What We Listened To This Year: The Official 2018 AMS::ATX Playlist

In the tradition of end-of-year “best of” lists, the UT Department of American Studies made you a playlist of our favorite music of 2018. You’re welcome!

Here, in no particular order, are some of the songs we listened to this year: 

Janelle Monáe and Grimes, “Pynk”

The second collaboration between the two, “Pynk” finds Monáe ruminating about the black, queer, and feminist potential of pynk as a sensibility (amongst other things) over one of Grimes’s most pop-friendly beats to date. Occurring midway through Monáe’s accoladed Dirty Computer, the song is the emotional highpoint in Monáe’s sonically carving out space for a minoritarian future. —Christine Capetola

dirty computer

Mitski, “Washing Machine Heart”

Mistki’s fifth album, Be the Cowboy (2018), is lush and sneaky, full of happy, danceable tunes with less-than happy subject matter. Track twelve, “Washing Machine Heart” is no exception. “Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart, baby, bang it up inside,” Mitski sings. The song hits on the cruelties of emotional labor, the fact that, for so many women and femmes, getting “banged up” is a requisite component of our romantic relationships. “I’m not wearing my usual lipstick. I thought maybe we would kiss tonight.” The crux of “Washing Machine Heart,” and Be The Cowboy as a whole, is Mitski’s ability to make painful and uniquely gendered experiences widely legible—those who’ve been there feel seen, and those who haven’t see for the first time. It’s a strategy similar to Liz Phair’s on Exile in Guyville (1993), another incisive critique of sexual politics that celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. —Kate Grover

be the cowboy

The Beatles, “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

I was five years old in 1968, when the Beatles released the White Album and the Soviet Union ratcheted up Cold War tensions by invading Czechoslovakia. Of course, I knew nothing about the Prague Spring or why the Soviets wanted to crush it, but I do have vague memories of a weirdly surfer-like tune; it was ever present on the radio, even in my father’s beat-up, rust bucket Chevy Corvair. Only when I really started listening to music, in high school, but especially when I visited a still-shaken Prague as a college student in the early 1980s, did I come to hear “Back in the U.S.S.R.” for the brilliant, playfully ironic song that it is. So, when the 50th anniversary, remixed White Album was released this year, a flood of memories came rushing in. This was something that I wanted to hear and, remarkably, I wasn’t disappointed. The first song on the double LP – and really, all the songs – sounds better than ever. If you want proof, listen to the re-mastered version, and watch the utterly in synch video attached to it. —Steve Hoelscher

the white album

The Mice, “Not Proud of the USA”

The song title is pretty self-explanatory. It’s written from the perspective of a young adult son coming to terms with the American exceptionalism he has been indoctrinated to believe in, responding to his father, who is far less critical of the United States.  It’s a catchy song that addresses generational conflict and patriotism, something still very relevant in 2018. —Brendan Gaughen

for almost ever

Bombino, “Tehigren”

Have you ever listened to Bombino? Bombino is my favorite guitarist alive. Ethnically Tuareg, hailing from Niger, Bombino is the most world-famous exemplar of a desert-blues tradition that Tuareg musicians have been developing over the past three decades. While bands like Tinariwen, arguably the first Tuareg-blues band to breach world-wide audiences, popularized the traditional drone, polyrhythmic beats, and blues-rock licks that characterize the genre, Bombino has added a more reggae-oriented rhythmic approach and Hendrix-like virtuosic guitar playing. Bombino put out his fourth album this year, called Deran. Go listen to his song “Tehigren” from this album. It will give you all sorts of groovy feelings. —Nick Bloom

deran

Zettajoule, “No Thank You”

I have had a deep affinity for electronic music ever since I bought an early synth called a Crumar Orchestrator in the 80s, and so I was super excited to discover Austin’s own Zettajoule and their gloomily danceable “No Thank You,” which has an equally brilliant video. This video is so visually smart and cut to perfection, especially for someone who came of age in the early days of MTV—it really reminds me of videos that I watched back then on 120 Minutes (the alternative late nite MTV show). But it wouldn’t matter if the song’s slightly robotic call-and-response was not so eerily compelling. Sonically and lyrically, this kind of music takes me where I often want to go: the dark(ish) psychic contours of the human-machine nexus. Which is a fancy way of saying it sounds cool. Anyhow, that’s what I think when I hear this wonderful new song, just as I do when I hear older tunes by The Cure, New Order, or very early Depeche Mode. For those who want to ponder such matters even further, I recommend a BBC film called Sythn Britannia, which provides a very intelligent look at The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Gary Numan etc as well as more underground currents in the electronic realm from 1975-1985. Given that I was up sleepless at 4am watching a mini-doc on Yazoo the other day, I’m guess I’m primed to like a synth duo like Zettajoule. I think you will too. —Randy Lewis

always looking up

Ariana Grande, “thank u, next”

