We’re back y’all! Thank you for accommodating our much needed break. In return, we’re giving you one: no readings! In this episode, Brendane and Alyssa debrief on the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association that was held in Baltimore from November 17-21, 2021. We kiki and spill tea on what we expected from the conference (Alyssa’s first!), our favorite moments and panels, our desired professorial aesthetics, and which professors were doing the wobble at the Association of Black Anthropologists’ 50th anniversary reception. In true ZD fashion, we distinguish between critique and anti-blackness in demands for solidarity – in sum: Black folks aren’t carrying you across the bridge to liberation.
In the second part of the episode, we discuss conference do’s and don’ts, particularly around cultivating mentors, how you spend your time, and not feeling pressured to present early in your program or career.
Finally, it was such a pleasure meeting everyone IRL and having the opportunity to share space and ideas with you. Our hearts are full!
Zora’s Daughters Podcast: Episode 6
Co-Hosts: Brendane: Tynes and Alyssa James
Title: Anthropologists At Large: Debriefing the AAA Annual Meeting
Total Length: 01:17:15
[00:00:00] Music Plays
[00:00:28] Music descends
[00:00:28] Alyssa James: Hey everyone! Welcome back to Zora’s Daughters, the podcast where we discuss popular culture with a Black feminist anthropological lens. I’m Alyssa, and my pronouns are she/her/hers.
[00:00:40] Brendane: Tynes: Hey y’all, I’m Brendane, and I use she/her/hers pronouns as well. We are back! Thank you for accommodating our much-needed break chile. We was tired [laugh].
[00:00:52] Alyssa: Tiredt.
[00:00:55] Brendane: Tiredt [laugh]. Today, we are doing something a little different. So instead of our usual programming, we’re gonna to just kiki and spill a little tea about our experience at the AAA meeting which, for those of you who are not anthropologists, is the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference. In non-COVID times, a thousand or so anthropologists and anthropologists-in-training descend upon some city in North America for 5 days and nights of awkward interactions and ethnographic scarves. And the scarves were scarving this year [laughter].
[00:01:35] Alyssa: I think honestly, I think the ethnographic scarf of 2021 was actually the mask. There were some interesting masks with some interesting designs, worn by some interesting people.
[00:01:51] Brendane: Wow that’s such a full statement, you know [laughter].
[00:01:57] Alyssa: So, this year the conference was in Baltimore, which is Brendane’s current home city! So, you know we were out there, out there-ing [laughter]. And this was actually my first AAA and it was quite the experience. And again, we were tired before, we TIED now! So we’re just gonna talk about our expectations for the conference, our favorite moments, and some conference dos and don’ts.
[00:02:26] Brendane: Yes. So, before we get into it, we want to express our gratitude for our supporters. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the podcast or engaged with us on Instagram and Twitter. We wouldn’t be doing this without you, like for real. If you would like to donate, head to our website zorasdaughters.com. We also love non-monetary support, so please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and follow us at zorasdaughters on Instagram or zoras_daughters on Twitter. Also, we find that the way that people hear about us is through word of mouth, so please share our podcast with your friends, family, or play it while everyone is preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Just make sure there are no knives around, you know [laughter].
[00:03:14] Alyssa: Big facts, big facts. Alright well—
[00:03:18] Brendane: So, yeah—
[00:03:19] Alyssa: Let’s get into it—
[00:03:20] Brendane: I guess we should. Yeah, I was gonna say, let’s get into it. So, Alyssa, this was your first AAA, what were you expecting?
[00:03:30] Alyssa: Okay, so that’s a good question. So, I have been to CASCA before, which is the Canadian Anthropological Society. I have been to that conference and that one was very lowkey, very chill. I mean in my opinion it’s pretty low stakes and just from what I have heard from people I really thought that AAA was going to be very intense, lots of important conversations being had and—[laughter]. Not Brendane laughing.
[00:04:00] Brendane: [Laughter] Oh, I’m sorry, I was covering my mouth. [Laughter] Um, please continue [laughter].
[00:04:10] Alyssa: You know, some really important conversations being had. And yeah, I thought it was going to be a really intimidating five days. So, my friend and colleague, we did our masters together, she is also currently in her PhD, and so she drove down from Toronto, and we stayed together. And we were kind of like, alright we’re going to try to stick together, and you know not be too awkward have someone to kind of bounce and play off of whenever we wanted to talk to people. But in the end, it was actually—it was fine, it was fine. I don’t think either of us really needed that buffer and we both managed to talk to people that we really wanted to meet and wanted to talk to. She went for drinks with people, I was having coffees and stuff, so you know, it was really good. How about you? You’ve been to AAA before.
[00:05:12] Brendane: Yeah, this was my second AAA. I attended my first one in 2017 when it was in DC. Which I guess, you know, creature of habit, here I am.
[00:05:22] Alyssa: Okay so DMV. DMV stuff, see I’m learning the lingo.
[00:05:27] Brendane: DMV, I know. Also, I think we have the same outfit on, okay sorry [laughter].
[00:05:32] Alyssa: Oh my gosh, yeah, we are. Okay yeah, we both have on our Savage X Fenty onesies on [laughter].
[00:05:40] Brendane: I just realized that okay sorry.
[00:05:41] Alyssa: And they’re both dark blue, so [laughter].
[00:05:46] Brendane: [Laughter] Okay, so I just got distracted by that, okay. But yeah, the first one was in 2017. It was a whirlwind though; it was like my first year in graduate school. I only went to AAA because Lee Baker told me to go so that I could meet more Black anthropologists because I told him about my experience in my first couple of weeks at our program and how alienating it was. He was like, “don’t worry about that girl, just come to AAA and meet some more [Black anthropologists]. There are more of us here.” So, I showed up and being the person that I am, I knew I wasn’t going to go to a bunch of panels and stuff. I was just like, you know, given my experience with academia so far—and at that point it was what, three, two months, a few Wednesday lectures, I’ll put it like that—a few Wednesday lectures. I was like, hmm, maybe panels aren’t for me, but I did make sure to go to a lot of the ABA events.
[00:06:55] Alyssa: And the ABA is the Association of Black Anthropologists.
[00:07:00] Brendane: Mm hmm. And so, they had mentoring sessions, they had an ABA business meeting, and that’s where the real tea is [laughter] at the business meeting. I learnt that. I was sitting like, “Oh this is lit,” [laughter] because it’s like a reunion of sorts, like a family reunion but then you also have like the business stuff that has to go on.
[00:07:23] Alyssa: Okay, so there was someone who was saying this at the reception. This person shall remain nameless; I’ll tell you later. This person was like, “Yeah, this is like a professional family reunion.” [Laughter]
[00:07:38] Brendane: Basically—
[00:07:39] Alyssa: That’s the ABA reception.
