unpleasant than what I had to deal with at ASA Anaheim.

dorotha said...

sorry, but i think jeremy is right about the snobbery thing. madison doesn't totally suck as a place to visit. i've had friends stay with me, and they've quite enjoyed things. everyone could make a trip to ella's deli and get tickets to michael feldman's whadaya know.

anyway, in case people thought that my earlier comment at 4:46pm was in favor of getting ASA to come to madison, it wasn't. i was just saying that i think it requires vast amounts of alcohol to live here. i don't know how much alcohol people would need if they were just visiting.

Anonymous said...

Many ASA participants need copious amounts of alcohol to get through the meetings anyway. So Madison would be just fine, as long as the alcohol is accessible.

Anonymous said...

jeremy says:

"If attractiveness of location is number one, why are we going to Atlanta in August twice in seven years?"

Agreed, but its not an "objective" rating of attractiveness that the conventioneers have in mind. Lots of sociologists live in college towns. The chance to write off a trip to bigcity is an "attraction," while the idea of leaving collegetown for...collegetown at the height of vacation season is not. LOTS of people a vacation out of ASAs, using it as a jumping off point for family trips and such. While Madison certainly has its charms, "vacation" is not the first thing it calls to mind.

My point was that this can hardly be called "snobbery." Its just the convention business. Why do you think Montreal was such a hit? Heightened interest in what was going on in the meetings or attractive location?