Monday, September 06, 2010

APSA Wrap-Up

I got back from another APSA annual meeting, this year in Washington DC, late Saturday night. It was a great few days, as they almost always are. Perhaps someday such conferences will distract or bore or tire me, but for now, they still jazz me up, leaving me in a swirl of ideas and ambitions and reflections. Herewith, a quick wrap-up:

Bloggers seen:

Six years on, and with the blogging world much changed and probably on a definite downhill slide, I still love to put faces to names. This year, I was able to spend some time chatting and/or taking lunch with Jacob Levy, J. Nelson-Seawright, Laura McKenna, and Camassia (though at that latter gathering the hoped for appearance of Eve Tushnet and Lee McCracken didn't come about). I also ran into Patrick Deneen, Mark Mitchell, and passed Daniel Drezner and Chris Lawrence in panels and in the hallways. Apparently, there was a major poli-sci/journalist/blogger panel which I completely missed, so there went my chance to see a lot of famous online names in the flesh. Oh well. You can't see everyone.

Publishers spoken to:

Good, if brief conversations, with folks from Lexington Books, Routledge, Princeton, and the University of Kentucky. I'm working on a book with another scholar dealing with various non-Western and comparative theoretical approaches to the state of nature debate in political philosophy. Fascinating, no? Well, we're pleased with it. We'll see where it goes from here.

Workshops run:

I was in charge of the nearly-yearly "Comparative Political Theory" working groups this APSA. The attendance wasn't what I would have liked, but new contacts were made, and some good discussions about research agendas and teaching approaches were had. And that's what such meetings are all about, no?

Panels attended:

Two excellent and one very good panel stand out: a thought-provoking and eye-opening discussion of Chinese and Confucian traditions of constitutionalism (good preparation for a conference I'll be attending in Hong Kong this December), a fascinating set of comments on an upcoming--and must-by--book by Robert Putnam and David Campbell (best line from which came from Bill Galston: "Americans don't attend church as often as they say they do, and the French attend church more often than say they do; this is because most Americans feel guilty when they don't go to church, while most French feel guilty when they do"); and a wide-ranging set of papers talking about the application of Alexis de Tocqueville to numerous problems and situations (oh--and another blogger: I finally met Susan McWilliams there too).

Finally, books bought:

As always, I didn't have enough money to get everything I wanted, but it's always good to come home with must-buy-soon list. As it was, I ended up with a couple of classics, some new scholarship, some popular stuff, some deeply discounted on-sale stuff, and one freebie (it was a gallery copy).

The Limits of Power, Andrew J. Bacevich
The Communitarian Constitution, Beau Breslin
Bad Samaritans, Ha-Joon Chang
Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew B. Crawford (a book I've written about before, but didn't own a copy of)
Integral Pluralism, Fred Dallmayr (because I buy everything by Fred)
Constituent Moments, Jason Frank
Lament for a Nation, George Grant
The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It, Richard Hofstadter
Debating Moral Education, Elizabeth Kiss and J. Peter Euben, eds.
What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?, Kevin Mattson (read this one on the flights home: a great book on the late 1970s, Jimmy Carter, and a crucial missed opportunity for political and moral change and leadership, the specific topic of which I've blogged about several times before)
The Mind and the Market, Jerry Z. Muller
Bob Dylan in America, Sean Wilentz
1688: The First Modern Revolution, Steven Pincus

What I wasn't able to get, but now really want to, include: Sagehood, Stephen Angle; The Eyes of the People, Jeffrey Green; The Making of the Political, Leigh Jenco; The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, Zeev Sternhell; Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, Tristram Stuart; and, as mentioned above, American Grace, Robert Putnam and David Campbell. Anyone who happens to have access to free or promotional copies of any of the above should feel free to send them to me immediately.


Bob said...

Totally lightweight comment on my part Russell, but at $64 a copy I think I will pass on 'Sagehood' - even though it might change my thinking (or not!)

Matt said...

Funny. I ended up staying in the Omni just after the APSA, which I only knew was there because of the remains of the book display, so I could go see BSU beat Virgina Tech. Not as intellectual, but certainly louder and probably more fun.

Hector said...

Re: "Americans don't attend church as often as they say they do, and the French attend church more often than say they do; this is because most Americans feel guilty when they don't go to church, while most French feel guilty when they do")

Fascinating. It doesn't surprise me that Americans exaggerate their church attendance, but it had never occurred to me that French people and other Western Europeans (as distinct from, say, people in Soviet Russia or modern China) might actually _understate_ their religiosity. I was just commenting the other day to someone that I dislike the sort of surveys where people self-report their religious, moral or political values- we often answer surveys less than perfectly honestly, and much of America's 'religiosity' seems to me to be a mile wide and an inch deep.

Do you have any hard numbers on the percentage of French people (or, for that matter, Swedes or English) who actually _do_ go to church services?