The expensiveness of conferences

I was just finding out how much it would cost to attend the European Association of Social Anthropologists conference this summer, and the costs and fees run something like this:

Accommodation €105 (€35/night * 3)
Student conf. registration €90
Obligatory EASA membership €50
Roundtrip airfare to Dublin €150
Very cheap meals from restaurants €45 (€15/day * 3)
Total €440

By contrast, you could rent a room in Paris for an entire month (my rent is €400) for less than the sum cost of these three days. Yes, a month’s rent: which, from a student perspective, is a rather amazing sum of money. It’s enough to make one think that major academic conferences like this are structured around a sort of tacit class exclusion. They do, of course, have some participant funding available, but it apparently comes to €20,000 for a conference that’s supposed to attract more than a thousand people.

2 thoughts on “The expensiveness of conferences

  1. Try some conferences in information science. CHI, the main conference on human-computer interaction, has registration fees upwards of $400 _for students_. Other major social science conferences such as 4S (the society for social studies of science) have lower registration fees (say $150 or so) but take place at major hotels, like Hilton’s and Hyatt’s, with room charge rates of $150/night or more. It definitely limits who can come, and it’s one reason I don’t participate in the CHI community anymore. See danah boyd’s commentary on the matter:

  2. Yeah, I have no doubt that this one is relatively reasonably priced compared to other conferences out there. I mean, most small conferences (that I know of) are free and usually locally funded by departments, so it’s not like one can’t avoid the expensive conferences to a significant degree and still remain part of disciplinary discourse. On the other hand, to get an anthropology job it basically requires going to the professional association meetings (both to present papers and to have interviews); the pricey megaconferences do seem to acquire an odious normative quality.

    Danah’s comments seem right on to me; the only thing I’d add is that I find this kind of practice problematic not only (as she suggests) because it biases knowledge production, but also because it just seems unjust to filter people out based on their financial means.

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