I have had the privilege to spend today at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. I was invited by Phil Steinberg on behalf of the journal Political Geography to comment on a plenary address by Rachel Pain on intimate warfare. On the one hand, walking into AAG looks a lot like walking into ISA: there is a heavy book that describes the panels that are going on, a busy book room, and a number of fascinating and diverse panels. On the other hand, my initial experience with AAG was very different than my experience at ISA: here, I know very few people, and even fewer people know me; at ISA, I have trouble walking five feet without running into friends and colleagues who I’ve missed over the years. Also, here, I am the ‘non-geographer,’ as I imagine the ‘non-political-scientist’ feels at APSA or something – a guest in a particularized world.
I spent my first few hours wandering around the conference feeling lost – I could go to panels, and listen to things I hadn’t heard before, and see books that I don’t know exist, have not heard of, and have not read. I started listening to the goings-on with fascination.
The more I listened, though, the more I figured out that this is not actually a land as I originally thought that it was – instead, there are a lot of commonalities between the discussions here and the discussions at ISA – far beyond what the conference looks like and how it is structured.