In company with the likes of Lorde and Charli XCX, Ariana Grande melds electronic beats, smooth yet quickly transitioning production, and vulnerable songwriting on this track about letting go of her exes and finding love in herself.  The future of pop music is in songs like this one that push on the boundaries between mainstream and experimental. —Christine Capetola

thank u next

Bowling for Soup, “1985”

Though released in 2004,”1985″ by Bowling for Soup became my go-to jam for 2018. In the first verse of the song, we meet a gal named “Debbie” who laments her current state in life. Whenever I felt myself caving to the pressure of oral exams/grad school, I danced it out and reminded myself I’m here to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of dreams and, through hard work and sacrifice, I won’t be lamenting an average life like Debbie (though I fully support her nostalgia for Springsteen, MTV, and snakeskin). —Caroline Johnson

a hangover you don't deserve

Natalia LaFourcade, “Nunca Es Suficiente”

Cuanto quisiera que dieramxs nuestros pasos pa’lante acompañadxs siempre del tzun-tzun de la güira y el latido eléctrico del sintetizador. But the discordance blasting from white supremacy’s wack speakers (why is your bass so low tho?) can have us plodding through every damn day, especially those of us interlopers in an institution more interested in studying us, than us studying. ¿Cuántos son los pasos que nos mochamos pa’ caber en cuartos donde reverbera la precariedad? ¿De cuántas de nuestras vueltas se han apropiado?–para que ahora seamos nosotrxs lxs que tengamos que decir “Ay que bonito bailas — me enseñas?” “Nunca es Suficiente” was originally composed as a ballad by Alter-Latino artist Natalia LaFourcade in 2017, but the cumbia sonidera remix by Los Ángeles Azules was poppin on Austin’s (very few) Mexican regional stations in 2018. While the lyrics remain a lamentation over feelings of inadequacy, the new timing and C-major key produce an infectious beat, resisting the trap of weighing one’s own worth with a light two-step and hip sway instead. It is a defiance and celebration that I wish for us all–lovely, always already worthy folks–now, and in 2019. —Christine Castro

cumbia

Slothrust, “Peach”

Slothrust is a weird, awesome lady-fronted alternative band that I started listening to a few years ago, long before I realized that I share a name with the lead singer, Leah Wellbaum. They released their fourth album, The Pact, in September. On it is the tune, “Peach,” which features an incredible nonsensical rhyme between “jack-o-lantern, chupacabra” and “sick menorah, candelabra.” May it serve as creative inspiration for us all. —Leah Butterfield

the pact

John Prine, “Boundless Love”

John Prine has been on my playlists since I was 13, with his big-hearted, not-too-serious songwriting. “Boundless Love” is on his most-recent and 24th album at the age of 72. Prine makes me laugh, and usually reminds me that the everydayness of frying up a pork chop is more important than a lot of other stuff on my plate. Favorite lyric: “Sometimes my old heart is like a washing machine/It bounces around till my soul comes clean.” —Sarah Carlson

tree of forgiveness

Janelle Monáe feat. Zoe Kravitz, “Screwed”

My favorite song from 2018 was Janelle Monáe’s “Screwed,” from her album Dirty Computer. The whole album is great, but “Screwed” stands out, mostly because its apocalyptic lyrics really capture some of the desperation and anxiety that so many of us felt throughout 2018. The song is catchy and fun, and allows for serious catharsis–there’s nothing like singing along to lyrics like “I hear the sirens calling and the bombs are falling in the streets; We’re all screwed!” after yet another day of terrifying news. It’s a great song, and represents 2018 in such an alarming way. Here’s hoping the song that represents 2019 will be slightly less ominous, although it is a credit to Monáe that “Screwed” somehow still makes me feel happy, even in my desperation. —Gaila Sims

dirty computer

Robert DeLong, “Beginning Of The End”

