The AAI 6 conference image is very kindly provided by Nikki Lam. Falling Leaf Returns to its Roots / 落葉歸根, HD video, 2014.

2017 was meant to be the year of one conference.

I’ve been scarred by November 2016. It was a nightmare of overlapping major convening commitments. There was one week where I convened 4 full days of researcher intensives (ran 3, handed 1 day over), attended an evening AASRN 10th birthday gig (that I didn’t have to organise, thank goodness – all power to Audrey Yue and her RUPC team at the University of Melbourne!), and attended/chaired at the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) 2-day symposium. A teleporter would have come in handy; I didn’t have a teleporter.

This mad-cap week was embedded in a few months where I worked with the fabulous editorial team at Peril magazine to solicit and edit the 10 x 10 collection (Peril special issue 26), prepped for the month-long program of #LTUacwrimo, and organised the programming for those researcher intensives.

It was a fantastic whirlwind on many levels and each event was really satisfying, AND I was thoroughly done in.

So, I told myself, this next year was going to be different. It’s going to be a ‘down’ year, a quieter year, a recuperative and consolidating year.

Now that it’s August, I can say that this has not come to pass. Again, it’s all fantastic stuff and I’m chuffed to be in a position to do them but I do sometimes think, ‘What in the heck, Tseen?’.

Events and convening things

These are events that mean it’s not a 1-conference year:

  • I worked with the AAH to convene an ECR development day at the end of May. I chaired the opening session (which featured UQ’s Graeme Turner and UniMelb’s David McInnis), presented in the afternoon, and had a great time hanging out with extremely smart and savvy people all day.
  • It’s an AASRN conference year and ‘Embodiments and Inhabitations‘ (aka #AAI6) is taking place at the Immigration Museum, 25-26 October. I’m on the conference committee and the event is in the savvy hands of the convenors, Mridula Chakraborty (Monash Asia Institute) and Jess Walton (Deakin Uni). The program’s almost out and I’m pretty damn excited about some of the speakers and papers that will be there. If you’re keen to hang with us and discuss amaze research and fascinating topics, earlybird registration is open till 20 Aug. #AAI5 was one of the most enjoyable conferences I’ve ever been at – ever – and a lot of that was the support and enthusiasm of the members and other delegates. It’ll be hard to beat, but I have a feeling #AAI6 has a chance to do it.
  • #Whispercon 2017 is on in September and, as you can see if you have a quick browse of the attendees, it’s a very good crew that’ll be coming together to talk about a range of topics focused on building research communities and critical sharing about academia more generally. I’m so looking forward to it.

There’s also a bunch of doings that I’m not wearing a convening/organisational hat for, and this includes Jonathan and I (as the Research Whisperers) being invited to present at the CHASS (Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences) ECR development day that’s on in a couple of weeks. I’ll be attending the whole day as the program looks great. Thanks, Divya Das, for getting us involved!

With my AASRN hat on, I’ve been sticking with establishing the Melb monthly meet-ups as a ‘thing’. There are so many things on at any given time in this city, and I’m missing at least 2-3 events every week, so I know it can be hard to make room for a regular get-together. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the group cohere more than before. The meet-ups are still extremely organic creatures and when I front them I’m never sure whether I’ll be having dinner with no-one, just one person, or a crowd of twelve. It’s that kind of thing. I used to angst about it, but I don’t now.

AASRN Melbourne meet-up, May 2017. (L to R) Dee, Stephen, Ros, Grace, Sanaz, Dom, Phi, and Karen.

And, while I’m here, this is the academic writing I have been – and will be – doing: 

  • Completed and published recently is the special issue of Journal of Australian Studies, with papers derived from 2015’s AAI 5 conference. I co-edited the collection with Jen Tsen Kwok (who also writes the excellent Borderless Democracy blog), and you can see the papers at the JAS ‘Latest Articles’ page (please note these articles are paywalled).
  • The Digital Academic (ed. Deborah Lupton, Inger Mewburn, and Pat Thomson) is almost published and my chapter, “Sustaining Asian Australian scholarly activism online”, will be out and about soon!
  • I’ll be writing a chapter later this year about parenting, work/life balance, and notions of ‘academic wellbeing’ for a book project edited by Narelle Lemon and Sharon McDonough.
  • My monthly column at Eureka Street continues on through 2017 – I’ve written six articles already this year and I still can’t quite believe that I was invited to be a columnist. Thank you, Fatima Measham and Tim Kroenert, for the opportunity.

I guess things in 2017 are indeed consolidating. They’re just doing so in ways that I hadn’t expected!