ASA Conferences: Guidelines

Guidelines for planning and organising Conferences

In order for the Committee to consider a proposal for the annual ASA conference, the following will be required:

  1. Two named convenors, both of whom must be members of the ASA in good standing, with full contact details
  2. A conference administrator(s), with a clear job description, rates of remuneration, and contact details
  3. A working conference title and a short (3-500 word) description of the rationale underlying the topic and its expected coverage in terms of sub-topics and themes
  4. A venue and some indication that permission has already been sought and approval given, and that discussions with conference officers and catering managers have already been held regarding costs. There must be a written agreement between the host institution and the ASA that the conference will be run on a profit-sharing basis.
  5. An indication of the level of support that the local Department of Anthropology is willing to provide for the conference, with written confirmation of this.
  6. Suggested dates, proposed timetabling of sessions, indicating length of time for presentations and discussions
    NB The timetable should include the following: keynote address(es), plenary panels, a Postgraduate Forum, a two-hour slot for the ASA AGM, a formal dinner, a 3-hour slot for the ASA Committee meeting (which can be held at the close of the conference if it finishes at lunch-time).
  7. Attention to equality and diversity of speakers. The convenors must try to get an even gender balance in panels and roundtables. Organisers should try not to have the same invited speakers in back-to-back ASA conferences.
  8. An outline budget for the conference, together with indications of where financial support is likely to be sought, and how costs will be covered if these prove unsuccessful. A small surplus should be aimed for which helps fund further ASA activities.
  9. ASA conference support is limited to financial support to facilitate the participation of postgraduate students. The amount will be determined by the Committee on a per-conference basis and communicated to the organisers by the ASA Conference Liaison Officer. Support should be sought from other quarters (such as the British Academy and Wenner-Gren). Applications should be made in advance of members arriving at the conference.
  10. A timetable for the submission of proposals for/abstracts of papers and date for receipt of final drafts.

When the proposal has been accepted, the following steps need to be taken:

  1. Publicity should include advertising via journals and newsletters such as Anthropology Matters, Anthropology Today, Anthropology in Action, and websites such as those of the ASA and the host institution.
  2. Booking of rooms, accommodation audio-visual equipment and catering for the conference. The conference organiser is responsible for these arrangements; please ensure they have been finalised at least six months in advance of the conference dates.
  3. Setting of rates for attending the conference, with differential rates for members and non-members, and a reduction for Postgraduate Associate members.
  4. Arrangements for the dinner. This is paid for separately (not all conference-goers attend), and should normally be a sit-down meal with wine, and dietary requirements should be taken into account.
  5. Arrangements for chairs and discussants for panels and papers. Chairs of panels should normally be ASA members.
  6. The ASA Committee invites (and funds) the Firth Lecturer each year, though welcomes suggestions for appropriate speakers from the conference convenors. The Firth lecture will ordinarily be published online in ASAonline. The convenors are responsible for inviting (and funding) the conference keynote speakers/public lecturers. They are expected to pay attention to the equality and diversity of these, and also to try to encourage an even gender balance in the leadership of panels and roundtables.
  7. Liaison with ASA Committee: the Committee has a Conference Liaison Officer on its Committee, with whom you should keep in close contact, and regular reports on progress should be submitted to the quarterly Committee meetings. Please note that it is your responsibility to send these reports to the Conference Liaison Officer, who should receive them by the beginning of each of the following months: September, December, March and June.
  8. Early recruitment of conference volunteer team (usually departmental postgraduates) to sit at reception desks, organise registration, and provide general information and assistance during the conference.
  9. Publication: early contact with the ASA publishers (Bloomsbury) concerning the ensuing conference monograph, which is edited by the organiser(s), and the ASA Publications Officer.
  10. Submission of accounts: Submission of all invoices, receipts and accounts to the ASA should be completed no later than three months after the end of the conference.

It should be noted that arrangements for the Decennial Conferences, which are international in scope, are more complex. The conferences usually last longer, involve both plenaries and separate panels and workshops, and result in the publication of several volumes. Organisers of a Decennial are normally supported by a conference committee and some level of professional conference administration.