CFP Roundup

As school comes back in session for most, there are a handful of calls for papers that I wanted to draw your attention to.

A conference on Theory and Practice: The Limits of Ethics for Guiding Action will be hosted at the University of Toronto in March. While the conference is centered on ethics, philosophy, and justice, proposals are welcome in any disciplines. Submissions are due on January 18th.

Cornell Law School’s Inter-University Graduate Conference [pdf] is accepting submissions, which will be due January 18th.

American University’s Washington College of Law has a student writing competition on International Humanitarian Law. All law students are eligilble, and the deadline in January 31st.

The Sudan Studies Association will be convening its annual meeting in May in Philadelphia, and they are accepting submissions for papers, panels, roundtables, and thematic conversations. The theme for the conference is Greater Sudan: Cross Roads to the Future. Submissions are due on March 1st.

The Yale Journal of International Affairs (where I am an assistant editor) has issued a call for papers for its spring/summer issue. The journal aims to bridge academia and policy on a variety of topics, and will be accepting submissions for short articles and op-eds. Deadline is March 1st.

UPDATE: A commenter has alerted me that The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs is taking submissions for the print journal from scholars, practitioners, and PhD candidates until Feb 15. They also accept submissions for their website.

As usual, if you know of any conferences or journals that are looking for submissions, let me know!

Book Recommendations – South African Edition

So, my online presence has been a bit quiet. Weekend readings and occasional tweets are still outgoing, but not much else. My first semester of grad school has come and gone, and the last few weeks have been spent polishing off two term papers, preparing proposals for my thesis, studying for a language final, and moving Henry James books around at the library. Now that all of that’s done, I wanted to recommend some of the many books I still have stacked on my windowsill.

For a South African history course, I wrote a term paper looking at how anti-Apartheid activists used their own trials as platforms to criticize the government. I concentrated on Nelson Mandela’s trials (when caught in hiding and then in the Rivonia Trial) and Steve Biko’s testimony in the Black Consciousness Trial, but found other examples too. I spent some time looking at court records on microfilm – like an old school historian – but these are a few of the more helpful books on the subject of trials during apartheid:

  • Donald Woods’ Biko is a great book for all things Steve Biko. A journalist and friend of Biko’s, Woods includes lengthy excerpts from Biko’s five-days-long testimony in the Black Consciousness trial which I’ve come to rely on. An alternative to this is Millard Arnold’s complete transcript of the trial, although it’s hard to find.
  • Michael Lobban’s White Man’s Justice, while not specifically addressing my topic, is a really good resource on how the apartheid state used trials to legitimate oppression.
  • Joel Joffe’s The State vs. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa is a good account of the Rivonia Trial, on which Joffe served as an assistant counsel to the defense. His writing style isn’t the best, and he jumps back and forth from trial transcripts to his own narration without much notice, which can be frustrating if you’re doing research.
  • Mary Benson edited a collection of speeches given by activists in The Sun Will Rise: Statements from the Dock by Southern African Political Prisoners, which includes several statements I used in my paper in addition to other really interesting excerpts.

Another term paper I did was on the symbol of land and territory as a founding myth for South Africa. It was for my first ever sociology course, and I chose to look at South African history and the founding myth that Afrikaners had crafted. I used a lot of articles (by du Toit on the role of Calvinism, Templin on the Great Trek, and Marschall on monuments), but these books came in handy as well:

but nonetheless I’ve found these texts to be really helpful:

  • T. Dunbar Moodie’s The Rise of Afrikanerdom utilizes the sociological concept of a civil religion, and in this book he paints a clear picture of the role of the Boers’ Calvinist religion in their nationalism throughout the early twentieth century.
  • Leonard Thompson’s The Political Mythology of Apartheid examines the concept pretty thoroughly, looking at the history of the Great Trek and its place at the center of Afrikaner nationalism. It does a good job of looking at how this came about and when.
  • Another helpful text is Donald Harman Akenson’s God’s Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel, and Ulster. It compares the prominence of a covenant with God in the narratives of the Afrikaners in South Africa, the Zionists in Israel, and the Protestants in Northern Ireland. It doesn’t say much that Moodie and Thompson don’t already explain, but it’s a great comparative look.
  • The Frightened Land: Land, Landscape and Politics in South Africa in the Twentieth Century by Jennifer Beningfield was a great resource. Required reading for the history course mentioned above, it’s a really innovative look at how apartheid changed the actual landscape of South Africa. For this paper, the chapter on the Voortrekker Monument was essential – the whole book is well-worth a read.

And those are my recommended readings on South Africa. Hopefully someone finds these recommendations helpful. With the end of the semester, you should see more of me over the winter reprieve from school. While I might be done with these papers, I’d love any additions – feel free to comment if you know of other resources on these topics.

Living Cheaply

The campaign this year is asking students to think specifically about whether they’re “living cheap enough,” Ainsworth said, and encouraging them to forgo immediate gratification for the payoff of graduating with minimal debt.

