GUIDELINES FOR ASAO SESSION ORGANIZERS AND PARTICIPANTS
ASAO is characterized by social informality and collegial cooperation regardless of rank. At the same time, the rigorous examination of data and ideas in ASAO sessions is designed to lead to high quality, often publishable sets of comparative papers on topics of importance in Pacific anthropology. The format of ASAO sessions differs from those at many scholarly meetings where individual papers are presented. Instead, ASAO sessions feature the ongoing give-and-take required for penetrating intellectual examination of difficult, yet vital, issues.
ASAO sessions are of three types:
(A) INFORMAL SESSIONS involve the informal sharing of ideas to determine whether there is common ground for further inquiry. Anyone who has relevant data is welcome to attend and participate. If such sessions generate enough interest, participants make plans to develop and share lists of bibliographic references, draft and circulate papers, and discuss them (possibly via e-mail) in preparation for the next stage (see below).
Informal Sessions are of two types. Impromptu Informal Sessions can be announced at the Opening Plenary Session of the annual meeting and posted on the bulletin board in the registration area during the meeting. These sessions do not have pre-arranged meeting locations but may meet in available conference rooms, participants' rooms, or local cafes. The second type of Informal Session may be announced at the prior year's meeting, proposed in the ASAO Newsletter or on ASAONET, or otherwise pre-arranged. To appear in the full schedule of the annual meeting, which is published in the December Newsletter, announcements of Informal Sessions must be submitted to the Program Coordinator and the Newsletter Editor by November 1 (see Timetable).
The level of organization for Informal Sessions varies. Participants are not required to write papers in advance, although it is helpful to session organizers if people advise them of their interest beforehand. If planned with sufficient lead time, some Informal Sessions may be well organized, with precirculated abstracts or papers and, perhaps, be only one or two papers shy of meeting the criteria for a Working Session.
Thus time given to Informal Sessions will vary depending on the number of committed participants or people indicating an interest in the topic, and the level of organization of the session. Ordinarily, scheduled Informal Sessions will be given no more than three hours of meeting time, and most will receive only one and a half hours.
(B) WORKING SESSIONS are based on prepared papers that are briefly summarized (NOT READ) during the session. Abstracts, if not drafts of papers, must be precirculated among session organizers and participants. Most of the meeting time during the session is allocated for discussing common themes, with an eye toward finding coherence and preparing for a second round of writing.
Session organizers can be imaginative in how they organize Working Sessions. Participants should respond to and make constructive suggestions on each other's papers. If complete drafts are precirculated, some organizers assign people to read particular papers and prepare commentary ahead of time; some have participants present each other's papers, allowing the authors time afterward to clarify points and respond to questions. One or more invited discussants can be helpful at this stage, but again, only if complete drafts of papers are circulated in advance.
Working Sessions form the heart of ASAO meetings and require considerable time for the discussion of provocative ideas, the analysis of different approaches, and the search for core themes. Accordingly, Working Sessions are ordinarily given first priority when meeting time and space are allocated. Time will be allocated according to the number of participants attending and presenting papers.
A minimum of seven participants presenting papers in person at the meeting is required for Working Session status. A list of participants, paper titles, and copies of their abstracts must be sent to the Program Coordinator by the November 1 deadline (see Timetable). Sessions that do not meet these criteria by the November 1 deadline will appear on the Program of the Annual Meeting as Informal Sessions.
(C) SYMPOSIA are sessions that normally have met at a lower level of organization at least once before. Papers must be precirculated among the session organizers, participants, and any invited discussants. Contributors do not read their papers but discuss the key issues that arise from them. Conversation in the session focuses on those issues and provides a constructive critique that contributes to building a coherent set of papers or book chapters.
Time should be set aside during the Symposium to discuss whether and how to pursue publication. Options include the ASAO Monograph Series (which has an informal right of first refusal for volumes arising from ASAO sessions) or other academic publishers; a special issue of an appropriate journal; or separate publication of individual papers.
Some Symposia may require only an hour and a half to wrap up unfinished business, while others may need as much as six hours to discuss issues, themes, and future plans. Symposium organizers should advise the Program Coordinator of their time requirements.
The presence of seven participants with precirculated papers is required for full Symposium status. A list of participants, paper titles, and copies of the first and last pages of their papers must be sent to the Program Coordinator by the November 1 deadline (see Timetable). Sessions that do not meet these criteria by the November 1 deadline will appear on the Program of the Annual Meeting as Informal Sessions or Working Sessions, according to their level of preparedness as judged by the Program Coordinator.
1) Submit the required information about your session to the Program Coordinator by the March 20, August 20, and November 1 deadlines. (See Timetable for Session Organizers and Participants.) Please note that organizers must be active ASAO members in the year that they propose a session and in all years in which they act as organizers or co-organizers. Instructions and forms for joining ASAO, or renewing membership, can be found on the membership page of this website.
2) Assist any Pacific Islands scholars who are interested in applying for support from the Pacific Islands Scholars Fund. (See PISF Guidelines.)
3) Advise the Program Coordinator by no later than November 1 of any particular scheduling needs (e.g., late arrivals, early departures, or potential conflicts with other sessions).
4) Advise the Program Coordinator by November 1 of audio-visual or other special needs. The hotels are responsible for providing equipment for those with disabilities. In all other cases, however, the rental of equipment from hotels is quite expensive for ASAO. Session organizers should encourage their participants to make their own arrangements for costly equipment.
5) Send the Program Coordinator your contact information, and advise these persons of any changes during the year.
6) Plan to attend both the Opening Plenary and Closing Plenary Sessions at the annual meeting. All session organizers are expected to deliver a Closing Plenary Report on the results of their sessions and future plans. If the organizers cannot be present at the Closing Plenary, they should appoint one of the participants to deliver the report. A written copy of the report must be sent to the Program Coordinator before the March 20 deadline.
1) Please respect the deadlines for your particular session and your session organizer's responsibility for meeting the overall deadlines (see Timetable). Submit and circulate your abstracts and draft papers on time. Advise the organizer well in advance as to whether you will be able to attend the session in person.
2) Members should limit themselves to participation in no more than two sessions, preferably at different levels. In the past, problems have sometimes resulted from members participating in multiple sessions. For the ASAO format to work, contributors must give their sessions their undivided attention. Multiple participation creates scheduling conflicts which often disrupt sessions and distract contributors. If you must be in more than one session, please send the Program Coordinator a note indicating your priority. First priority in case of scheduling conflicts will go to session organizers and discussants. However, since ASAO sessions are lengthy and relatively few in number, there is no guarantee that scheduling conflicts can be avoided.