so much to write on, so little time

Being lazy, yous get another list:

- The rest of the BigNameUniversity Symposium turned out to be rather excellent, in fact. Managed to get into contact with a lot of younger people doing similar types of stuff, realised the "divide" between how we here in the United States do this and how (most of) the other parts of the world do it is immense and it's not much to do with gender but with geographical spaces.

- The amusing (and yet disturbing because I thought we'd done away with this quite a while ago) equation of "gender" with "women". This was actually one of the issues brought up during the evaluation session at the end of the Symposium.

- The intensity--we had sessions from 8am to 9pm, full-on, including people talking at us during our meals. Yup. No spare time to do anything at all, including email.

- The strange unfamiliarity of being in a place I know quite well (BigNameUniversity) and yet feeling rather like a stranger but, also, the familiarity of having people from South-east Asia, Australia (yes, peeps, I missed yous!) to chat with. During BigNameConference, I always feel rather lost when colleagues start bandying names about. For once, I had my own (places, not people--not many famous people in Oz or Southeast Asia!) names to bandy about and argue over.

- Another amusing (yet disturbing) observation that, in a 200-people reception for "women in government", "women in security" and "women in defence", our Symposium members (5 of us) were the only Asian folks about. So, the security field is not much diverse after all.

- Discussing subject positioning and power politics with a colleague who was giving the Thank You speech at this reception (said colleague being dressed in a sari during this occasion).

- Realising that I can't restrain myself from being cheeky as, when asked to provide a "two minute summary of policy prescriptions from your research", pointing out that I plan to teach kids to think about assumptions underlying and constructing their views of security (and our views of security) and that's that. This, needless to say, did not go down well at all.*

- The sheer good fun of having lunch at the Canadian embassy, seeing people hang about in the House of Reps and the Senate (we saw the No Confidence Motion for the Chief Justice thingy--the Senate is actually a rather small space) and going to the American Academy of the Sciences to talk about science and security "nexus".

- SO, now, I'm sat in a coffee shop in Chicago, taking a break before I go to find my lodging. I just got here after a 17 hour train trip in which I was sat next to this kid, who wants to join the marines. We had a great chat about music, films and gaming as well as relationships with blokes. She kept on telling people she was on the phone to that she'd met someone who was "almost 30--isn't that insane?"** She was almost the same age as one of my sisters, she knew what she wanted to do ("go to the Marines because they will pay for me to go to school. Also, I can travel the world"). Coming from a Symposium which discussed ways to get more women into decision-making positions, it was interesting (and yet sad) to see how her choices were fairly limited despite being from one of the richest countries in the world. She worked 12-hour days at the local mall and planned to join the marines so she could get "stationed somewhere cool". Compared to the kids I teach at TUWSNBN (all the kids in my last class had travelled overseas, spoke another language apart from English and were planning on living abroad), this girl was the same age but her position was such that her options for doing what my kids take for granted, were very limited.

All right, off my Speakers' Box for now. I should head off to find my lodging (a dorm room--another one!--at the University of Chicago). For those interested, I'm here till Saturday, then I leave for Wyoming and then Portland (Oregon) and finally Berkeley on the 21st. I don't have a camera but yous will be forced to read about my trip (assuming it goes well).

* The "feedback" I received from my discussant said that I had not thought through the policy implications of my research and that this was a "strong drawback". It also said I should ditch discussion of methodology and just "let the example (a case from Nepal) speak for itself".

** Yes--her Mum, "nana", two friends and boyfriend all got to hear about me. And my advanced age. And how I was still single "but she doesn't seem to care". I think the entire train carriage knew all that about me by the end of the journey!


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