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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Conference Badge 
15th-Aug-2010 10:22 pm
The British Sociological Association conference has one advantage over the American Sociological Association conference:

At the BSA, I do not get asked if I'm based in Massachusetts.

Yes indeed. Approximately fifty percent of the time, when somebody stares at my conference badge and sees "Casey Brienza, University of Cambridge" on it, they conclude that I must be doing my PhD at some fly-by-night for-profit in or around Boston. Needless to say, that's always very awkward, and the reality inevitably leads to my interlocutor feeling like a poster child for the Ugly American stereotype. Not a great way to win friends...even though of course I'm American myself and understand why they made the mistake.

(On the bright side, Harvard grad students always get it right. Har har.)

Speaking of being American, I'd say that over ninety-five percent of the time, when they do figure out on their own that the University of Cambridge is in England ("Hey, isn't Cambridge University in London?" *facepalm*), they are visibly disappointed when I turn out not to have a British accent. If I could fake one--like certain people I know who do just that--I probably should, but vocals are not one of my talents.

So if you're thinking that having the name of a famous, "elite" university on my badge is giving me added social traction at the ASA Scene, you would be...wrong.

(By the way, in all fairness to American sociologists, the whole Cambridge-Would-That-Be-Boston-Now? thingie is not unique to them. The same thing happened when I attended the National Communication Association conference in Chicago last year.)

EDIT: And in other news, an pseudonymous opinionator at The Chronicle of Higher Education wishes that academics would hurry up and internationalize, already. Needless to say, I feel ya.
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