[00:07:39] Brendane: That’s how it felt. In the past years the receptions—’cause we went to the reception this year, together. In the past years the receptions have been, they felt like a party party, you know. And so, this year, I guess because of covid and just everything, it didn’t have the same feel, but I still enjoyed it. But we’re gonna get to that part later. I think that in person for me was the most impactful to go to events where I actually got a chance to meet people, exchange business cards, talk about my project. Lee Baker took me out to dinner—thank you—fed me that night cause our graduate student travel budget is nada [laughter]. And yeah, I think it was really a place where I saw like an intellectual community of sorts. I was very happy about that. This year AAA was hybrid. So, I live here, so I’m like, I’mma just buy a virtual ticket and see what I can finesse to save myself some money. But you attended in person, like a true good conference go-er. How was your experience?
[00:09:00] Alyssa: Yeah, it was—I thought it was really good! I think it felt—I think that’s one of the reasons it actually felt less intense. Was because you could do some panels virtually, you could go to some in person. So basically, the way it was set up is, some panels were in person, some panels were virtual and some panels and most of the lectures, talks, and receptions were livestreamed. I thought that was really nice because there were just some days where I was like, “I really am interested in this panel but I’m kinda tired so I’m just gonna watch it from my hotel room.” So that was actually really nice. In addition to that, I don’t know who decided on the temperature of these conference rooms, but they were cold honey. I had my Northface winter parka, and I was using it as a blanket in some of those conference rooms, that’s how cold it was. And I was just like, you know, I know that standard temperature settings are determined by patriarchy because men be overheating [laughter].
[00:10:22] Brendane: All that testosterone, I guess.
[00:10:26] Alyssa: I know that the reason we were cold is because of patriarchy but anyways [laughter]. But what was nice about it being in person, and of course is—it really was a huge reunion. Not everybody was able to be there, but I think that because of covid and people not being able to see each other for the past year and a half, it just upped the reunion vibes by a thousand percent [laughter]. And so, what I think happens with like virtual events, or virtual panels or talks like that is people will just kind of tend to sign out immediately and you don’t really get that chance to talk to people and ask them questions and follow up. Or discuss things with them or invite them out for coffee.
Whereas in person, you know, you definitely had the opportunity to hang around and to chat with people and introduce yourself and things like that so, I think that was nice. But on track with it being a reunion, after people not seeing each other for a year and a half it was a little bit harder to connect with people because everyone was trying to catch up with someone they hadn’t seen in a year and a half or two years. So, for example, I ran into Deb Thomas, who was on our podcast, who I’ve met before, and every single time we’d run into each other, and I wanted to be like, “Oh let’s grab a coffee,” I was rushing somewhere, she was rushing somewhere, I was on a phone call, she was going to a panel. So, we didn’t quite get to connect but um, you know, hopefully there will be time for that.
[00:12:15] Brendane: Yeah. And I think that, you know, people are trying to connect. If you’ve been dodging emails and calling it the pandemic—pandemic dodge. You know, I may or may not be one of those people. People pull up on you in person.
[00:12:33] Alyssa: Yup, yup. So, if you’re trying to avoid people, the conference is not for you [laughter].
[00:12:38] Brendane: Truly, truly and I learned that the hard way. I’m sure they’re—if you attended—you’re also like, “Oh, yeah.” I think cause there were also fewer people who came so there was much higher opportunity for you to—even if it was a fly by night sighting—see folks. Yeah, we—what did we do? Hmm, we had a roundtable.
[00:13:00] Alyssa: We were busy.
[00:13:02] Brendane: We were busy. We were hopping and popping [laughter]. Hopping, I’m gonna leave that alone, I wasn’t even gonna explain that one. We were hopping and popping. We had a roundtable with other anthropodcasters on last Wednesday, so yeah.
[00:13:22] Alyssa: It was the first day of the conference, the first session. They really just threw us out there.
[00:13:33] Brendane: Damn. It was virtual because I had a virtual experience. And then also there was someone from the UK on the panel as well, so I think this necessitated it being virtual. My reflections about it was that definitely—I had laryngitis, so I was not able to speak, and it was quite pitiful [laughter].
[00:13:54] Alyssa: I did all the talking. You all know I told you I’m not great off the cuff, I get very nervous, I’ve got that social phobia thing going on, but I did it and I was so proud of myself.
[00:14:07] Brendane: You did such a great job. I was just like, “Wow, I did not need to be here.” You did such a great job.
[00:14:12] Alyssa: You were holding it down in the chat though [laughter] you were really holding it down.
[00:14:18] Brendane: Because I sounded like someone had taken like slices of my voice because really, it’s not giving what I was supposed to have gave. So, we showed up and I would say that it was definitely a learning experience for both of us on what kind of anthropological podcasts are out there. For those of you where we’re the only one you listen to, there are others. There are others that talk about archaeology and make it relatable to popular culture. One of the persons on the panel, he is not an anthropologistTM, but he uses a lot of anthropology to assess what’s happening in his country and going on in the world. He also talks into a spoon, which I thought was like interesting but, you know, he’s on YouTube. Youtubers can have that little flair. We, we don’t have that flair in the podcast world. I do think that—
[00:15:18] Alyssa: We have a kind of flair.
[00:15:20] Brendane: We do. We do. We bring a little flavor to something but [laughter] not spoons. So, he brings the spoons, and we bring the flavor, how about that?
[00:15:31] Alyssa: Boom. We bring the seasoning. We bring the spice [laughter].
[00:15:40] Brendane: I’ll speak for myself. I think that will be the last roundtable that I will attend as a participant that talks about podcasting because I feel like that’s not really like—yes, we can talk about it as podcasters but that’s not our main intervention in Zora’s Daughters. Like we’re not here to be a podcast, to be a podcast, right. Like so there’s only so many conversations that I think we can have on a public platform about podcasting as an intervention in and of itself.
[00:16:15] Alyssa: Yeah, exactly. You know, I think it’s something that’s becoming popular. There was an article in, I think it was Inside Higher Education where they were talking about how can we get podcasting to be taken more seriously and all of those kind of things and that’s great. Like we said, this has definitely helped our scholarly profile. You know, while we were at the AAAs, people were like, “Oh, my students listen to your podcast,” you know, “My students love you podcast, I teach your podcast.” And we are so grateful for everyone who’s putting our podcast out there and like to all of the students who are listening and citing the podcast in their papers. And Dr. Laurian Bowles was like, “Yeah, my students cite your podcast.” I was like, “No way, that’s hilarious and awesome.” And we very much appreciate that. I think one of the questions that we got asked on the roundtable, it was about how we combat negative stereotypes and, you know, harmful ideas, stereotypes and ideologies on the podcast. And the way that I answered the question was we don’t combat. As I said, we’re not anyone’s bulldogs, we’re not anyone’s mules. This podcast is for uplifting people like us, people in our communities and of course whoever wants to participate in that by listening is very welcome. But, of course, we center the Black women, non-binary folks, femmes, trans people who listen to this podcast.
[00:17:57] Brendane: Right. And I think there was a moment where I had to get a little clicky clack on the keyboard in the chat [laughter]. Because one of the things that I find interesting too is as Black women we are invited to bring a certain type of voice on to these kind of conversations about podcasting. And what I saw happening was kind of an Alyssa’s answer being—[sucks teeth] how do I say this—your answer speaking from our particular positions as Black women, right, and this like political choice that we make not to do what we’re called to do all the time, which is speak to mainstream life, right, in a certain way. And that being kind of defanged or ignored and said, “Well yeah, like you know, as a white person I too choose not to be combative.” And it’s like, no honey, that’s um, you know, that’s actually not true. We’re like not the same thing.
