I'm heading off early tomorrow morning for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Unlike many of my peers, I quite enjoy APSA. That's probably because I rarely attend panels and spend most of my time hanging out with my friends and meeting new people. Which is a terrible model for you hardworking, dedicated, up and coming grad students. Ignore what I do, and instead do what I say: Attend every panel! Listen carefully to every word uttered on the panel on "agglomeration processes in international politics" and the roundtable on "what has comparative politics accomplished? a conversation among leading scholars", and take copious notes, because it will be on your comprehensive exams! The 8:00 AM panels are the most important ones to attend - the senior scholars on those panels will notice you in the sparse audience, and may invite you to co-author a paper! Approach senior faculty whenever you recognized the names on the name tag, because people love having their conversations interrupted! If you can't manage that, then at least gaze enviously at the senior scholars having what must be scintillating, theoretically sophisticated discussions about the finer points of constructivist theory (actually, they're trying to figure out where to get a decent meal in Philadelphia, but don't let reality intrude on the illusion....). And above all, don't take up space at the bar: beer is bad for you and will stunt your growth. If that advice doesn't work for you, then be sure to consult Kieran Healy and Dan Drezner's much better advice.
As some of you may know, I was this year's section chief for Division 12 Comparative Politics of Developing Countries. I was going to write up some reflections on being section chief, but I find I have little to add to Henry Farrell's reflections on being a section organizer posted last year. Short version: it's a huge amount of work, without nearly the power or rewards which you'd expect. I'd just ask anyone upset that their papers or panels didn't get accepted by my division to go easy on me. As Henry pointed out, there's remarkably little room for the section chief to impose his or her own preferences on the division - though I'd like to think that I did organize some creative and interesting panels from individually submitted papers. Because of the sheer volume of submissions, and the allocation rules, you have to turn down a lot of perfectly good papers and panels - I had to reject hundreds of individual papers and dozens of pre-organized panels. Many of those deserved to be rejected, but there were quite a few perfectly good proposals for which there just wasn't room. And then you see really great-looking panels fall apart as people withdraw for various reasons, and you kick yourself over the panels and papers you had to pass up to make room for them. Anyway, I think that I put together a pretty good Division, and I'm even going to try to attend a few of the panels to see how they turned out.
Henry has already posted his panel picks, so I thought I would do the same (keeping in mind that I don't get there until Thursday afternoon). Here's where you might find me, if the local coffee shops and/or bars are aardvark-free:
12-10 Social and Political Islamism
David Patel, "Concealing to reveal: the changing informational role of Islamic dress"; Drew Linzer and Lisa Blaydes, "The political economy of women's support for fundamentalist Islam"; Quinn Mecham, "The strategic transformation of Islamist parties"; Stacey Yadav, "Islamist Parliamentary Politics: Hizballah and al-Islah in comparative perspective"; Ahmet Kuru, "From Islamism to conservative democracy"; Salwa Ismail, chair and discussant.
I suspect I may be sleeping. No offense.
18-4 American Hegemony in Theoretical and Historical Perspective (Roundtable with Bradley Thayer, Robert Gilpin, Michael Desch, Christopher Layne, John Mearsheimer, Jack Snyder) is the big draw here for IR types. But I'm tempted by 19-7 Revisiting Security Dilemmas, with Charles Glaser, Randy Schweller, Jennifer Mitzen, Keir Lieber, and Gerard Alexander.
Friday lunch: "The clash of civilizations and American hegemony", with Francis Fukuyama, Sam Huntington, Ben Barber, Steve Walt, and James Kurth.
Friday, 2:00 I kind of like the title of 10-2, "Introducing Power to Undergraduates" - what, you mean give them a D on their first paper and watch them complain hopelessly just for fun? Just kidding, prospective students. 18-13 looks like an interesting panel on insurgency and counter-insurgency, and the Conference Group on the Middle East offers its annual panel with the usual suspects. I've got some meetings though, so will probably miss all of those.
Friday 4:15 The headline roundtable is the one I made fun of a little while ago: "what has comparative politics accomplished", with Richard Snyder, Robert Dahl, David Laitin, Theda Skocpol, Alfred Stepan, and Gerardo Munck. I'll most likely be among the vast hordes waiting outside the room if, as in past experience, the APSA organizers schedule this one for a tiny broom closet.
You're so funny!
Probably 12-9 Arab Protest Movements, with Marsha Pripstein-Posusney, Malik Mufti (the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria), Salwa Ismail (Syria), Rabab el-Mahdi (Egypt), Joyce Liyan (Syria), and Amaney Jamal. There had been a good paper on Lebanon, but the presenters had to pull out - doh! I might also check out 21-10 The Strategic Logic of Terrorism (Lindsey Heger, Robert Powell, Andrew Kydd, Barbara Walter, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Eli Berman, and David Lake), but loyalty to my section will probably pull me to 12-9.
18-19, Roundtable on the future of the jihadi movement, with Jarrett Brachman and William McCants of the Combatting Terrorism Center), Juan Cole, Peter Bergen, Barbara Bodine, Joe Felter, David Cook, and Jessica Stern (thin on political scientists, but a topic of obvious interest to me).
Saturday 4:15: Of what is Iraq a case? David Laitin, Robert Bates, Martha Crenshaw, Margaret Levi, Stathis Kalyvas.
But what about my own panel, you ask? Well, being a section organizer didn't help me one iota with the panel scheduling. My panel is Sunday morning at 8:00 AM - yes, that's right, the deadest of the dead zones - despite my organizational role and despite my panel including not one but two scholars named in that big survey a couple of years ago as among the top 25 IR scholars doing the most interesting work (Marty Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink). It will be a great panel, and if you're awake at 8 AM on Sunday you should definitely come so that Marty, Kathryn, Dick Price, Henry Shue and I aren't lonely. I'm presenting a paper on the role of moral argument in the sanctions on Iraq in the 1990, and then getting on a train home.
If you're a political scientist and you want to meet up with the aardvark, this may be your chance. Feel free to say hi if you see me. Either way, have a great APSA (unless you're on the job market, in which case such a salutation would just be mean). Everyone else, I'll be back after Labor Day.