School of Social Sciences


31.07.2008 15:27 Age: 10 yrs
Category: SSS News

Conference Report - 49th annual convention of the International Studies Association

To: The Acting Dean, Faculty of Arts Law

From: Dr Sandra Tarte, School of Social Science

Subject: Conference Leave report

Date: 16 April, 2008.

  1. Background

I was granted Conference Leave – funded by USP – to attend the 49th annual convention of the International Studies Association, held in San Francisco, USA from 26 – 29 March, 2008. The Conference venue was the San Francisco Hilton, and this is also where many of the Conference delegates (including myself) stayed.

This was a vast conference, with about 5,000 individuals on the program, and over 1000 different panels. It was by far the largest academic conference I have yet attended. Most of the participants were from North America and Europe. The Conference theme was ‘Bridging Multiple Divides’. However with so many participants and panels this theme was difficult to sustain throughout the Conference. In fact, just 225 panels were organized explicitly around this theme, with the remainder covering the many different issues and topics that fall within the broad field of International Studies.  

  1. My participation

I was invited to be part of a panel addressing the topic “Critical Approaches to the Study of ‘Small States’ in the Global Order”. The panel was convened by Professor Tony Payne from the University of Sheffield, a well-known scholar in the field of critical international political economy. Others on the panel included a close colleague from the Australian National University – Mr Greg Fry – and two other UK-based academics: Dr Rorden Wilkinson from the University of Manchester and Dr Tony Heron from the University of Sheffield. This panel was scheduled for the morning of 26 March (the first day of the Conference).

My presentation was titled ‘The Marginalization Discourse’. (Paper available if required). This reviewed how the marginalization issue or problem has been articulated in the Pacific islands region; how this discourse has served different agendas over time; and how Pacific island states have – themselves – been active in its propagation. The paper was well received, and there was a lively and constructive discussion following the panel presentations. (Professor Payne’s presentation was on ‘The Vulnerability Discourse’ while Greg Fry discussed the role of the region).         

  1. Benefits to USP

I attended a number of panels featuring some of the leading academics in the field of international relations. It was a valuable and unique opportunity to hear first-hand their perspectives on some key contemporary issues and debates. Although the perspectives were very North American-centered, there was nevertheless a wealth of experience and intellectual authority to learn from. Many of the issues discussed relate directly to the subject matter of the courses I teach at undergraduate level (namely PL201 Introduction to International Politics and PL302 International Politics of the Asia Pacific).

I also established links (or renewed associations with) other academics that may be productive in the future. These included members of the panel I was on, as well as other participants at the Conference. Of particular importance were discussions I was able to hold with these colleagues about possible curriculum innovations for the post-graduate International Affairs program at USP. I also had some fruitful discussions about the book project I embarked on while on sabbatical in second semester 2006. This project has not made much progress since then, although some writing has been completed. Since discussions in San Francisco, I am considering reviewing the approach. This will require further consultations with other potential authors.   

 I wish to express my appreciation to the Dean’s office, Faculty of Arts and Law, for supporting my attendance at this very important and worthwhile conference. Travel and per diem receipts may be provided if required.

 Sandra Tarte

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