And so, I had to get spicy in the chat on that just to clarify that like, even if you see yourself as doing the same thing, we’re not. Yeah, we’re not. So, [laughter] that was—that, like I said, was just an experience where I was like, “okay, I think that is a space where for our first AAA together, I think that was a good starting point for us. And hopefully in the future if Zora’s Daughters does come back to AAA as a, you know, representing the podcast and not ourselves, it would be in a different kind of environment. Would love to do a meet and greet kind of thing or like a talkback or something like that. That would be really cool, I think, because we actually met a few of our listeners as well, not just professors, but actual people who are listening. And that was such a surreal moment for me to be like, “Oh my gosh, this person listens and is excited to meet me,” and I’m like, “Hey girl!”
[00:20:11] Alyssa: Everyone was excited to meet you despite the podcast [laughter]. They were just like—okay, so for those of you who are, of course, not too involved in anthropology or in ABA or in Transforming Anthropology—which is the journal of the ABA—there was a AAA bingo put out by Transforming Anthropology and the ABA. It was just a little bit of fun and of course it was, you know, one of these bingos where it’s like things that you’ve done at the AAA. So, you know there were things on there like meet Deborah Thomas, or see Lee Baker’s bowtie, [crosstalk] or listen to a panel about Black feminist anthropology. And then of course, who else is on there but the [purposefully mispronounced] Bren-da-ne Tynes [laughter], as one of the options and I was just like, I actually didn’t see it when I first started filling it out—
[00:21:15] Brendane: Me either.
[00:21:15] Alyssa: —to put it on the ZD page. And when I was checking things off, I was like, “Brendane Tynes!”
[00:21:19] Brendane: Who is that?
[00:21:20] Alyssa: She’s a celebrity. [Laughter] She’s a celebrity! [Laughter]
[00:21:23] Brendane: Who is that? Um, no, I didn’t notice it either until I shared it. And then, I think I just saw it like a second before you sent the DM and was like, “Did you know that your name is on this.” And I was like oh wow, and in my head, I was like the gag is I have a virtual ticket, so I—
[00:21:43] Alyssa: So, six people are gonna be checking that one off.
[00:21:46] Brendane: There are gonna be like maybe six people who can say that they saw me, but I was able to slide into a few events without being registered. So, yeah, that was a funny moment too. I really thought it was interesting. I think I’m always like no I’m just a regular degular girl from the Bronx—I’m just kidding—from Columbia, South Carolina just be minding my business. But it was so nice to like really connect with people and play the bingo game and do all of the things. We went out to dinner at a fun spot.
[00:22:29] Alyssa: Oh my gosh, it saw so—Yo, I was feeling sick the whole week and we went and had this nice dinner. I had the best butternut squash soup I have ever had and the last few bites, my stomach was hurting so much but I was just like trying to get it in. I had to cancel my entrée. They were really sweet about it though, and it was just amazing, definitely. We’re gonna have to go back there so I can get my pumpkin spice crusted salmon [laughter].
[00:22:59] Brendane: Please get it.
[00:22:59] Alyssa: So basic [laughter].
[00:23:01] Brendane: Look, I don’t think that. That doesn’t sound basic to me at all, I feel like.
[00:23:04] Alyssa: No, it’s the pumpkin spice latte of seafood [laughter] no I’m kidding, but yes, we’re getting off track. I did want to say you also had a panel. The panel was fire! And an actual panel; y’all gave papers and Brendane recited the most beautiful poem during her talk.
[00:23:25] Brendane: Awww.
[00:23:25] Alyssa: Cough, cough, she wrote it [laughter]. I was so incredibly moved. And the folks on her panel just had such wonderful talks and the respondent—the discussant who was Anne-Maria Makhulu, so engaged. She was so impressed by the talks and did like a really great job of synthesizing the papers and the ideas that you guys were putting out there. So, I was super impressed, was proud.
[00:23:59] Brendane: Thank you! I will say, you know, Anne-Maria is that girl, been that girl [laughter]. Anne-Maria, if you’re listening that just means that I really like you, and so [laughter]. Cause she’ll be like what does that mean. But yeah, she’s that girl and we have been—she’s been a mentor and academic mother of sorts to me since undergraduate. So, to really just be able to be on a panel with her was an honor in and of itself and to have her read my work was an honor. At least at this stage cause I’m sure my thinking has evolved since working with me as a 21-year-old. And yeah, that poem is actually something that I’ve been tinkering with since my senior year of college, and adding pieces of it, adding pieces to it, taking pieces away from it. And one day, on the podcast when I’m feeling real inspired, maybe I’ll share. I’ll share. I realized as you were talking that you have like never heard me perform before. Probably have never even read my poetry and so—
[00:25:12] Alyssa: I think I did when you did Black Feminist Kitchen.
[00:25:15] Brendane: Oh yeah. Did we? Maybe.
[00:25:19] Alyssa: But maybe you didn’t do your own work that time.
[00:25:21] Brendane: No, I think I read somebody else’s but yeah, I used to do spoken word in college. Like, I was [clicks tongue].
[00:25:30] Alyssa: I hear it. I heard it.
[00:25:31] Brendane: Def Jam.
[00:25:32] Alyssa: I heard it in the delivery.
[00:25:36] Brendane: You know [laughter], but one day, maybe I’ll share. I was so glad that you were there in the audience, the tele-audience to give support, to give your own feedback. And a lot of folks—actually I was surprised at how well attended it was considering it was a Saturday in the middle of the afternoon. I was just being able to really speak and almost sound like myself. So, the whole time I was talking, I could feel like my voice box being like, “Okay girl, wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up, wrap it up.” But I was so glad that I was able to get through the talk and that the beauty of the poem was able to translate across the screen. Basically, we were three Columbia students and Amelia, a former Columbia student, trying to talk about violence in the field and the different registers of that and what we witnessed or experienced as Black women. And yeah, I talked about ethics and Black feminist care or ethics of care and what that looks like in actually writing about gendered writing against Black women. And so, I thought that that’s something I’m still working through my dissertation. So, we’ll see how it comes out. Did you have like a favorite panel or favorite moment in the conference?
[00:27:04] Alyssa: I’ll say that for my favorite panel there was a really great panel on commodities and one of the things I’ve of course been thinking about is how am I going to—to use this very capitalist language— “brand myself.” And just thinking about where I feel like I align, who and what kind of work I want to be in conversation with. And that was—and this is not including ABA panels of course—but that was probably one of the most interesting panels I had been too. There was a professor talking about coffee, someone else talking about the illegal trade of succulent plants [laughter] which was actually really interesting, you know, folks talking about potatoes in Peru and how the demand for potatoes changed based on like the demands from like chefs and stuff. They might ask for these colorful potatoes—was it Peru or Ecuador? Anyways they get asked to put these colorful potatoes on the plates and then they want smaller ones so that they can use smaller portions so that it will look nice on their very high haute cuisine plates. And that of course changes production processes and things like that. And I was like this is where I’m at, this is super interesting for me.
