Monday, September 01, 2014

Marching on

... marching on in a/b major ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

explanation; SEM conference

The post on a Brazilian music topic that you may find in the RSS feed for this blog was posted by mistake. I intended to post it at and hit the wrong button in the dashboard. I've deleted it from the site.

I won't be able to attend the Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Middletown due to planning work for a big event at the Univ. of North Texas in November. There are a large number of papers that interest me, so this will be an experiment in finding out as much as possible about what goes on without being there, including asking authors for a copy and finding people who are blogging from the conference. I'll be able to attend the SEM chapter meeting that is being held at my institution in April.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A. L. J.

This is an announcement of my A. L. J., the Anthropo Logic Journals at, to participate in writing, please send your social and cultural anthropology related article by registering. Thank you!

Sybil Amber

Hoping to get a bit of a boost in contributions soon

Hi all. I was at the Anarchist Studies Network conference in Loughborough (UK) last week, and there was lot of interest in this blog, so once I get around to posting the invitation to the relevant lists, we might well get some healthy interest and conversation.

Still not sure why the word verification is still in place ...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Streamed recycling bin at the Quebec City Convention Centre:

The wasted paper that filled all the extra bags they gave away at the end of the conference:

Most of it was travel and tourism information.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Academics Beware: Traveling through the U.S. and U.K.

Conference-goers and traveling researchers need to be very wary of some recent developments. Whether you are a U.S. citizen, or just a visitor, whether returning home to the U.S., or just traveling through because your travel agent found the cheapest flights take you through the U.S., U.S. Border Patrol and Customs agents can:

  • Scan and hold laptops indefinitely
  • They can make electronic copies of hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, video and audio tapes
  • They can seize papers, documents, books, pamphlets, or even litter (source)

The scans and seizures are also being used to search for copyright violations (you need to prove that the music on your iPod is music you purchased, presumably).

It must be emphasized: while the media continue to repeat the word laptops as if these were the only focus of the search and seizure, the fact is that it can be any form of recording or documentation in any format that can be searched and seized. Indeed, one has to wonder why the media repeat each other in narrowing their focus.

From a UK perspective, this is nothing new, as the same applies there and came into effect there first.

From the vantage point of anthropologists who often travel overseas to do ethnographic research, this is a major problem if traveling through either the U.K. or the U.S.: we swear to safeguard informant confidentiality, and that is essentially null and void now that any or all of our data can be copied and used. It also potentially turns our paper and electronic documentation of a community into an instrument of free, involuntary, global surveillance for the U.S. It also means that our various ethics review agencies are making academics sign on to policies that they can no longer reasonably uphold, such as confidentiality.

In my case it means something very simple: the U.K. and the U.S. are simply completely off my list of possible travel choices for as long as such policies stay in place. From a personal point of view, the world suddenly got a little smaller, much more manageable, and my data is safer.

For more on this see:

Washington Post: Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained at Border

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Policy description (pdf)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Answering Questions on Border Laptop Searches

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hello from IFLA

Just wanted to write a quick note from the International Federation of Library Associaitions conference in Québec City, Québec.

This is my second academic conference this summer (well, second ever), and is so very different from the ACA conference I last posted about. Over 4,000 delegates flew, drove, trained, or bused to Québec City for the week-long conference. The sessions are translated in up to 6 languages, and span the gammot of librarianship and information studies. The conference is being held at the Centre des congrès de Québecis, a massive building right in the heart of the city. It's so big, the federation has outsourced the organization (which seems pretty typical for this type of thing) to an event organizing company, Concorde Services.

In my conference bag, I have a 200 page program, printed in French and English, a CD-ROM version of the program with the conference papers, all sorts of maps and tourism information, a small spiral bound notebook, and other ephemera. It really is a lot of paper, but truth be told, with something this size, it's felt good more than once to have a bag full of information on paper. The pen that came with the notebook is amazing, I will post a picture shortly.

Lots more to write about soon.

Monday, June 16, 2008

from the conference

I just returned from the ACA conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where my grand plans to blog about the environmental aspects of the conference during the conference were dashed by an epic East/West softball game, a trip to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery where I saw an amazing painting by Attila Richard Lukacs and some other nice works, and other things that made the four-day pass as quickly as the gas it took to get there.
The conference was at the Crown Plaza Lord Beaverbrook, though I didn't stay there. It was a nice place, and although there were some concerns that the recent floods in the area would affect the hotel, the conference went on as planned and was quite good.

A few weeks ago, I posted about efforts the organizers have made to reduce the environmental impact of the conference. Rather than make conference bags, they chose to give out reusable grocery bags from the local co-op. There were packets with what I think was the minimal amount of paper a conference could distribute (I ended up not using my Carr McLean notepad because I brought my own - but many others used them). The bulky conference program was not printed.

The hotel is apparently certified by TheGreenKey, which I still don't know a whole lot about. It used reusable dishes and cutlery for everything but one box lunch, which was just a recyclable cardboard box. Fredericton's recycling however, leaves much to be desired. There was no sorting bins or compost bins I could find anywhere in the city. I forgot my coffee mug, so I was glad to see the conference provide reusable cups during coffee breaks. I used two Tim Horton's paper cups and no less than one dozen mini coffee cups instead of my signature stainless steel mug.

I drove with a friend from Halifax, and we spent around $130 on fuel for the zippy Pontiac G6 we rented. The 2005 G6 gets around 26 MPG but it seemed better than that somehow. Many delegates flew to the conference of course. Because it was a national association, the delegates mostly came from within Canada. This conference was not international in scope like some of the conferences Anthony posted about recently.

You could say our reliance on all the hotel's electricity and energy usage was limited to the actual conference because we stayed with a friend. I think conferences could do a lot more to link delegates with local, affordable home-stays or something else more friendly and less wasteful than a large hotel, but Fredericton is a small place and it wouldn't have worked there. Or worked well at least. Transportation would become an issue and it'd be hard to argue that it was in any way reducing the total "carbon output" or helping with any other measure of the associations environmental impact.

For my first conference, I must say I enjoyed myself a great deal. I know everyone thinks about these things, and the city's recycling program (or lack thereof) was definitely noticeable to me and many other delegates.

The notion of associations taking a stand on things such as sponsorship, politics, and other aspects of our non-professional lives came up once or twice and I wondered what it would do to cities without strong recycling programs if major associations only opted for cities that met a certain set of criteria, like sorting boxes in the streets and conference venue for instance. I really didn't generate a lot of rubbish outside the hotel, but when I did, I had no choice but to use the system at hand. It made me cringe a bit. Would cities respond to this kind of outing? Would hoteliers lobby the city?

Food for though I suppose.