“The College Art Association and others like it should be worried. With 75% of the college and university teaching force in the US being adjuncts who rarely receive a living wage–let alone funds for conferences–their future is as bleak as ours. Until these organizations acknowledge and step up to support adjuncts, they will continue to see their memberships and conference attendance dwindle.”
She’s right about adjuncts being marginalized at conferences. If the College Art Association is worried, they are a step ahead of the American Anthropological Association and even the less-costly (and more relevant to me) Society for Applied Anthropology. Maybe there are anthropologists emerging from the woodwork, but I doubt it.
I suspect I would not be able to afford any of the archaeological society conferences, although if I teamed up with a couple of others, we might be able to present. On the other hand my closest colleagues and I have been almost exclusively Mojave Desert archaeologists. We have plenty of ideas and a decent amount of evidence behind our ideas, but most of the archaeological work in North America is not riveted upon Mojave Desert work. We are studying an deeply understudied area. This is what we love to do; it’s what we do. We have piles of gray literature. This is what CRM archaeologists do. We write scads of gray literature that may be very high quality with detailed research but sine it’s labeled “gray literature” we cannot publish it. Maybe one day I’ll compile some of it into book form, load it with photographs, and get a coffee table book out of it for the three of us. I’ve thought about this for years. Even if we’re marginalized in academia, maybe the rest of the world might like to know what’s been going on out here.
The one area that may welcome me to a conference is the eco-farm world. There is a single annual conference that I may be able to afford some years. Whether I can afford the time off teaching, I’m not sure. Going to conference is not worth losing my meager assortment of classes. So I wait until they hold it near a weekend. On the other hand I have explored a variety of conferences with the word “sustainability” in them. What a joke. Too many of these are responding to the current trendiness of the concept of “sustainability” and the desire to stuff money in their pockets. I showed one to my farm day group last year and they were aghast. Several of the long-time people told me “We could organize something here at RSF every bit as good as this conference.” And we wouldn’t need to charge that kind of money.
A new trend for really good indie bands has been the phenomenon of house concerts. Maybe we need to begin farmhouse conferences in the field of sustainability education. I know of a few higher income farms doing just this. Their prices are reasonable (I do not know about the quality of the workshops and presentations, but on paper they look good, and I suspect they are). Farm/garden and permaculture people being who they are – the conference-holders offer camping on their land along with the usual local hotels to stay at.
The adjunct authors maintains,
“When you can’t pay your bills, you won’t be traveling somewhere to listen to four days of colleagues presenting their papers; you don’t have that luxury. We need support from these organizations. They can’t continue to turn a blind eye.”
While I agree with her, think about it. She’s been waiting 22 years. I’ve been waiting ten. Maybe it’s time to try something new.