DeLong is an artist I’ve been following for about six or seven years now, a friend of a friend who came up in the alt/electronic scene of Los Angeles. This track, off his latest EP See You In The Future, remains defiantly upbeat in its pessimism. It’s catchy, forthright, and doesn’t manage to wallow in its nihilism. It provides encouragement to dance our way into the devastation we’ve laid out before us, both practically and metaphorically. It’s a welcome departure from the melodrama of top-40 pop hits while still providing something to move to. —Judson Barber

see you in the future

Kelela, Princess Nokia, Junglepussy, CupcakKe, and Ms. Boogie, “LMK_WHAT’S REALLY GOOD_REMIX”

While too many remixes focus on adding or subtracting layers away from a song, this remix of Kelela’s “LMK” creates a new song from a fusion of remnants of the original (the chorus plus a few other snippets) and new verses from four of her friends. Centering black, queer, trans, and female voices on the remix, the song is a sonic advocation for sexual pleasure on their own terms. —Christine Capetola

lmk what's really good

The Fastbacks, “In America”

The Fastbacks were a female-fronted power pop group from Seattle that lasted through all of the 1980s and most of the 1990s.  The lyrics express an internal conflict between wanting to stay in America and wanting to leave.  With all the unprecedented goings-on in politics in 2018, I’m sure many people also have had a “grass is greener elsewhere” thought, not unlike the narrator in this song. —Brendan Gaughen 

play five of their favorites

Lizzo, “Boys”

2018 was a lot and called for some raunchy fun. Leave it to Lizzo, “America’s Next Top Bop Star,” to get us feeling “Good as Hell.” “Boys,” a single on Lizzo’s forthcoming 2019 album, is a punchy tribute to good-looking men in all their forms. It’s tongue-in-cheek objectification: as Lizzo says, “I don’t discriminate.” The music video, NSFW depending on who you ask, pays homage to fellow Twin Cities native Prince and features Lizzo resplendent in leopard print lingerie (and much less). I frequently found myself dancing around to “Boys” in my apartment, as well as pedaling to the beat in my twice-weekly spin class. My instructor never failed to note the song’s prime climbing tempo, adding that the only “boy” he liked was his son. —Kate Grover 

boys

Organ Tapes, “Seedling”

Released at the very tail end of 2017, it would be a shame to disqualify the sparse, autotuned dancehall of Organ Tapes’s “Seedling” from a 2018 playlist on a technicality. I spent the first month of the year riding the 653 Red River Shuttle, now dearly departed, from my apartment to campus, listening to “Seedling” and reading the renaissance historian Ada Palmer’s near future dystopias Too Like The Lightning and Seven Surrenders. Every time I hear it, I’m on that bus, with Palmer’s books in my hands or walking to it with the book under my arm, a little wiggle in my step. The squeaky synthesized beat rises and falls but never falters, even as Organ Tapes layers steel drum and flute samples under it and little vocal exclamations on top, mumbling “That’s ok, that’s ok, I’m still breathing/I’m just counting on the sun like a seedling,” the perfect song for the weird dissonance of new love in the landscape of ongoing catastrophe. —Josh Kopin

into one name

U.S. Girls, “Pearly Gates”

The funky highlight from U.S. Girls’ most recent release In A Poem Unlimited, this song uses the metaphor of a deceased lady being propositioned by St. Peter at the gates of heaven as a means of reflecting on the ways that powerful men sexually and otherwise take advantage of women. Through making the song a dance track, U.S. Girls make a statement about the quotidian nature of these abuses of power—and also about the ways that collectivity (those harmonies in the chorus, tho) is our way out. —Christine Capetola

in a poem unlimited

Kanye West feat. 070 Shake, John Legend, and Kid Cudi, “Ghost Town”

070 Shake croons “and nothing hurts anymore, I feel kind of free” in the outro to “Ghost Town,” adding ominous layers to the seemingly uplifting, soulful track that may well be the star of Kanye’s 2018 album Ye. At just under 24 minutes, every moment of the album counts—but Ghost Town has an unsettling quality that encapsulates the complicated emotions and events of 2018 (for Kanye and the rest of us). The simultaneously haunting and uplifting sounds of classic soul and R&B characterize Ye, and “Ghost Town” does so excellently with its core hook—a sample from the 1960s Chicano soul band the Royal Jesters version of “Take Me for a Little While,” re-sung by Kid Cudi. “Ghost Town” expresses the radical political fervor of 2018 alongside the sense of doom and hopeless that has in many ways characterized the Trump era. It is a song about a better future, a time of better feelings, a transformative moment—and one that may only be possible through death. It harkens totems of innocence, the desire for an impossible regression, and the sense that we have nothing to lose in trying to recreate those things. —Zoya Brumberg

ye

Lightning Bolt, “Dracula Mountain”