But one thing that I noticed about the panels is just—for example, your panel was perfect. Yours was well put together, you guys were speaking to each other and in conversation with each other in really interesting ways. Some of the other panels it was just like I’m talking about this in this place, I’m talking about something kinda completely different in this place, but the panel is about—uh, I’m just looking at my books—the panel is about imperialism so they would add, “and then the imperial XYZ” in the conclusion of their paper, like [laughter]. and I think what I always hope for, what I would love to see—and you said that this was super nerdy—but I was just like I would just love to see people sitting down, being given a topic, and actually discussing it with each other rather than everyone just talking about their research in these like very discrete ways.
I wanna hear like, you know, what does –I’m just naming random names now—you know, what does Deb Thomas and David Scott and Ryan Jobson—I’m just naming random names y’all—what are your opinions on reparations. Let’s talk about that. Where do you disagree, where do you agree? But then again there’s a question, does anyone in academia actually disagree or do you just slightly differ. Like, “I agree with you, I really like the point you made here, I think I differ on this point,” etcetera, etcetera. So, I miss the days, not that I was there for it, but I miss the days of like Foucault and Zizek going at it or something [laughter] that’s what I wanna see on these panels.
[00:30:30] Brendane: I feel like—yeah, I feel like that. So, I don’t, so the super nerdy part about it y’all was Alyssa was like, “Oh yeah, over dinner,” and I’m like “Oh” [laughter].
[00:30:41] Alyssa: No, I was talking about a Jeffersonian dinner.
[00:30:43] Brendane: Oh.
[00:30:43] Alyssa: It’s like a particular kind of—
[00:30:46] Brendane: Oh, my bad, that is how I interpreted it. So that was me, just kidding, that was all me [laughter]. So, I think that is probably what people imagine roundtables to be but not actually how they function in real life. And I wonder maybe if we decide to do an event in the future—and y’all let us know, if y’all attend these conferences, if you would like to see an event like this—maybe that’s how we structure it. And we say, you know, don’t come with a prepared paper, come with a set of talking points, here are questions, and we’re really gonna structure this as a conversation. I think that would be nice and refreshing to watch. And who knows we might change the game, the conference game.
[00:31:34] Alyssa: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if anyone’s read that conversation—I think it’s between Margaret Mead and James Baldwin.
[00:31:42] Brendane: What? Margaret Mead had the honor of talking to James Baldwin?
[00:31:50] Alyssa: Yeah, it was called A Rap on Race from 1971 and so yeah, I mean something like that would be so cool to see. I feel like we don’t really see those kinds of conversations happening. The back and forth and the challenging one another. It’s a lot more, I speak then you speak, then the other person speaks on panels like that.
[00:32:19] Brendane: Yeah, and then maybe we’ll get a question that pushes us to think across the three papers or question that really invokes conversation and disagreement. Yeah.
[00:32:33] Alyssa: So maybe that’s the nerd in me but I mean there are some people I would love to see have a discussion, debate, in a cordial way of course. And like something where it’s going to be well moderated, not violent, you know, something like that. But that’s just me imagining, thinking out loud. But yeah.
[00:32:57] Brendane: I didn’t attend any panels this time. I was like let me just rest my body and my voice as much as possible given the circumstances. But I did go to—our friend Maya had a roundtable that was like right after mine, so I was like let me log in to that one. And I’m looking forward to catching the recording of our friend’s panel that was on Thursday when it finally is set up online. And I think there are a few other panels as I was looking through the program that I was like, “Okay maybe if they record it, I’ll be able to catch it later, because right now my body’s like, if you don’t stay on this couch, you not gonna get better anytime soon.”
[00:33:44] Alyssa: Fair enough, you needed to rest. You need to rest, and it was being recorded. Yeah, so when I went to this conference I def prioritized the in-person stuff because I figured, even if I’m not—and I know people are like is there gonna be a recording and maybe people watch it. I don’t think that many people who ask for the recordings of talks actually listen to them. But I figured, at the very least I will check out like the main talking points kind of thing and see if I want to listen more to it. But you did also ask my favorite moment and my favorite moment was the wonderful Dr. Chelsey Carter receiving The Gwaltney Scholarship. And that was from the Association of Black Anthropologists, it was at the reception. We were actually sitting right next to each other, and as I was sitting down from receiving my award, her name got called and she was so surprised, so happy. She was like, “What? What? They never even told me I was getting this.” [Laughter] So it was just funny, and it was heartwarming because she’s so, so deserving of all the accolades!
[00:34:55] Brendane: Hardest working person in show business [laughter].
[00:34:58] Alyssa: Yes, yes. I mean, not only was she on several different panels doing a variety of jobs, she also organized this really amazing speed mentoring event that I’ll talk about a little bit later. So yeah, that was my favorite within the conference moment. Of course, our leather gang night.
[00:35:17] Brendane: Gang, gang.
[00:35:18] Alyssa: That was really fun. That was when we went to that nice restaurant. And then, of course, just being able to share space with so many incredible and brilliant people, you know, especially after these two years of virtual interaction. It was really inspiring and affirming.
[00:35:37] Brendane: It was truly amazing, I think. As someone who has made it part of my personality that I don’t leave my house, I was like okay this is definitely—despite the hiccups of trying to navigate a hybrid experience, which I think was bound to happen, you know, no matter how much money you pay for a platform, shit goes down. It was good to like get to the hotel, meet people, get drinks on whatever school’s tab was there. Major key. I’m not saying I did that, but it was cool to participate in getting to know people and catching up with folks. And even meeting new people, I thought. I was like okay; I actually can be outside and enjoy my time and not be just staring at my Zoom screen the whole time. And our leather moment—I had a vision, and it came to fruition.
[00:36:48] Alyssa: A vi-sion. It was visioned. Like the vision visioned [laughter].
[00:36:52] Brendane: It visioned.
[00:36:53] Alyssa: I’m just adding, I’m adding gerunds and past tenses to everything [laughter].
[00:36:57] Brendane: You know, from this point forward, what are words? I think really the vision visioned.
[00:37:00] Alyssa: Okay the fact that we all showed up in black and rust, black and burnt orangey kind of colors without being planned was just like—our minds.
[00:37:00] Brendane: Our minds.
[00:37:00] Alyssa: Our minds.
[00:37:00] Brendane: So, the pictures popped. The pictures popped severely. It was great. Yeah, I just think overall it was a very positive experience. So, I really am so glad that you came down, I’m so glad that everybody came down and we had a good motherfucking time. I think yeah, we said we were gonna talk about the ABA reception a little more. So, this is for our folks who are, you know, can be called Black anthropologists. This is a reception that usually is like a family reunion—professional family reunion.
[00:37:57] Alyssa: It really, really was [laughter].
[00:38:00] Brendane: The elders always have their time to speak, and I love hearing the elders talk because I feel like I’m that person that’s like, “Yes tell me how it used to be back in the day, please.” So, I know it’s not that very different [laughter].
