Saturday, December 29, 2007

AHA Annual Meeting: It's A Great Way to Fly

Received yesterday in the Radical's university email account Inbox:

"Dear [Tenured Radical]:

"We are delighted you have registered to attend the 2008 American Historical Association Annual Meeting.

"We are again offering a 'Self Registration Check-In' for all advance registrants and this will minimize your time in line. If you are advanced registered you can use the self registration terminals to print and pickup your badge. The Pre-Registered Badge Pickup Terminals will prompt you for your BADGE NUMBER: XXXXXX. Bring this note so you have your number with you when you check-in. Staff will be there to help you through the user friendly process. "

Yes, this will be so much easier than how I usually do it, which is to stand in line chatting with people I haven't seen for months (without having to worry about printing and carrying an email with me) and then just telling someone my name and getting a packet.

To put it another way -- methinks this is actually easier for someone else who doesn't have to pay someone to stuff those packets. But wherever the AHA can save a nickel or two to put to its various good works, I'm for it.

And speaking of nickels, youngsters: if you are a historian, and not yet a member of the American Historical Association, you should join. Not for the journal -- you can get that at the library -- but because it is one of our major professional advocates for preserving our access to archives. Membership fees are adjusted for rank, beginning at $37.00 for graduate students. This is slightly more than half the cost of a good pair of sneakers.

(Photo taken royalty-free from this site.)


Anonymous said...

I suppose that is an argument for American historians to join. However, I think I am about done with the AHA. $135.00 preregistration to attend the conference of an organization I am already a member of, i.e., to which I have already paid well over $100 membership fees, and then I have to pay a conference fee for an affiliated society and a membership fee for that society (which is actually more relevant to my interests). As you say, one can get the AHR at the library, and given that the AHA often does things that are directly opposed to my professional interests and my political views, I think it's time to redivert the AHA money to a smaller professional society that supports my professional interests and at least doesn't do things that directly contravene my political views.

Grad students: for all of these reasons, I wouldn't join unless you are in synch with the political views of the AHR and/or you need to join for some reason attend the Job Register. Keep in mind that something like 30% of departments in the US are also no longer departmental members! Guess that says something about the perceived benefits, too.

Don't get me wrong; this isn't about price. It's about value for money, which the AHA unfortunately no longer offers.

squadratomagico said...

I have continued to stick with the AHA (and have posted about my own ambivalence in doing so) but I have to agree with gebranntes kind that the organization is fairly parochial in its outlook. I've never had the least interest in attending the conference once I got a job: it seems to me that about 75 per cent of the panels are concerned with the last 150 years of history. And while the articles in the AHR usually are good, and perhaps *slightly* more balanced in terms of field representation, I'm not sure if that's reason enough for a medievalist to be a member of an organization that dedicates almost none of its energies to premodern fields.

Anonymous said...

I belong to the AHA in the years I present papers. I really like it. It's great fun to see people & go out to eat. And some of the panels are interesting. And, the staff are better organized than some of the other organizations to which I belong! That being said, job interviewing is not at all amusing.

I don't like the AHR. Not even the book reviews. The ads are the best part!!

Susan said...

The access to archives argument doesn't work for those of us who are Europeanists or work in earlier periods. But -- and I sometimes think about it when I renew my membership and consider dissembling about my salary -- it also stands up for history in general in the public arena. And I think that even as an early modernist that matters to me. And I think we need that. It's been very important to have the "big" scholarly organizations arguing for visas for foreign scholars, for instance.
And the studies of what's happening in the profession are also useful.

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