This is an older track, but one that has been among my most frequently played in 2018. It’s been a favorite of mine since it was released on Lightning Bolt’s 2003 LP Wonderful Rainbow. The band, a post-hardcore noise rock duo consisting of a drummer and a bassist—both named Brian—from Providence, Rhode Island, is characterized by their rhythmically chaotic style. This track exemplifies that style and manages to be fun, playful, confrontational, overwhelming, yet somehow soothing in its pulsing bass notes and erratic tempo. 2018 has felt a lot like this song. It’s been noisy, at times frightening, and sometimes in need of a sudden key change. This track in particular, in it’s second half, has provided the energy necessary to finish this marathon of a year. —Judson Barber

wonderful rainbow

Grimes, “We Appreciate Power”

Returning for her first new song since 2015, Grimes wastes no time with her latest take on pop music: grinding metal guitars coupled with pop hooks and lyrics musing over a future where humans and robots must co-exist with one another in the name of survival. I can’t wait to hear what else Grimes has in store for helping us navigate the current political moment. —Christine Capetola

we appreciate power

Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel”

Why yes, we will have three Janelle Monáe songs on this list! 2018 was the year of Dirty Computer and “Make Me Feel” was its clarion call: fun, unapologetic, and a certified bop. It’s also became the unofficial “bisexual anthem” after Monáe released the accompanying music video and opened up about her pansexuality to Rolling Stone. There are a lot of reasons I love “Make Me Feel,” but the joyful representation of queer sexuality in the music video had me mesmerized. It’s not often you see bi and pan folks so celebrated. Thanks, Janelle, from all the dirty computers. —Kate Grover

dirty computer

Dr. Lauren Gutterman Writes for Jezebel about Flight Attendants’ Anti-Sexist Organizing

UT AMS assistant professor Dr. Lauren Gutterman, along with Sexing History co-host Dr. Gillian Frank, recently penned an article for Jezebel about how flight attendants organized against the “swinging stewardess” stereotype.

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 12.34.10 PM.png

The pictorial includes several fascinating images and videos, including the Braniff International advertisement above, that illustrate the cultural context in which flight attendants labored and resisted throughout the late-twentieth century. Check out the article here, and be sure to listen to Sexing History’s most recent podcast episode, “Sexism Takes Flight,” on Soundcloud.

This Friday and Saturday (11/30-12/1): Symposium on Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

This Friday and Saturday, November 30 and December 1, 2018, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice and the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies will host Puerto Rico in the Wake of Crisis: Toward a Just (After)life of Disaster. This two-day symposium focuses on Puerto Rico one year after Hurricane Maria, bringing together scholars, activists, and artists from the island and the diaspora to reflect on how Maria and its aftermath have affected their work.

For more information, and to register for the symposium, please visit the event website. 

Puerto Rico In the Wake of Crisis

Five Questions with First-Years: Taylor Johnson!

In our third installment of “Five Questions with First Years” for the incoming cohort of 2018-19, we bring you Taylor Johnson. Taylor earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University in International Comparative Studies, and her research remains rooted in the ethical, moral, and methodological questions she began asking at Duke: how might one write on and for anti-imperial and anti-capitalist projects? How might we consider popular culture and media as sites of “subversive power?” Read on to learn more about Taylor’s academic background, interests, and her all-important (and quite excellent) definition of American Studies.

1) What is your background, academic or otherwise, and how does it motivate your teaching and research?

I came out of a transnational studies background; my undergraduate degree was in an interdisciplinary department created by Duke called International Comparative Studies. My coursework spanned Women’s and Gender studies, Cultural Anthropology, Global Cultural Studies, and History.  This has lent a transnational or comparative element to my academic research and my teaching interests. Before coming to UT, I worked in independent private schools and Austin ISD.

2) Why did you decide to come to AMS at UT for your graduate work? 

The publications by faculty at UT AMS indicated a cultural history focus to the department and a tradition of examining subaltern cultural representations, which mapped on very closely onto what I wanted to work on – primarily media studies, indigenous studies, and comparative studies between U.S. and non-Western poplar cultural materials.

