First stop: Diana Brydon’s keynote for CACLALS. A talk about “cognitive justice,” which we were encouraged to define for ourselves, before she described it as the goal of “reciprocal knowledge production based on dialogues across differences.” She discussed Europe’s Bologna process to illustrate some of the obstacles — and opportunities — for higher education generally (“global higher ed for the moment is more Americanized than it is globalized”) and for postcolonial studies in particular: “neither the political nor the epistemological challenges posed by postcolonial thinking have yet been met.”
Was nice to run into AU colleague Joe Pivato there. Despite what the next photo suggests, I am in fact neither falling asleep nor drunk.
Second stop: Saskia Sassen’s keynote for the Royal Society of Canada. This dizzying keynote mapped new connections among territory, authority, and rights (as per her eponymous book) — connections not quite national nor global either, like weaponized state borders (e.g. the USA’s) and the remittances of migrants’ income to their home countries (lots of money travels this way). Her main illustration? States now buying territories in other states, expulsing the people to get at the water, agricultural, and mineral resources. Coca Cola: kicked out of India and then “gently invited to leave” New York state for using up fresh water resources. (Because it takes 15 litres of water to make 1 litre of Coke!) Or China: in talks to buy millions of hectares in the Congo and Zambia for palm-oil plantations. Land purchases that Sassen says are illegal (i.e. states cannot buy the territories of other states), but leveraged through some combination of policy grey zones and tactical blind-eye turning.
In the Q&A that followed, Sassen fielded five questions in a row before answering each in sequence — an impressive performance of recall, improv, and reflection.
But the Q&A went long enough we’d only time for a hurried patio lunch before
Third stop: Will Straw’s keynote for ACCUTE. This was a glimpse into the queer bohemia and pulp press of 1920s Greenwich Village, complete with Canadian connections and a cast of characters that seemed taken from some melodrama of moustache-twirling villains. Among the slides he showed of period gossip tabloids and “spicy” magazines, it was difficult not to get distracted by incidental details. Like the half-page ad for “Melz’s original dissolving rubber prophylactics: more protection, more pleasure!” WTF?
Last stop: the annual ACCUTE dance party. It’s always such fun, and shows such a different and uniquely humanizing side of people, where we get to check our formal roles (student, professor, etc.) at the door … I know I’ve got a thing for dance culture, but I remain amazed that ACCUTE is the only society at Congress that regularly throws a dance party. (Haven’t all the other societies been spending most of the day sitting too?)