by Sharon H Chang
Words never suffice, but if I had to describe what I do in one word it would be "writer". That one strand of six letters does me best, right now anyway, because I wear a lot of writer hats and other labels just don't solo-suit. I write as a blogger. I write as an editorialist. I write as a critic and commentator. But I also write as a journalist. I write as a researcher. And I write as an independent scholar and book author (i.e. not affiliated to any specific college or university).
As the latter I've gone to several academic conferences over the last couple years. The most recent being the American Sociological Association (ASA) Meeting in Chicago, August 22-25. The ASA Meeting is by far the biggest conference I've attended to-date. It's huge, HUGE, representing around 600 program sessions, 3,000 research papers and 4,600 presenters. The scope is overwhelming, enormous, gargantuan. It's a place where a lot of big name sociologists as well as up-and-coming sociologists present their research for the first time. It's prestigious, internationally attended, and sort of a "gold standard" for folks in that field. Which certainly shows how massive the field of sociology is.
So. What was it like for a feminist of color, multi-hat, independent "writer" (who writes on systemic racism, mixed race, the Asian American diaspora, and is unattached to academia) to go to this annual academic ASA Meeting for the first time? Well. I'll tell you...