“I understand that it’s poverty wages,” he said of many students’ budgets, “but [they] have to understand what [they] do now, [they’ll] pay for later.”

That’s A. Jerald Ainsworth, dean of the Graduate School at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, quoted today over at Inside Higher Ed, on making sure poor people are acting poor enough. The article gets moderately better later on, when discussing other options such as limiting fees or raising loan limits, and makes a less than passing reference to maybe providing more assistantships to graduate students, but that quote is a kicker.

Graduate students work a lot, and are paid very little. Ainsworth even acknowledges that we’re talking about poverty wages. But his solution isn’t to provide more support, instead it’s making sure students continue to be poor, but do it better. But we all know that living cheap takes its toll on those doing the living, and when the very same people are doing the researching and the teaching, it’s students and work that are dragged down too. And if you put impoverished grad students alongside impoverished adjuncts, you’re talking about a bulk of the work being done on most campuses being a casualty to a lack of support or even adequate pay.

Living cheaply means pretty much everything is more time-consuming and life-draining. It’s difficult to teach at your best when you had to wait half an hour for the bus before sitting in the bus for another half hour to get to class on time, all the while lugging your bag full of assignments you had to grade while sitting at the laundromat. And since living cheaply means cooking instead of eating out, you might have to make that return trip for lunch. And keep in mind that amidst all of this, you’re trying to do top-quality research in order to move forwards, all the while trying to excel at living cheaply.

I’m curious how cheaply these people expect graduate students to live. I’m lucky enough that I have a manageable, rather than unbearable, amount of debt thanks to help from my parents with tuition and my wife working all of the time. Meanwhile I walk a couple of miles a day and frequently devise plans to get free food. I suppose that Ainsworth’s campaign might tell me to assess my utilities and turn the heat down a little, but they could make the required hospitalization insurance cheaper or provide more teaching positions or provide better notification of scholarships. And these are mostly PhD students we’re talking about. In some ways, they have it far better in that they receive tuition stipends and are first in line for teaching fellowships. Often times, MA students are self-financed and (if they’re lucky) get the leftover teaching assignments. Only one in my cohort of eleven are teaching this semester, and only some of us received funding for tuition.

Rather than teaching graduate students to be better at being poor, maybe provide a little more support for them?

CFP Roundup

Now that I’m a graduate student, I’m in the constant search for conferences and calls for papers related to things I’m interested in. I know at least some readers are in the same boat, so I’m going to start linking to relevant info whenever I run across it. If you know of anything related to the broad, broad topics I look at, feel free to send them to me and I’ll post them here. Without further ado, some items of interest:

This spring, The Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference will be centered around the topic of “Failure.” The conference will be on February 15 and 16 in Milwaukee, and the deadline for submissions is Dec. 10.

Politique Africaine‘s October 2013 issue will be centered on the mining boom in Africa. Abstracts are due by December 15. More info at the African Politics Conference Group.

The Center for 21st Century Studies at UW-Milwaukee also has a Call for Papers for its May 2-4 conference, “The Dark Side of the Digital.” The conference is looking for “critical, historical, and theoretical papers and creative presentations that shed light on some of the dangerous but overlooked consequences of the 21st-century transformation from mechanical reproduction to digital remediation. Deadline is Jan. 4.

The third Theorizing the Web conference will be in New York City on March 2nd. It’s a conference looking for “critical and theoretical explorations of digital technologies.” Deadline is January 6.

The Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School is hosting a conference on New Directions in Global Thought on June 3 and 4 in Cambridge.

Update: The Department of Religion at Montreal’s Concordia University is hosting its Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference, with a call for paper whose deadline has been extended to Dec. 15. They are accepting calls for the conference’s theme, “Brave New World: Traditions and Transitions” as well as the special section on “Order and Chaos: The More Things Change.”

Connecticut Colleges Respond to Sandy

Saturday and Sunday, virtually all of the schools in Connecticut announced closures for parts of this week.  Preschools, primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools across the state will be closed at least today, if not tomorrow or later. Even the University of Hartford, an hour north of the coast, will be closed through Wednesday. Across the state, bus systems closed last night, soon after New York’s MTA system was closed, and highways will be closing in a matter of hours.

Along the coast, universities and campuses in Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven are shuttered ahead of what promises to be a mighty hurricane. In New Haven, we’ve been watching the news pretty regularly to see how things go, and I’ve been keeping my e-mail open to see if Yale would close. By Saturday evening, all of the colleges in New Haven (University of New Haven, Southern Connecticut State University, Albertus Magnus College, and nearby Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University, and University of Bridgeport) had announced at least Monday and Tuesday closures. All of the colleges except Yale.

Yale waited until late afternoon Sunday to announce Monday’s closure, and they have yet to announce plans for Tuesday. The university seems to have begrudgingly cancelled classes yesterday afternoon, and I don’t see how it will remain open tomorrow, when the storm is at its worst. It’s a bizarre way to handle what is predicted to be a surge twice that of Irene.