[00:38:16] Alyssa: [Laughter] We also have to say it was the 50th anniversary of the ABA. So, there was a lot of doing it big, a lot of round tables around what the ABA was up to, will be up to and all those kinds of things. There was definitely a lot more space to speak about how things were and the kind of developments that were happening. Like Dr. Faye Harrison got up there, she was talking, she was telling her story. And she was like correcting, um—
[00:38:53] Brendane: I just know his first name Michael.
[00:38:54] Alyssa: Michael Blakey.
[00:38:55] Brendane: Yeah, I was like, I just know his first name was Michael.
[00:38:58] Alyssa: Yep [laughter]. He was like, “Oh, this is what happened, this is how we came up with the name,” but Dr. Harrison was like, “No, that’s not what happened, I’mma tell you what happened,” and he was like, “Okay, you take the mic now.” And of course, Dr. Sheila Walker was up there just looking resplendent in this like red dress long tunic thing and with her short cut hair. And I was just like that is my senior academic aesthetic.
[00:39:29] Brendane: Like what, untouchable and I got the receipts to back it up. She’s like, “Yeah, I wrote this, this, this, this, this, this, and this and this but people are still trying to act like I didn’t deserve tenure. I was like, mmm, not you having a CV longer than most people’s and they acting up and that still be the experience.
[00:39:50] Alyssa: And the, was she the one who said like her professor said, “You should be a dancer”?
[00:39:53] Brendane: Mm hmm [laughter] it’s a shame how shit change but don’t. In the end of the reception, you know, after all of the ceremony, they gave out all the rewards for folks and you know, there’s usually a part where they turn up. So, the DJ had the music going, Alyssa had to leave.
[00:40:19] Alyssa: I had to leave; I wasn’t feeling well, again. Brendane had to get up in the middle of the speeches and grab me the food because I was like, I think I’m feeling sick.
[00:40:30] Brendane: But that was like, it was nothing y’all.
[00:40:31] Alyssa: I appreciated it because you know I would have been too shy to do it [laughter]. But Brendanewas just like—she just walks up, grabs the box and like threw it at me and was like, “Here you go,” not in a rude way of course.
[00:40:40] Brendane: I was trying to pass it to you so, like quickly, so that they couldn’t say anything, you know. Just like, “Here, before they notice that I just ran up and took this food.”
[00:40:51] Alyssa: Oh, I think when people saw me like slowly eating a little bit of the apple, they were probably like oh I see what’s happening, she’s sick. But I heard that the wobble happened. And I wanna know about it. Who was joining in on the wobble, like was Bertin Louis doing the wobble [laughter]? Was the wonderful Riché J. Daniel Barnes doing the wobble?
[00:41:17] Brendane: Riché was doing the wobble for sure [gasp] [laughter]. Pasama—hey girl.
[00:41:28] Alyssa: Hey girl!
[00:41:33] Brendane: —was there. Camee was doing it with us. And it was like an appropriate length wobble too because some DJs play the whole song and it’s like, you know, it’s been a pandemic. Some of us exercised but some of us made being at home part of our personality, so [laughter], so I could only do about a two-and-a-half-minute wobble. I did join in. I was like, you know, I should probably go home but who are me not to live up to my southern lifestyle and not participate. But I was the only one who did the like—I don’t know if you know, there’s like a few different versions, so I did the shuffle.
[00:42:12] Alyssa: So, I actually don’t know how to do the wobble.
[00:42:15] Brendane: Okay so that’s gonna—our next time we see each other, we’re gonna practice that and I’ll teach you both versions.
[00:42:21] Alyssa: Okay, great.
[00:42:22] Brendane: So, I did the one that there’s like a shuffle in the middle of it and people we like “What?” I was like, “Wow, y’all don’t know about the shuffle, that’s a South Carolina thing.” But that was fun, and I was convincing myself that it helped the laryngitis go away [laughter]. But yeah, so there was the wobble, good music going, I think people were in there partying way past the time that I left. And I left pretty early—I feel like you left when things were formally done, I think I left like an hour after you and people were still in there going. I wish some of the elders joined us in the wobble, but they were like cheering and taking pictures and stuff. It felt very family reunion.
[00:43:07] Alyssa: Love it.
[00:43:10] Brendane: For sure. [Pause] So do we wanna talk about the elephant in the room? Which is when we are present people are always hating on us.
[00:43:23] Alyssa: Mm hmm.
[00:43:24] Brendane: Okay.
[00:43:25] Yeah, I think folks were following tweets, probably saw some tweets about folks being anti-Black at the conference. When are people not? When are people not [laughter]? But, you know, this was particularly interesting.
[00:43:46] Brendane: Yeah, I will say—
[00:43:47] Alyssa: You take the floor, because you— [crosstalk]
[00:43:47] Brendane: Yeah, I was gonna say, I’m like, as you’re talking, I’m like, “How do I say this?” Yeah, I think it’s one thing to talk about ethics and solidarity, right. It’s another to actually practice them if you do believe in “solidarity across racial or ethnic lines,” right? And a lot of times I think people think solidarity and accountability in solidarity looks like calling out Black people for not including them in their calls for whatever. And so that was one of the anti-Black things that was happening, right. Like I am of the controversial opinion that Black people do not necessarily need to explicitly say, or call you into our movements, right. I’m of the opinion of like, if it’s Black liberation and we truly believe that Black people sit in the matrix of domination or whatever, and where we sit, if we get free, all of y’all get free off rip.
So, and we saw this kind of last summer with the Asian American-Black American faux rivalry that people were constructing. And what was happening at the conference was this pitting against of the contributions of Indigenous anthropologist scholars and Black anthropologist scholars in ways that was really truly anti-Black because it wasn’t Black people saying anything. It was people showing up to Black women, making comments, and being anti-Black, and saying, “Well, why aren’t’ you doing these things that actually position us higher than you as a Black scholar?” And so, I always struggle when I see those things happening because the fighter in me, the Leo Mars is wanting, you know, to bite back. But the professional in me is like, “Don’t, you don’t got job, so don’t.” No but I definitely observed that on Twitter. And as someone who didn’t go there in person or didn’t really go to various panels, I was like I wonder how this person’s comment was contorted in order to fit this “critique” that you have, right.
I mean cause even thinking about what you said on our panel and how that was contorted. The tweet that I saw which was a complete distortion of what was tweeted from the Transforming Anthropology page to fit a particular agenda—which was the rightful agenda—which is the increased inclusion of indigenous scholars. So, it’s one thing to argue for that and let that be your fight all on its own. It’s another to see Black people celebrating themselves and each other and say but what about us. And so, I feel like folks who are thinking about interracial solidarity, inter-ethnic solidarity etcetera need to be thoughtful about the ways that you are subconsciously and consciously asking Black people to carry you across the bridge to freedom.
Cause what would it have looked like to say “@AAA this was an amazing talk, why don’t we lobby for an indigenous scholar to lead the keynote next year?” Right. That’s a completely different tweet than “you said natives, well why did you say natives, we not supposed to—” No that’s completely different than an attack. But yeah, it gives very hater energy, and I don’t like it. We’re not all fighting for the same piece of the pie, right, like we’re not all fighting for that. But that’s really all I have to say about that. I did hear some quite familiar words being passed around from presentation to presentation. I know you also were privy to some things.
