Got tired of packing and unpacking……
That’s a line from the theme to WKRP in Cincinnati, a quirky 80s sitcom remembered by some of us. It also might be the theme from the Hotel Nederland, which hosted this year’s SfAA meeting. All things considered; the meeting was good; the beginning of return to an after-Covid way of life. But the art deco, vintage hotel, with its beauty disguised by dust and feathers, had an element of tragi-comedy to it.
One guest was awakened when a hunk of plaster fell on her head. She packed and unpacked and was moved to another room. It turned out to be already occupied. Packed and unpacked again. Third times a charm. Yet another SfAA guest was given the key to a room that was in the process of being painted. Orit and Jeanne, with roommate Susan Andreatta, wrote their names in the dust of their room on the 23rd floor. They also did not have hot water for a whole day, and it took almost 24hrs to get the room cleaned.
The hotel was likely in the process of reviving following the long covid slowdown. Understaffed, it was probably not ready to serve a meeting of SfAA’s size. But we enjoyed the many hours of parade on opening day of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season. Moving past the hotel, we looked down on marching bands, fire engines, dancing lawn mowers and working horses, among other attractions. Families brought their children and camped out for the afternoon. There was even a tie-dyed dog (poor thing)!
For those who attended the meeting it was a good experience. Nobody dozed during the Awards Session. It featured a well thought reflection by Malinowski Award winner Lenore Manderson. Mead Award winner Michael Crawley told the engaging story of distance runners in Ethiopia. Orit Tamir shared her origins history, which surprised and amused listeners as she accepted the Sol Tax Award.
Orit’s beginnings with SfAA, sleeping on a beach in San Diego during the 1983 meetings, brought back memories of SfAA forty years ago. This was a welcoming time, when students felt as though the organization was truly their social science home. True, the leadership was overwhelmingly white and male, but undergrads arriving by van from Utah (Orit) and new grad students sharing one two-piece dress suit (Jeanne) were comfortable.
Now, in 2023, is this still the case? We have tried to make our leadership younger, more diverse, and more international. But is SfAA still welcoming? It would be interesting and informative to hear from you, by email. We promise to summarize your responses or print your commentary.