Why the Dark Side is Always More Fun (or, Etiquette Lessons to a Postgrad)

Now, yous already know that I am unlikely to get a proper job in academia here--after all, I have no social skills, I don't hang out with people at conferences and I have a distressing tendency to pick holes in other folks' arguments (latest transgression--telling this "Hotshot" terrorism guy Game Theoretical models of the study of Terrorism are just plain wrong and a complete waste of time).

However (and this was the case with BigNameConference earlier this year when I found the Realist bunch far more entertaining and nice than the people I was supposed to know/hang out with. Realists were also less clique-ish than the Constructivists, if that were possible), I have decided over tonight's dinner that these Terrorism people are surprisingly full of helpful advice.

Why do I say that, yous ask? Well, we all went to dinner. Over the course of dinner, my fellow dinner folks (4 tenure-track professors or tenured professors and one NYC police officer; 4 blokes, one woman) came up with a checklist of "Things postgrad students should be aware of at Conferences". Since I too am a helpful sort of person (mostly), let me share them:

1. Network, network, network: This was emphasised later by my Friend from BigNameUni (who is chauffeuring me about Williamsburg since I am too much of a slacker to walk about and because today's restaurant was not within walking distance unless you were prepared to walk for an hour) on the way back to the flat. Apparently at DNU, they are given advice about how to get along with people and what type of questions/comments to ask at Conferences and stuff. In other words, the socialisation process is inculcated into postgrads. I'm a bit envious at that and miffed that TUWSNBN does not have anything similar. Or, maybe I am just not socialised enough to be aware of it? DNU folks (and the other people at this Workshop) have been marvellous in introducing each other and introducing people to the speakers who are about. The speakers end up staying a few days so one gets loads of chances to interact and argue with them, which is all quite good.

If I were a quant-girl (hey, how's that for a superhero name? QuantGirl), I'd be in heaven. Since I am the odd outlier who does discourse analysis and identity stuff, there's little mention of how I do what I do but plenty of mentions of how I should get together with the others, make contacts, hang out. It's nice to have this openly-said and facilitated. I like that.

2. Join the others: This came about when one of them noticed I had lunch by myself though a whole bunch of others were sitting at a nearby table. In my defence, the second half of the France-Switzerland match was on the big screen TV (visible from my table but not from theirs) and I have waited FOUR years for this event. Not specifically for France vs. Switzerland since that was dreadfully dull but for the World Cup. I'm already missing loads of matches due to this Workshop and I didn't want to spend my lunch hour talking to people I would easily see again, in the course of the next few days. This was difficult to get across since the folks who were at my dinner table didn't appreciate the wonders of football (or my overwhelming interest in it). Still, a good point, I suppose.

3. Journals: Dinner talk was also about which journals to submit things to, which journals people had submitted things to, how long journals took in getting back to you (and which were quick and which took ages), which journals had better reputations, how many journal articles were likely needed for potential tenure, etc. It was fantastic--why don't we have such sessions at TUWNSNBN?

I think it helped that these people were not at the same level as me i.e. they were not dissertating. The cop is going to be writing what seems to be a great article on how mental/psychological profiling of terrorists is useless (yay, cop guy!) but that behavioural profiling is and can be very helpful. I pointed out that what he was calling "behavioural profiling" was discourse analysis--looking at what people were wearing and how they were acting to make sense. Of course, that it could lead to events like that Brazilian guy being shot in London. But, still. I managed to sneak in what I did into the cop's work and make it understandable, I think. I also tried to point out the P-word* (which no one has mentioned all week, though it's a workshop on teaching about Terrorism) was involved in much of our discussions. Not much headway there but, just like missionaries of yore, I'll keep trying (to communicate and provide choices, not to convert).

* Power. Or, more specifically, power relations.


At 6/14/2006 10:18 AM, Anonymous serena said...

AH sounds like this lunch was the most helpful for you out of everything thus far.

You learned a great deal about conferences and networking and you even talked about your project...WOOHOO...GOOD JOB...that's your one and only pat on the back...

now back to footy updates! LOL my cable is out and i can't tape the port match on saturday and will miss it :( since they will not be back to my area until tues of next week! UGH


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