Off to America

I’ve somehow ended up volunteering myself for the inaugural blog entry as I am, at heart, a frustrated diarist and will happily ramble on even if no one’s listening…

I’ve had a busy week in my inbox, with several new proposals in on everything from action research to working with children (shame I haven’t had anything on zemiology so I could do a real a to z). Anyone would think the students have cleared off and academics finally have time to contemplate their book projects! I hope everyone is enjoying some summer peace and quiet.

In contrast, the end of July is always a hectic time for the commissioning team at TPP. On top of all those new proposals, with the end of the academic (and therefore financial) year there is an impetus to tie up lots of loose ends, just at the same time that the people you need to speak to have disappeared to a remote holiday destination! While August usually allows us a bit of breathing space, conferences keep us busy with follow up from the conference silly season in June and July and preparation for the next meetings in September. This week I’m going to the American Sociological Association conference in San Francisco, so no rest for me at all!

I’m very much looking forward to going to the ASA. I used to travel to the US often for work in a previous job, so I miss my regular state-side fix and the opportunity to stock up on cheap Carmex, Dr Brandt moisturiser and Converse All Stars. Breaking into the US is also new for us, so I find it really exciting to meet with new people and to see how our books are perceived. The theme of this year’s ASA conference is ‘The new politics of community’ and communities is a strong area for us (look at our Social Geography & Urban Studies subject pages to find more); the conference programme (all 180 pages of it!) looks really upbeat too. There’s definitely an Obama effect, and a lot of papers directly on various aspects of Obama’s victory. I’m wondering if the US is going to feel like the UK in 1997… and what it will feel like 12 years down the line!

I think there might also be a Patricia Hill Collins effect at the ASA! Her plenary at the British Sociological Association conference earlier this year was great: dynamic, engaging and elicited a genuine excitement about opening a debate about communities. Even her welcome message to the conference is enjoyable to watch! You can see for yourself at – the link is on the ASA’s homepage.

So, wish me luck in the States. I look forward to meeting with people there. I’ll report back on my return, or possibly from San Francisco if I’m wide awake in my hotel room at 4am! If anyone has a Levis or peanut butter M&Ms order they wish to place, please do so by 6 August!

Karen Bowler
Senior Commissioning Editor

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