I made a brief comment, which I now regret because it implies that I believe that it’s ok to ‘steal a conference’. I do not believe that it’s ok to steal a conference. The people who organise conferences do so for absolutely no reward. It is exhausting, debilitating, and takes over your life. The only thing you get back is that you’ve tried to make a big project – something collective – happen. I’m not involved in BISA but my guess is that any and all ‘revenue’ goes straight back into the conference. It most certainly doesn’t go back to the people organising them. There is this ‘us’ and ‘them’ thing going on in the post and it offends me that my colleagues are being positioned as the ‘them’. They are tired, overworked and overstressed academics trying to make something happen. And any opportunities to be collective – including, yes, conferences – are so crucially important, especially right now, when we’re already under such pressure to divide and individualise.
We urgently need to do more to support emerging scholars, and to recognise much more openly that there is complete inequality of opportunity between those of us who got jobs pre ‘crisis’ and post it. But if we turn on each other, and nip and bite over the scraps, we will eat ourselves up.