I was at the first of the new series of InASA (International Australian Studies Association) conferences in Brisbane in late 2008, hosted by Keith Moore at QUT. I remember it fondly because I was about to have my second baby, and got to visit my hometown in all its steamy summer goodness. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the geography of Brisbane’s CBD, and the riverside walks to QUT reminded me of this. The city’s been changing, and I was happy to be immersed in the familiar and surprising. It made me think that I wouldn’t mind moving back to live there. One day. I was never one to flee Brisbane, as so many have, but I want to be in Melbourne for a while yet.

While at this first InASA conference, I realised anew the camaraderie of being in an academic association and a part of its executive committee. I had a lot of fun as a member of ACSANZ (Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand), but I haven’t had the academic focus to make the most of, or be useful to, ACSANZ for a while now. More’s the pity.

Given that my fellowship position had already expired by the time this 2nd Biennial InASA conference was happening, I vacillated about going at all. I’m very glad I did. Cat Elder and her team at University of Sydney provided a very welcoming and well-oiled event in the New Law Annexe at the Camperdown campus. I spent much of the conference wearing my AASRN convenor’s hat, and rejoined the InASA executive after considering signing off from it. It was a tentative step toward consolidating a post-academic period of my life, one where I can continue pursuing intellectual/political avenues – just not as part of my stated job.

My fine time at the Sydney InASA conference was helped immensely by:

  • hanging out with dear old friends,
  • hanging out with lovely new friends,
  • attending a few sessions that really got my intellectual gears ticking (a rare thing these days, I must say), and
  • feeling as if the association was establishing itself and strengthening its focus/clout.

All this was quite unexpected because, as I allude to above, I’ve just taken up an offer of a job in a senior administrative capacity and will no longer be employed in academic pursuits. I have already started resigning from various positions and handing over my collection of professional ‘hats’ to a few people. In general? Too many hats, too few people!