[00:48:02] Alyssa: I was hearing some familiar verbiage that I have said, that you have said, that folks we know have said, in people’s presentations. I know we’re not supposed to talk about this, probably especially not as grad students, but theft is a thing in academia. For all of the ethics talk and the anti-plagiarism talk, there is definitely—there is definitely a contingent of people who don’t present their research or who present particular parts of their research or don’t give everything away until they’ve actually published something because theft is a thing.
[00:48:59] Brendane: Yeah.
[00:49:00] Alyssa: And it’s some of y’all’s favs.
[00:49:03] Brendane: And it’s some of our favs favorite thing to do. It’ the fav favs, you know.
[00:49:09] Alyssa: That’s all we can say before we get tenure [laughter].
[00:49:13] Brendane: And I think that’s not really reflected in our dos and don’ts but we’ll come back to that. Like the dos or don’ts of conferences and when it comes to sharing your work. So, yeah, maybe we should transition to that, our dos and don’ts.
[00:49:29] Alyssa: Yes, alright, our transition. Also, I just want to say y’all, we’re actually pretty much speaking off the cuff, and we did not plan or script this episode as we usually do. So, please let us know if you like this episode, if you like how it’s going, if you’re enjoying the conversation and if you would like us to do more episodes like this, where it’s just us going back and forth, chatting and shooting the shit like we usually do [laughter].
[00:49:59] Brendane: Just not on the air.
[00:50:00] Alyssa: Yes, definitely not. So, our dos and don’ts. My first one that I will say is do look up who will be there in advance, okay. Look up who’s gonna be speaking on the panel. If you want to meet them, you can email them in advance to set up a coffee meeting, or just accost them, which is kind of what I did with Dr. Camee Maddox-Wingfield. She is fantastic, she’s lovely. There were some people I would have liked to have talked to, like Dr. Deborah Thomas, as I mentioned earlier. She was on our episode on reparations, and we just kept running into each other and saying, “Hi, how are you, when will I see you? Okay.” You know, kind of one of those things. I definitely should have contacted her in advance, you know, since she’s in high demand! She’s very wanted. And so, as far as preparing, I fumbled. I fumbled a chat, y’all [laughter]! I approached Dr. Faye Harrison when she had just given the distinguished lecture and introduced myself, and I choked! I choked okay. I was just like, “This was a really great talk, thank you so much, enjoy your dinner.” [Laughter] She was on the way to dinner with people after the lecture so I also didn’t wanna hold her or anything. But, you know, afterwards, I was like, Oh I could have said Outsider Within was so important to me, or at least something like that. I’ve mentioned it before, I have social phobia, my therapist told me so, I’m not just Instagram diagnosing myself [laughter].
[00:51:51] Brendane: Which, you know Instagram works when it works.
[00:51:53] Alyssa: It does, it does. But you know therapists do to [laughter]. But what that means is a lot of the time my mind goes blank when I’m under pressure or when I’m anxious. So, prepping in advance definitely would have helped there. Of course, after, with my [French] I said oh, this is what I could have said. But in the moment, nerve wracking. So, yes, look up who will be there in advance, think about some talking points.
[00:52:23] Brendane: Yeah and when Alyssa says accost, she does not literally mean accost [laughter].
[00:52:27] Alyssa: Yeah, no, I just mean, kindly, gently approach people from the front so that they can see me coming [laughter] and waving. Also, I’ve spoken to her before over Zoom, so there was a lot of me pulling my mask down first for a second so people would recognize me and waving, and then that look of recognition, like “Oh, hi, it’s you!”
[00:52:55] Brendane: Meanwhile I was like, “Take my mask off? For you? No, thanks.”
[00:53:00] Alyssa: Not off. I would slowly pull it down. I would just pull it down a little, put it back up.
[00:53:05] Brendane: You know I was like wow, I was recognized by a few people that I was like you have not seen me with the hair like this, and the fact that you know who I am means that this mask—
[00:53:15] Alyssa: Brendane: you’re famous, you’re a bingo card [laughter] you’re on the bingo card, you’re famous.
[00:53:20] Brendane: Oh my goodness, my heart. Um, I’m like, yo, when I was trying to be incognegro, it was not working. [Laughter] Was not working. Another do that I’ll say here is make sure that you schedule time to meet up with your friends and explore the city. So, bring some non-conference clothes so that you not out here in the streets looking like you sit in front of your computer all day, you know.
[00:53:45] Alyssa: Even if you do [laughter].
[00:53:46] Brendane: Even if you do. And, you know, get out of the building, take the lanyard off, go explore these places.
[00:53:54] Alyssa: [Laughter] Definitely take the lanyard off in Baltimore.
[00:53:58] Brendane: Oh, for real, you don’t wanna be marked as a tourist here for a variety of reasons. But just one night, you know, get out, get out and about. You won’t want to be holed up in your hotel room or your Airbnb, or wherever you choose to stay, doing work all the time. Conferences are an opportunity to network, of course, but I think they’re also an opportunity to feed other parts of yourself in addition to your academic self. My favorite thing to do at conferences is hit up people I know who are in town and plan a dinner. And if these are people that I’m real real cool with, you know, then we’re gonna go out, like we’re gonna maybe have drinks at a bar or go out dancing and like really experience a little bit of life in the city. That’s also why you’re there, to stimulate the local economy [laughter] so do that.
[00:54:48] Alyssa: We definitely did that.
[00:54:51] Brendane: [Laughter] Thank you Amex [laughter].
[00:54:56] Alyssa: Thank you Hilton Honors [laughter] this is not an ad. Um, yeah, especially with those shifting prices on crab cakes, definitely threw me for a loop. So, definitely read the fine print [laughter].
[00:55:12] Brendane: Supply chain issues.
[00:55:14] Alyssa: [Laughter] I think I yelled that at the reception actually [laughter]. Dr. Barnes was like, “oh your gifts didn’t come in time,” and I was like supply chain issues [laughter] I’m the worst. Anyhow, on the note following up with Brendane, there’s also the question of don’t overschedule yourself, don’t close yourself off to opportunities. It depends on where you are in your program, so if you’re an undergraduate versus if you’re on the job market, either way stay open to opportunities. A lot of things just happen because you’re at a panel and then people invite you to do things! People will be like, “Oh, we’re getting a drink after the panel, why don’t you come?” And then you end up having dinner with someone who wrote the book that you are focused on in one of your chapters of your dissertation or something like that. Just like field work, you gotta go with the flow! And in terms of where you are in your program, I can’t really speak to people who are, you know, to folks who are in the job market, as that’s not where either of us are right now, but if you’re an undergrad, you know just start talking to people about your interests, ask about grad school or other kinds of alternative academic jobs. If that’s what you’re interested in. There was an entire panel actually about anthropologists outside of the academy. There was another one about anthropologists in different departments. So anthropologists who are in economics and philosophy departments. I don’t think it was philosophy but definitely like economics and people who are in climate change schools and stuff like that. So, it’s a good opportunity to talk to people about what you can do with your degree in anthropology. And then I think if you are where we are, I think it’s actually the most fun. Maybe not you because you’re writing up now and you had work that you presented and can be presenting. But I think it’s the most fun because you’re not really on the market as such—I mean of course you’re, ugh I hate saying “on the market,” again, so capitalist [laughter]
[00:57:30] Brendane: Yeah. But that’s the language though, how we describe—
[00:57:35] Alyssa: Yeah, that’s just the language so, but for me the stakes, the pressure, it’s pretty low. I can just talk to people and connect with them. And what I think was important was starting to build a network of mentors and people who will become my mentors hopefully as I grow and get to know them better and we connect more. And so, on that note I wanted to talk about the speed networking session that Dr. Chelsey Carter organized. It was amazing. There were like thirty professors, thirty mentors, all in different stages of their academic careers. There were five rounds and you got to spend fifteen minutes with the specific professor related to your work or who you might have wanted to speak to. You could ask them any questions, it was just like very open, very supportive. I met with a couple folks that I had met before and spoken to before, and then some others that I wanted to get to know a little bit. And then part of the deal is that they’re going to follow up with you in the future and then you get some advice. I got some really great advice.
