Saturday, January 06, 2007


The Political Thought Conference, held in St Catz, is a somewhat strange affair. It isn't widely advertised, and seems to run on similar secretive semi-formal lines to David's Nuffield seminar. Despite having an AGM, there's no organisation as far as I'm aware, simply the group of people who have no structure or organisation beyond this conference.

The papers I've seen have mostly been pretty good, and the conference also gives plenty of chance to meet people. Since there are few graduates, we've mostly been banded together, so as not to distract more important people from meeting other more important people. Nonetheless, I have had chance to speak to several people I knew, extract some useful leads from Alan Hamlin and Adrian Blau, and be part of a lengthy chat around Quentin Skinner in the bar last night.

Top lines of the conference (that I recall):

"I will not explain what I mean by 'explain'" - Alan Hamlin

"This is a controversial claim, so all I will say in support of it is that it is true" - Quentin Skinner

"Maybe the [bar] prices will be lowered for the conference" - Sarah


  1. I think it's a slightly different kind of thing to David's seminar: that (as I understand it) is a straightforwardly private affair; it's his seminar, and he'll invite you to it if he'd like you to be a part of it. The Oxford Political Thought conference, by contrast, is open to anyone who has a job teaching or researching political thought (very broadly defined) and who wants to be a part of it.

    The main job of the annual business meeting is to fix the details of the following year's conference, and the conference has a kind of legal existence now because of recent changes in tax law -- it's no longer just an informal autonomous collective.

    I think that the conference is supposed to be for academic staff / post-PhD people only, and I think that's one reason the conference doesn't advertise itself, but Oxford graduate students always turn up to at least some of the sessions, and I've never seen anyone even begin to think to try to turn them away. We're a very easygoing bunch.

    And, yes, I thought it was good this year, too.

  2. I was talking to Sarah about David's seminar, and we agreed that it pretty much takes the piss that it's run as his private affair. Although I'm probably just bitter I've never been invited, that doesn't explain why Sarah thinks that it's not entirely above board. Anyway...

    Another thing - seems not to be uploading the music I've been listening to. Have you had any similar problems?