Conference Inference editors Emily and Jamie – then and now!
Today, we celebrate the first anniversary of Conference Inference Blog. For us, one year of blogging represents a significant personal and professional milestone, and we want to celebrate it! For those of you who are wondering, a year’s worth of blogging represents twenty-nine posts, with contributions from 17 fantastic guest writers. It has involved the engagement of thousands of readers from more than 80 countries. It has enabled a host of interesting discussions on our Facebook Page. It has meant inviting friends to join us in thinking about conferences, and brought us into contact with colleagues who we may not have had an excuse to email otherwise. As editors we set ourselves the goal of publishing a post fortnightly, and we have surprised ourselves in succeeding with this goal (aside from our break over the Christmas period).
Fittingly, the beginnings of Conference Inference itself can be traced back to a conference. The editors (Emily Henderson and Jamie Burford) first met by email, planning for the 2014 Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) conference in Wales for a symposium titled Queering the academy. We then wrote up a ‘queer’ conference review on this symposium and an earlier event on queer theory in higher education. As our friendship developed we realised that we not only shared a mutual interest in queer theory, we were both hooked on conferences as an area of scholarship. We sent emails back and forth with snippets of conference representation. We saw conferences here and then there and then sort of everywhere. The emails reached a critical point. We decided we wanted to do something with all these ideas about conferences, and to have the chance to work together. We started this blog.
In our first blogpost we stated that our goal was to think about ‘what conferences mean and do’ and we identified our curiosity about the ways ‘conferences may be changing, how they impact on our lives, and how they could be imagined otherwise’. We emphasised that we were interested in interdisciplinary accounts of conferences, and that hearing from writers from around the world was a priority for us. We mentioned that we hoped to create a space for pieces that were a little bit out there, and that we would welcome pieces that exceeded the conference ‘tips and tricks’ genre. We identified our interest in the socio-politics of conferences, and our desire to track the inclusions and exclusions that conferences tend to reproduce. Checking in with ourselves after one year we find that these are still hopes we have for this blog. It is also our hope that the posts that we and our many guests have written over the past year have allowed us to edge closer to our initial ambitions.
We have a few big thank yous! Thank you to all of the people who have written for us, read our pieces and passed them on. We’ve loved having this space to think and share with you. We are excited about some upcoming pieces we have in the pipeline. We have pieces coming up on unconferencing, conference discos, the role of conferences during an academic career and ‘retirement’, attending conferences with a baby, and the challenges that rural, women, lower caste and indigenous Indian academics face in accessing conferences.
Our next piece is a special anniversary post written by Emeritus Professor Valerie Hey, who has reflected on the first year of Conference Inference. It is our great pleasure that she has accepted our invitation to begin our discussions for 2018.
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