[00:58:56] Brendane: That’s really cool. The following up piece is the coolest piece of that to me. And I think that that is what distinguishes that event from other speed mentoring than that I’ve heard about. So that’s really yeah. That’s really amazing, I think. Also, something, pulling out something from which you said about mentorship as something is a relationship that develops over in time. I think one of the movie stories about academia is that you kind of like stumble upon these mentorship relationships and from that point forward, this person is as invested in you as you are in like them, but it actually is a relationship like any other that takes time to develop and maybe a conference is a place where you do have that initial conversation but then you’re able to like grow that. So, I think that is also something important to note, so if you don’t meet new people at conferences or potential mentors at conferences, that’s not a negative thing either. There’s other opportunities to like meet folks so don’t feel the pressure to do that.
I will say yeah, going with the flow is, well it allows me to make organic connections that I think lasts for years and not just with professors, but also with other students. like you wanna, they say, build your network vertically and horizontally. Because one day, if I ever decide to become a professor, you know I’m gonna have like a group of people who are in that same kind of position as me and were able to read each other’s work, offer feedback, offer support, wear matching outfits at conferences. That’s gonna be a thing moving forward. I wanna say though as a don’t, right, don’t feel pressured to do social events or activities that take you out of your comfort zone in particularly make you feel unsafe. So that is an issue at conferences, especially for those of us who are marginalized due to our gender.
So, if you identify as a woman, in particular, sometimes you get invitations to do things, right, that take you out of your comfort zone and make you feel unsafe. And I want to bookmark just based on what I’ve heard from people’s experiences with conferences and also from my own experience with a professor at a conference a few years ago. To just say, like, you don’t need to agree to every coffee date or drink invitation or any other invitation just because a professor or someone in power invites you to that. Sometimes that might be an opportunity, yes, to mentor or chat. But other times, like I’ve heard of people meeting up with folks after panels and being invited to dates or being, you know, or being put into other compromising situations. And so that’s something that you definitely wanna say, okay, let me gauge this person, see if this is something that makes me feel comfortable that feels edifying. That contributes to my growth. And if it doesn’t, then say, “Well, actually I plan to go to this panel at this time,” or actually, you know, “I have to work on my paper,” even if you don’t have a paper or something like that and try to get out of the situation as easily as possible or as safely as possible.
[01:02:22] Alyssa: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point, and I think it’s important to say that and make sure that that is underlined for folks. On the note of mentoring, I think I should say—I wanna say don’t think that you need a specific ask to reach out. Maybe that’s just me but being first gen[eration] and one of the things I’ll say is that in Canada there isn’t really this emphasis, at least not when I was in undergrad, on seeking out or cultivating mentors, right? So, I hadn’t really developed this skill, and so even if there were people I’d want to connect with, I wouldn’t really reach out unless I had something specific, right, like something specific I thought of, you know, I thought. I thought if I was just like oh hey, I wanna chat they’d be like I don’t have time for this. Ain’t nobody got time for that, right. But then also, dropping in someone’s inbox with a request when you’ve never met them before, that’s not cute either, and I learned that the hard way [laughter]. But I did learn.
And so, during that mentoring event, Dr. Sarah Bruno, she told me to be very specific about what I’m looking for. You know she was just like—well, I’m paraphrasing, she didn’t say this. But don’t just pop up in an inbox talking about, I just want to chat with you because you’re famous or something like that, right? You should talk about what about their work interests you, why they might be able to help you. You know some people, some professors, particularly black women professors, they get these kinds of requests all the time. So don’t take it personally if they’re like no, I don’t have time. I can’t take this on. I’ve definitely gotten that. You just have to find your person, so to speak, right? But for many professors, it’s part of their ethics to mentor students and a lot of them are really interested in helping people from similar backgrounds. For them, or people who’ve had challenging backgrounds and supporting them through, you know, through a program, getting them into academia because they understand that our voices being present in that place, in that space, is very important. So definitely don’t be afraid to let them know something like, “Hey, I’m a Black woman, I’m in an all-white department and I’m writing about Black people, and no one is going to read my work the way that it needs to be read. So, I wanna develop a relationship with someone who will hold me accountable to Black studies and to Black people. You can totally say something like that if that’s the case for you. So, find out what your specific ask is that you want to develop overtime but don’t necessarily ask them to do labor for you in the first email.
[01:05:16] Brendane: Yeah, I think the way that I’ve approached people which has worked—and sometimes doesn’t work, so take it with a grain of salt—is just you read something of theirs and this is someone who’s work changes literally how you approach her own, right. I usually come in with the “Your work is so impactful to me because of XY and Z and the way that I’m thinking about XY and Z. I would like to talk more about that.” And since this stuff they’ve already written, unless it was, you know, written in 1985, they don’t need to be revisited, right? There’s no work on their part and it’s just usually this person is able to help you think more through your ideas through that way. But yeah, just “I wanna chat with you because you’re famous,” you know—You’ve already had a connection or established connection with them through their “fame,” or through their work, it doesn’t necessarily have to evolve into like a personal relationship. Cause no person has a capacity to have a personal relationship with everyone who interacts with their work. Like nobody can do that. And if you and if you try to do that, I feel like that would just, you know, just make you crazy.
One of the things, I guess another don’t that I’ll offer, kind of along the lines of just like being at panels, presenting work—because I’ve witnessed this happen and people have attempted to do this to me—don’t feel pressured to send your papers to people who ask for them. And yes, it might feel like an honor, as a graduate student, if you’re an undergrad, or wherever you are. But know that you are in a vulnerable position because you may or may not have a name for yourself and may not have published things. And it’s happened to several Black women students that I know where they present something, it’s groundbreaking, and pieces of their presentation end up in a cute little journal article somewhere. And I mean not at AAA, but I’ve been approached at another conference where I presented, by a scholar who’s not Black who was like, “Oh, your paper is so great. I would love to read it.” And I’m like, “Oh, uh huh girl, let me take your business card and we’ll connect over email.” But I don’t know. Maybe I’m just cynical and suspicious, but I think it’s harder for us to get our work published because we don’t already have that clout. We don’t have that name, right, where someone who might be further along in their careers might just be able to hear an idea in passing and write about it and get it published.
