After returning from Omaha, the most common way I described the Feminist Geography conference to friends/colleagues was that it was “refreshing.” I left the conference feeling energized – for me, a rare way to feel after a conference. Despite arriving in Omaha tired and burned-out after a long semester (and longer winter), by the end of the week I felt a renewed enthusiasm for the last year of my PhD. There are many reasons I left feeling this way. One is that the atmosphere of the conference was encouraging and supportive – an atmosphere that was actively fomented by the organizers and participants. In my experience with the conference, there was a noticeable absence of posturing, pretending, egotism, competitiveness and unproductive catastrophizing that sometimes accompany other conferences I attend. It’s not that the challenges and realities of academic work and life were not addressed; it’s that these challenges and realities were addressed directly, and discussed in conjunction with commitments to keep working, experimenting, thinking, and discussing tough issues. Another reason I left energized was that I felt like I was part of a community of scholars while in attendance. Although the conference participants all do different research, engage with different methods, approaches, theories, types of writing, etc., as a junior scholar in a department that has few others who explicitly identify as ‘feminist geographers,’ the conference fostered a welcome sense of community for me. I also felt energized as an effect of hearing other participants’ reflections on the reasons they do the work they do. Many sincerely shared moments of joy and their hopes and intentions for a variety of things (the world, their work, the discipline). And so, in addition to books to add to my reading list, knowledge of others’ research, new writing practices to experiment with, and tips for time management, I came away from the Feminist Geography conference with some thoughtful questions and words of wisdom offered by other conference participants. Some of my favorites include: “What motivates your writing?” “What gives you meaning?” “Who do you want to be?” “Discomfort is OK – it’s how we learn the most.” “What does your work (or non-work life) give to you (as opposed to take away)?” “Rest.” “Find moments of joy.” And, “Our work matters.”

 

 

 

 

 

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