Presenting at the APSA – Some Reflections

Katie Pruszynski (Sheffield) and Caroline Leicht (Southampton) were part of a panel, Misinformation and Disinformation: a challenge to democracy in the 21st century, that was selected by the PSA to represent the organisation at the APSA annual conference, held in LA from August 31 to September 3. They have shared their reflections with us here:

Katie: APSA had certainly found a city to match its own scale. Both LA and the conference itself buzzed with activity. Caroline and I have different research interests, but there was more than enough to keep us both busy. Tackling the enormous programme of events was virtually a full-time pursuit in itself. As my own research sits within the field of political psychology, I found a rich pool of panels and discussions where I was privileged to hear from colleagues making exciting new contributions in affective polarisation, the “Big Lie” (very much my field), partisanship and identity- and more. 

Our own panel was a terrific experience. Caroline and I were lucky enough to have a fantastic Chair in Dr Dimitri Courant, and Dr Lala Muradova was a generous and constructive discussant. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the conference centre, I wondered if we would get many attendees but was very pleased to see chairs fill up. Presenting your own work- especially as a PhD student- is a daunting experience, but it is testament to our field and to Dimitri and Lala that the discussion was positive and constructive throughout. I’ll take away some excellent points to reflect on for my own research, as well as many new contacts, and a very long reading list.

Caroline: For me, this was a homecoming of sorts. My first academic experience – as an undergraduate – had been at UCLA and the city has been one to call home ever since. APSA was my first international conference of this scale and, in a way, knowing the city made it slightly less intimidating. As Katie noted above, the programme in itself was a full-time pursuit. There were so many events and panels, and I was immensely excited to explore as much as I could. My own research lies at the intersection of gender, media and politics and I had a plethora of brilliant panels to choose from in this area. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to meet many of the colleagues whose work has been influential for my own research and to develop connections with them that I am sure will be ones to last.

I can only echo what Katie has said about our panel. We were very fortunate to have a fantastic Chair and Discussant who both provided very thoughtful comments on both of our presentations. Our audience was also brilliant and very engaged, providing useful feedback and asking thoughtful questions. I left LA with many new insights and perspectives, with a suitcase full of books acquired in the Exhibition Hall, with a long reading list and a new network of colleagues in political comedy and gender and politics research. I am grateful to have had such a positive and fruitful first experience at APSA and look forward to many more in the future.

We would like to thank the APG for its consistent encouragement of PhD students and early career researchers to take up a little space at such prestigious events. We also thank them for their generosity in helping to fund our attendance- we are both self-funded students and this would not have been possible without their financial assistance. We also thank Dafydd Townley for his work in creating the panel and providing much guidance in the early stages- we were terribly sorry you couldn’t join us there. Thanks also to the PSA for their financial and logistical support throughout.

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