3) What projects or people have inspired your work?

My theoretical grounding is in Marxism and anti-colonialism, and Fredric Jameson’s “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture” gave me a foundational understanding of the oft-overlooked subversive power of mass or “popular” culture. Mohawk Interruptus by Audra Simpson, an ethnographic project on indigenous struggles to maintain political sovereignty within settler colonialism, had a transformative impact on my indigenous studies research direction. Jill Lepore’s The Name of War provides both theory and methodology for analyzing depictions of brutal warfare from separate populations.

4) What projects do you see yourself working on at UT?

To foreground: my research will always be on anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, or decolonizing projects. I’m very interested in comparative media studies, with a specific emphasis on media productions by subordinate populations usually excluded from the dominant popular culture, and the ideological influence of that media on the populaces that encounter it.

My primary focus for research and academic background has been on indigenous rights reclamation in North America through forms of media like independent films and record labels, Vimeo, and Soundcloud. I have a particular focus on social movements of the last decade, such as Idle No More, Standing Rock, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement.

I’m also very interested in a comparative project examining depictions of the atomic bomb in Japanese animations starting in the 1980s, such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and the corresponding but less overt references to atomic warfare in popular American cartoons of the 21st century, such as Steven Universe and Adventure Time.

5) What are your goals for graduate school? What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?

I hope to get a further research grounding from my coursework and then to successfully complete the research projects I would like to focus on. I hope to get experience submitting to publications and presenting my research. My ultimate goal is to teach in a higher educational setting, so I look forward to gaining experience instructing and interacting with students.

Bonus Question:  In your own words–what is American Studies?

American Studies is for me an interdisciplinary project of subverting and critiquing the dominant cultural experience of Americanness, as well as exploring the silenced and under-examined imperial and colonial projects done in the name of “America”.

Du Bois @ 150 Symposium: Thursday, 11/29

In honor of W.E.B. Du Bois’ 150th birthday, the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies will be hosting a symposium exploring the life and work of one of the most important black intellectuals of the 20th century, W.E.B. DuBois, this Thursday, 11/29.

181115_WarfieldCenterSymposium_DuBois_Poster_ForCC

The event will feature lectures in the Harry Ransom Center’s Prothro Theatre from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M., by Dr. Annette Gabriel-Joseph (Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Dr. David Roediger (Foundation Distinguished Professor and department chair in American Studies, University of Kansas), and Dr. Claudrena Harold (Professor of African American and African Studies and History, University of Virginia).

The lectures will be followed by a roundtable discussion between the three lecturers and UT professors Dr. Stephen Marshall and Dr. Jennifer Wilks, held in the Gordon-White Building’s Multipurpose Room (GWB 2.206) from 4:30 – 6 P.M.

To learn more about the event, the lecturers, and the specific topics of each lecturers’ speech, please visit the Warfield Center’s event page for the symposium.

What We Did in Atlanta: An ASA/NWSA Recap

From November 8-11, graduate students and professors from the UT Austin American Studies Department presented papers and chaired panels at the American Studies Association and National Women’s Studies Association meetings. Read on for our reflections on the conferences and to find out what we did in Atlanta. 

Gaila Sims

I got to shake Kathleen Cleaver’s hand! My sister was on a panel with the iconic former Communications Secretary for the Black Panther Party as part of an ongoing project to process Ms. Cleaver’s personal photography archive, and I got to meet her beforehand. She was funny and no-nonsense and told us some very fascinating stories about giving birth to her first son while in exile in Algeria in 1969. It was pretty magical.

 

Sims Cleaver Panel ASA

ASA Presidential Session, “Visualizing Revolution: Building the Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver Family Archive.” Photo courtesy of Gaila Sims.

 

Andi Remoquillo

The annual conference for the National Women’s Studies Association is known by many for cultivating a space where scholars, activists, both or neither can come together and re-instate new—and old—feminist solidarities. The 2018 NWSA conference in Atlanta, Georgia was no exception. This was my second year attending and presenting at NWSA, and similar to my first year, I left feeling reinvigorated, re-charged, and re-inspired to pursue the feminist work that I have committed myself to, even before entering graduate school. Similar to so many other conference attendees, I was reminded of the importance and power behind the work that I do for my own community. This year’s conference was organized around the theme of imagining feminist futures of freedoms, and the variations of presentations truly illustrated just how multifaceted and exciting the future of feminist activism and scholarship is. One of the most memorable moments was when keynote speaker Angela Davis praised the diverse faces she saw throughout the hundreds of audience members—for her, this was so indicative of the rebirth of feminist politics in the wake of a socio-political predicament in the U.S. framed by anti-black, anti-immigrant, and anti-woman sentiments. Davis, as well as the other keynote speakers whose activism was rooted in the 1960s, recognized the power of organization and solidarity across multiple identity-lines. By recognizing the audience members in this way, it was as if the speakers were re-directing the gaze to make the claim, “we are here for you, as you are here for us.” 

