AAG 2014 Tampa Conference, Day 2: Thoughts From The Bar

By Chantel Carr

Chantel is a PhD Candidate with the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. She is currently at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida.

A nice evening wander back to the hotel bar tonight, via a quick pit stop at the taco bar. Cheap! Another night for ranging across topics and thoughts spurred by the day’s diverse conference sessions – so far Ellen’s recount of a plenary about epigenetics, discussions about urban morphology and materials, ‘selfies’ and what it’s like to live in different places, making new friends and learning from the local. A somewhat calm recap of what has been a great day.

I presented early today on some ideas from a paper I’ve been working on with Elyse Stanes, on the ways bloggers make very personal things – identities, families and homes – for the online world. The session announcement a few months ago had given us a bit of a boost – and plenty of accompanying nerves – when we realized Robyn Longhurst (Waikato) was also presenting in the session – on a topic not altogether too far from our own. Robyn was absolutely brilliant to meet in person, really warm and engaging, conspiratorial almost. She was travelling with Lynda Johnston, and it was great to be able to draw on connections between fellow AUSCCER PhDs (knowing that Anna de Jong had recently spent time with Lynda in New Zealand) to beat the introduction nerves. The paper presentation went fairly well. It’s a tentative step for Elyse and I into starting to connect our work on cultures of making, production and consumption, and there was some useful questions and feedback to think through over the coming weeks.

The end of the day was another highlight, perhaps my highlight of the conference so far, and a great bookend to the start of the day. I caught an ‘author meets critics’ session for Christine Eriksen’s new book, Gender and Wildfire. The session was absolutely captivating for me. Christine’s book was very well received by an impressive line-up, including Paul Robbins, Stentor Danielson, Sue Jackson (ill but represented by AUSCCER friend and colleague Ruth Lane) and Gregory Simon, and chaired by Jan Monk. They were effusive in compliment and offering considered and thoughtful criticisms and thoughts on directions for future research. Christine’s responses were perhaps the most captivating. She offered insights into the personal upheaval that came out of the book, and particularly her fieldwork. Her responses were equally considered and thoughtful. So at the end of the day I find myself reflecting on the enormous impact other women – both senior academics and early career researchers – are having on me at the moment. Christine made some poignant comments on the ways women are impacted by normative gender roles in everyday practice – holding it all together, dispersed and fragmented time – when it comes to dealing with fire. I find myself reflecting on my own issues with fragmented time, and how it impacts on my writing practice. Perhaps it’s time to prioritise. I know I’m going to be thinking about today over the coming days, weeks, months as thoughts return to my thesis.

If you’re on Twitter you can follow Chantel @lifeofstuff for updates from the conference. Follow conference updates using the hashtag #AAG2014.



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