So, there’s another don’t. Like there might be pressure to share. This person might say, “Oh, I want to have a mentor relationship with you. Your work is so great. Send me this paper that you did,” but that could be opening the door to you being exploited. It could open the door to you having a coauthored paper but be sure to discuss the terms of that relationship before you send, especially any unpublished work to anyone.
[01:08:29] Alyssa: And just vibe check. Vibe check with yourself; vibe check with other people who might know the individual you wanna reach out to or that you meet with or have spoken to. You know, just check it out.
[01:08:46] Brendane: Just be like, “Mmm, not for me. Not for me. I’m good, I don’t like the way your suit jacket matched with your dress. So, I mean we could connect over email.” You know I’m being silly but—
[01:09:03] Alyssa: The fits. The fits [crosstalk]. I’m simply loving it. I think quite a bit—and I have to blame [laughter] these are actually two grad students I met when I was visiting Indiana. They were talking about what they want their professors’ aesthetic to be and ever since I have thought about what I want my professor aesthetic to be. And I definitely know that in my early years I’m gonna be giving like, you know, young professional vibes. But as I get into the—
[01:09:35] Brendane: I could see that.
[01:09:35] Alyssa: Yeah, you know, little like suits but brightly colored ones. And then you know, once I get into—okay, you know who it would be, uh, what’s her name? Olivia Pope, man, in Scandal. Those are the kinds of fits that.
[01:09:51] Brendane: Ooohhh, but you have to come with the wine too.
[01:09:56] Alyssa: I’m already drinking. I’m on it [laughter].
[01:09:59] Brendane: Like you have to have [crosstalk] [laughter].
[01:10:01] Alyssa: I have that kind of wine glass. The wine glass as big as your face. [Laughter] Love it. And then you know as I age then I’m thinking more, I’m more like you know the Toni Morrison big flowy fits with scarves and my like gray scraggly afro, you know.
[01:10:21] Brendane: I love that.
[01:10:23] Alyssa: You like that for me [laughter].
[01:10:25] Brendane: I think I’m, you know, trying to be a hot girl for life that doesn’t really translate to my professional wear. I think I tend to air on the side of teacher in that regard because of my professional experience.
[01:10:41] Alyssa: Fair enough.
[01:10:41] Brendane: But one of these days I’ll figure out my style is either it’s going to be hot girl professor or it’s gonna be teacher. It’s one or the other. I can’t give both. I can’t give versatility in that department.
[01:10:55] Alyssa: Yeah, I definitely—anyways, that’s for another conversation. Our last, our final do is read the room.
[01:11:03] Brendane: Read it.
[01:11:03] Alyssa: Read it like a text. Read it like a book. Um professors are busy. Grad students are busy, everybody is busy. And so, if you’ve sent them emails, then they haven’t really responded, and you roll up on them like. Uhm, okay, maybe they’ll be open to like, “Oh yes, I missed your email. Sorry you know my inbox is crazy.” But if then at that point they pass you off to someone else, or they seem kind of standoffish, just let it be, and definitely don’t take it personally, right. And so even though we read someone work and we think they’re stars, or we think that they have, we have a lot of a lot in common with them, or that they could be helpful to us. You know, they’re really just people, they have lives, they’re busy, they’re aloof. They might have anxiety, and they might just be having a bad day. You know? They also might just not want to talk to you [laughter]. That is okay.
[01:12:09] Brendane: That is the camp I be on sometimes.
[01:12:10] Alyssa: That it is and so don’t take it personally. I mean, unless they’re being discriminatory or anti-Black, or you know any of those things, ableist, etcetera. Other than that, don’t take it personally. Some professors, even grad students, especially women, get a lot of requests for help and support, and they only have so much capacity so. It’s a definite, “It’s not you, it’s me,” situation
[01:12:38] Brendane: Yeah, and you notice these do’s and don’ts don’t really center you presenting, or you have you know being present on a panel and things like that because I think it’s really important for us, as graduate students to slow down the machine of academia that says you need to publish and do all these different things. It’s okay, to attend conferences to really just be there for the vibes and like be there to meet people. So do take your time with presenting because I do think that there’s a certain kind of quality of work that can come forward from sitting and marinating and thinking through things versus feeling this pressure to get your name out there and be seen in the particular kind of way. And I feel like there’s value in not chasing this idea that you need to be some kind of scholar. So, I will say like, yeah, definitely, definitely take that approach. And we—
[01:13:41] Alyssa: Yeah, I absolutely, I completely agree with that. I think one of the things I was told early on in the program was if you publish something you have to stand by it. And what you might wanna say in your first year might not be what you wanna say by the time you finish field work and spent two years marinating on it.
[01:14:00] Brendane: Oh absolutely.
[01:14:00] Alyssa: So, I think that there, at least from what I saw, there are a lot of people who just got up there and was like I did some research I want—I have to say something, so, here’s what I’m going to say. And I think that taking some taking some time to reflect and just chill and like and meet people is good. That’s fine. If you do want to present, maybe it’s a presentation for you to get feedback from people to, you know, have people ask you questions that might push your work further. But I think, you know, definitely don’t put pressure on yourself to present something that is going to change the future of anthropology on your first shot [laughter].
[01:14:47] Brendane: Yeah, yeah.
[01:14:49] Alyssa: the last thing that I wanted to say is I just wanted to say thank you so much to the ABA. I was awarded the Johnnetta B. Cole Travel award. Yes, that is definitely what helped me be able to actually go to the conference in person and I really, really appreciate everyone on the committee who chose me and another student to receive this award. So, thank you.
[01:15:18] Brendane: Thank you and, you know, follow Alyssa’s lead. Apply for these travel awards. You never know. You never know what you’re gonna get and that might be money—conferences are expensive. That might help subsidize your experience. You will receive an award. That’s an opening to a network into a community of people who have. So, for those who are, you know, first gen, low income, like ourselves, like, it’s important to think about how. What are the ways that there are already being made to make these places more accessible for us? And then how can we push back? Because there’s always more room. But yeah, I feel like that’s all we got. That’s all I got for y’all today. We will be back to our regular programming for our next episode. So, thank you all for listening. This episode was produced by Alyssa James and Brendane: Tynes and distributed in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. This season of the podcast is generously funded by a grant from the Arts & Science Graduate Council and donations from listeners just like you.
[01:16:27] Alyssa: Thank you all for your support! If you like this episode, please share it with friends, family, or frenemies! We would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, especially since this was a completely different format. We usually do, so be sure to follow us on Instagram at zorasdaughters and on Twitter at Zoras_Daughters. For transcripts, syllabi, and information on how to cite us or donate, visit our website zorasdaughters.com.
[01:16:56] Brendane: Yes, we love to see the support, we love to see the engagement. It really builds us up. Last but not least, remember that we must take care of ourselves and each other. So, until next time, bye!
[01:17:12] Alyssa: Bye!