With the ACRL 2017 papers/panels/workshops deadline upon us, I am rushing to figure out if there are any last flourishes I want to put on the few proposals I’m involved with this year and what else I might want to rush into the queue in case I still want to talk about it in a year. Which has me thinking about what has oddly turned out to be one of the hardest parts: selecting an appropriate conference tag. The ACRL national conference is always one of my favorites. Great, thoughtful speakers (usually), a chance to see colleagues from all over the country, sessions that (almost) always engage me. But I always have this issue with the conference tags. Meant to “stimulate your thinking” and “position your proposal,” the tags have all the problems of a controlled vocabulary: they are rich and productive of thought and its organization, but are at the same time restrictive and gatekeeper-y and representative of a dominant ideology that doesn’t recognize itself to be such. These tags tell us what to think about, and the fact that they’re all about business-as-usual is something work marking.
Most of what I’m thinking about these days takes the profession itself as an object of analysis, whether in the ways it produces inequalities as a core and originary act or in the ways our research reifies the quantitative, instrumentalist frameworks so many of us want to resist. So, what’s my conference tag? I’ve been putting everything under “Administration, management, and research,” but I’d love a tag for “Power, inequality, and resistance.” Maybe next time.
In the meantime, my fingers are crossed! It is always so hard to get into this conference, and my track record is not great. I’ll be doing some incantations between now and January. See you there!