Because I just didn’t sit down to write the travel observation post, thought I would instead offer you some semi random observations about the first day of the American Historical Association annual meeting in Boston…now with more pictures!
The last AHA I was at was in New York City in 2009 and that bad mutha was packed with people. Anecdotally, the consensus seems to be so far that while San Diego last year seemed really low on the attendance scale (with the Job Market of Doom making a huge impact in that regard), this year is not up to New York levels. Obviously the AHA itself might have a view toward this, but I’m unaware of any attendance numbers they may or may not put out (I suppose I could read it in PERSPECTIVES or something, but eh…). The smoothness of the registration corral here (compared to the cattle car horror that was New York — for perspective see my previous post “AHA Registration Hell“) could mean either better efficiency or less people or something else entirely.
Did a little morning shopping along Newbury Street and the surrounding area to hit up a local comic book store (something I do in every city I travel to if I can). Stumbled into Comicopia which had shelves teeming with comics, trade paperbacks, and assorted novelty items…rather clean and organized, which is exactly how a comic book store should be (and I have certainly come across my fair share of shit-tacular shops run by hobbyists and not business peeps). Bought a Batman TPB (Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, which is by all accounts ‘fuck yeah’ awesome) and the first Scholastic volume of Jeff Smith’s Bone (to give to the Boy). If comics are your thing, then hit them up. Afterwards, walking back to the convention center to register, stopped in a Starbucks (yes, I know) where I snapped the accompanying picture of Lemont Dobson plotting ways to break into the historical TV business.
Actually attended a panel, which was interesting and surreal all at the same time. Entitled “Ireland, India, and Palestine: Connections across the Decolonizing British Empire,” the session papers seem to have stemmed in part from the Decolonization Seminar series hosted by the National History Center and directed by Professor Wm. Roger Louis of the University of Texas at Austin. Having only a passing interest in the issue of postwar decolonization of European empires, I thought the session papers were rather interesting (like, duh, what else am I going to say, right?). All three historians made some cogent and original arguments about the various intersections of the Irish, Indian, and Palestinian partitions, which also sparked some lively feedback from the audience. Even the commentator’s critique was relatively muted, although he seemed to go after the second paper a bit more than the others (a “thought piece” by Penny Sinanoglou of Princeton University attempting to scrutinize the perception and reality of haste in partition debates over Palestine and India, with a desire to complicate the view that Britain scuttled chaotically and messily away from Palestine and India in the late 1940s). What was surreal about the session was observing the conference etiquette of people, or rather the lack thereof. Without being more specific, here’s a word of advice: don’t wander loudly into a three paper panel session fifty-five minutes past the start time; it’s not like they were holding the panel in abeyance until you got there. Ridiculous.
Dinner tonight was the Twitterstorian dinner, organized by urban/cultural historian and Pied Piper of the Twitterstorians, Katrina Gulliver. There were a little less than two dozen of us there (Twitterstorians are historians active on Twitter…there), but I’m fairly sure most everyone enjoyed themselves (I did, which is a marvel in and of itself considering my having what I call an Introverted Extrovert personality). The History News Networks Cliopatria Awards for Best History Blogging were announced (and promptly tweeted), and copious amounts of alcohol were imbibed. Here’s to Chicago’s meet-up in 2012!