I finally got a conference program and list of participants and guests. The organizer has promised the papers and presentations by the end of the week. Which is good since I have to fly out to London on Monday. It looks like I have 19 papers to read and critique this weekend. Unlike tenured professors who whinge about grading I am not getting paid over a $100,000 a year to do this. They are giving me room and board for a couple of days.
The conference is not in Brunei as I stated earlier. It is in room 116 on the 1st floor of the main building in Russell Square. I will be giving my paper on the second day of the conference, 4 November 2005 as part of a two person panel from 11:00 to 12:10. It is the panel just before lunch.
I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that out of 20 participants and 12 official guests that only three have positions at universities and this includes the two organizers. Most of the participants are connected with various NGOs. The presenters are evenly split between Central Asians and people from Europe and the US. Except for Turkmenistan there is at least one paper by a presenter from each of the Central Asian states. Among the other countries represented are the Netherlands, France and Italy.
Overall it looks like it will be a very interesting conference. I am the only historian presenting at the conference. The main thrust of the other papers is on the cotton economy in Central Asia today. There are papers on the marketing of cotton, labor rights, water management, privatization and soil erosion. I am interested in seeing what comes up regarding the connection between labor rights and fair trade. If there can be fair trade coffee then certainly there can be fair trade cotton. The conditions for cultivating cotton in Central Asia are as every bit as bad as what used to exist on coffee plantations.