 

NWSA 2018

Kate Grover, Leah Butterfield, and Andi Remoquillo at NWSA. Photo courtesy of Andi Remoquillo.

 

Janet Davis

After chairing and commenting on a terrific ASA panel exploring intersectional considerations of multispecies justice, fellow panelist (and UT AMS MA alumna) Sherri Shue and I spent a wondrous evening at the Georgia Aquarium watching four juvenile whale sharks, manta rays, beluga whales and other charismatic megafauna float in the blue twilight.

 

Kerry Knerr

Atlanta has one of the last remaining Trader Vic’s in the world, once the favorite restaurant of Rita Hayworth, my Houstonian grandparents (janitor/nurse), and Richard Nixon. Donald Trump shut down the last Trader Vic’s in New York City because it had “gotten tacky”—everyone hates their landlord. Now, there are more in Abu Dhabi than there are in North America. What does the tiki bar in Riyadh serve?

 

Trader Vics Atlanta

A display case at Trader Vic’s. Photo courtesy of Kerry Knerr.

 

Sarah Carlson

I was all nerves the 24 hours leading up to our session. As the chair, I’d been in touch with all of our participants, from the initial cold-contact email to the last-minute questions about printing on site. We knew as much about each other as our brief bios shared and we were to have a 90-minute conversation at 8 am on a Saturday. As happens with broad and generous session topics, the round-table was a somewhat eclectic mix that posed a bit of a head-scratcher: would this conversation make any sense? Yet, unbeknownst to me, all four of us had various, independent networks that somehow intersected: some in the digital humanities realm, others in museum studies, and yet more in pedagogy. Over breakfast after our session, we all followed each other on Instagram.

The serendipity of conferences reveals surprising relationships, and this is especially so at ASA where unusual presentations often have an unexpected and remarkable relevance. Similarly, those who attended the session and the questions they posed were ones I never expected, which was a good lesson for why we actually go to conferences. It’s not to present what we already know, but to be reminded that we don’t know what we don’t know and that’s what makes these projects interesting.

 

The Vortex Little Five Points

The Vortex in Little Five Points. Photo courtesy of Kerry Knerr.

 

Kate Grover

Here are some things I learned while attending NWSA and ASA in Atlanta:

  1. In Atlanta, as in Austin, no one is prepared for freezing temperatures
  2. The people in Little Five Points are cooler than I’ll ever be 
  3. When you combine multiple tater tots into one giant tater tot, it’s called a tater cake 
  4. Visiting a tiki bar with a tiki scholar is a joy 
  5. If your Airbnb is in an “urban pioneering” building from 1970s, you’ll go through three layers of security and probably take some interesting selfies 
  6. Receptions are life-savers (see no. 3)
  7. Old feminists rock 
  8. In a pinch, a paper towel can be a coffee filter 
  9. Presenting at two conferences in one weekend is exhilarating, and also a lot
  10. My colleagues are brilliant (but I already knew that)

 

NWSA plenary 2

NWSA Friday plenary speakers (left to right) Angela Davis, Bernadine Dohrn, Ericka Huggins, Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Madonna Thunder Hawk and moderator Robyn C. Spencer. Photo courtesy of Kate Grover.

 

Nick Bloom

Reflecting on this year’s ASA, I am only able to think about the bravery of all of the people I knew who got behind microphones in front of rooms full of strangers inside of what appeared to be the tallest building in Atlanta and said, “I have a monumentally important question about our social world.” It’s a strange place to ask monumentally important questions about the social world, and it is too bad there aren’t more places, less nerve-wracking places to ask such questions. The questions people were asking were urgent, about catastrophe, love, struggle, and the meaning of social existence, not mere intellectual exercises, and I hope we keep feeling brave enough to ask these personally important, righteous questions again and again, in public and in private places.