Been there, done that, and … got the T-shirt (MALCA, 26- 2012)

· Austrian Research (general)

It’s the marking season, so I can’t, alas, find the time for a full-scale conference report, but the University of California Long Beach event at the end of April deserves a mention in my first foray into the world of blogging. Another reason why it’s difficult to fill you all in on the conference is that it ran to no less than three parallel sessions for the full two days (66 speakers). The arrival evening of the conference was celebrated at the home of of Dr Karen Proidl, Consul General of Austria in Los Angeles, and her generous hospitality was a fabulous way of allowing us all to meet, catch up with old friends and start up conversations with new Austrianist friends. (Colleagues will be delighted to know that I had taken along the only outfit to wear for such an event. Yes, it was the ‘only’ one, because my luggage did not arrive with me, and British Airways and Los Angeles airport conspired to bring it to me only after I had retired for bed on the second of my four nights in California.)

It’s a bit of a long way to go for such a ridiculously short trip, I know, but the conference more than made up for my travel woes. The papers were stimulating, the discussion lively, and the food was great, too. The local team of Nele Hempel-Lamer (UCLB), her colleagues, and a goodly number of incredibly helpful students, put on a very well organised event, and the audiences were ample even with the three-way divisions. MALCA has recently changed its name to the ‘Austrian Studies Assocation’ and it has a Facebook site, too. Its ‘management team’ put a lot of hard work into facilitating the conference, and are, no doubt, already thinking hard about next year’s event in Canada (University of Waterloo).

Author Barbara Neuwirth and filmmaker Harald Friedl were the keynote ‘bookends’ to the conference. Neuwirth provided a beautifully crafted introductory address entitled, ‘Migration, der stete Fluss der Globalisierung’ and offered much food for thought and an interesting reminder that ‘globalisation’ is no twentieth-century invention. The world première of Friedl’s film Mein Leben als Apfelbaum was the final event of the conference. What a terrific way to finish things off – Friedl’s filmic essay on ageing, relationships and hybrid (Austro-American) identities was mesmerising from start to finish, beautifully shot and curiously haunting, too.

Conference registration came complete with little, themed, ‘AEIOU’ badges as well as a rather nice red, conference T-shirt. I just wish I’d had this the evening I arrived. It would have helped me out with my wardrobe problems and been very much the thing to be seen wearing in California this April…


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