Thursday, 11 September 2008

ASN Annual meeting minutes

Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) Meeting

Saturday 6 September 2008 14.15-16.00

Thirty-four ASN members present

Uri Gordon facilitated the meeting

Preliminaries to the meeting

Ruth Kinna acted as note taker

Patrick Turner provided live written documentation of the discussion

It was agreed to conduct the meeting by consensus decision making and the processes were discussed.

An agenda had been circulated and copies were passed around the group. Three additional items were suggested:

The possibility of an anarchist fringe at future conferences

The development of behaviours and practices discussed at the listening panel in future conferences

It was also suggested that an attendance list be circulated.

It was agreed to consider the idea of the fringe in the discussion of the annual conference and the issues raised in the listening panel in item 6, the discussion of the ASN. The list was circulated.

1. ASN report

Alex Prichard outlined the history of the group and referred new participants to the website for full information. There was a discussion of the aims of the group and the need to encourage participation from individuals outside academia. The agreed formulation of aim was: to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between researchers – students, academics and independent scholars - and to promote scholarly research into any aspect of anarchism.

Alex reported that membership (i.e. the email list) was now 100 and presented a brief financial report. It was not possible to give an accurate statement of current funds since conference accounting was still in progress. However, it was anticipated that the ASN would be in credit once the accounting was complete.

Alex explained that the journal Anarchist Studies was run independently of the ASN but was affiliated to it.

There was a reminder that members of the ASN were not required to be members of the Political Studies Association (PSA), but that they were encouraged to join it [details at].

Finally, Alex explained the purpose of the meeting was to consider a programme of activity for the coming year. The idea of a second conference was mooted, but no decision on this was taken. Thanks were expressed to the organisers of this year’s conference.

2. Sponsorship of an Anarchist Film Conference

Alex spoke on behalf of Mitzi Waltz to propose the funding a stand alone workshop on anarchism and film, building on the success of the Projectile Film Conference. The funding would be earmarked to enable ASN members to travel to the conference.

The proposal was to submit costings to the ASN by the end of December and for the group to consider the detailed proposal by email.

After an objection that other proposals might be compromised by a decision at this stage, it was agreed to postpone the decision until all bids had been considered.

3. Religious anarchism working group

Alex spoke on behalf of Alex Christoyannopoulos to propose the establishment of a discrete section on the ASN website for a religion and anarchism working group. There were no financial implications. After some clarification of purpose, this was agreed.

4. Anarchism and Marxism joint conference

Alex outlined a working proposal to organise a possible conference or one-day workshop examining the relationship between anarchism and Marxism, drawing together scholars working in both fields.

It was agreed that the proposal was not at a sufficiently developed point of planning to discuss further but that there were no objections in principle.

At the conclusion of this item, it was agreed that the proposal for a workshop be taken forward on the agreed terms to the ASN list.

5. PSA annual conference

Alex had circulated a call for papers and emphasised the importance of maintaining an ASN presence at the conference and that one of the core purposes of the group was to fund attendance. All members were encouraged to consider the existing call and possible alternative panel proposals.

Alex also drew attention to the specialist group guest speaker competition. There was some discussion of funding ‘celebrity’ speakers and the need to ensure that proposals for guest speakers were designed to facilitate the attendance of individuals who might not otherwise be able to travel to PSA conferences.

It was also proposed that air travel would not be funded by the ASN. It was agreed to defer discussion of this proposal.

Niall Scott drew attention to the possibility of participation at the Association of Social and Legal Philosophy. A call for papers would follow.

ASN Fringe

The proposal was to create parallel spaces alongside the formal conference presentations at any future meetings to facilitate informal contacts and exchanges. The proposal was agreed, but as key feature rather than a fringe. A fuller discussion of future conference planning is summarised under item 7.

Proposal on air travel

There was extended discussion of the issues. It was agreed:

  • That a note would be put on the ASN site to emphasise the need for members to find sustainable means of transport
  • That the ASN would not in principle rule out funding of air travel but that applications for support would be scrutinised on a case-by-case basis and that funding would be granted where a case on financial, geographical and legal grounds was made.
  • That ASN members would be encouraged to organise activities locally to minimise the need for intercontinental air travel.

It was also agreed that any future ASN events would be organised with a view to minimising environmental impact.

7. Discussion of the ASN and debrief on the conference

There was an extended discussion of the relationships between ASN members from within and outside academia; about the inclusiveness of the group, of the conference and the publicity given to the conference. The issues all revolved around the need for inclusiveness. There was no disagreement about this and the conference organisers outlined the attempts that had been made to encourage wide participation in the conference. Members were invited to make proposals to extend and improve these developments, to encourage more open discussion and exchange at conference and to overcome the difficulties posed by academic conventions and habits.

Gwendolyn Windpassinger summarised the issues arising from the listening panel. There were two main issues: the presence and participation of women at the conference and the need for confidence building measures in the conduct of sessions.

Anthony McCann invited members to access his blog ‘re-imagining academic conferences’

A number of useful suggestions were made:

  • Open with an introductory plenary to discuss the conduct and aims of the conference.
  • To provide tips to chairs on the running of sessions (to help facilitate discussion)
  • To convene in non-academic spaces and environments: eg. the climate camp, the knowledge lab.
  • To provide space between presentation and question and answer sessions in order to allow time for individual reflection and/or circular discussion.
  • To encourage discursive (not necessarily consensual) practices and behaviours and to reduce conflict and antagonism by developing agreed practices at the start of sessions.
  • To include a collective conference debrief or space for reflection/contemplation.
  • To be pro-active in encouraging women’s participation and in particular to consider what provisions might be made (in terms of participant-relationships) to help confidence building.
  • To ensure that calls for participation continue to highlight the possibility of non-paper formats.
  • To desist from habitual applause.

The meeting closed. Thanks were expressed (with applause) to Veggies who had provided the catering for the conference.