I'm on tour in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. It's one of my favorite places in the USA: sweet people, great politics, strong human rights movements, and stellar academia. I've been having a great time here, meeting wonderful folks and connecting on many levels of mind, body, spirit, and theory. But yesterday, I ran headlong into an old buried obsession of mine: my obsessive need to be recognized as a peer within PhD circles—something I've not experienced in the 20 years I've been writing postmodern gender theory with my lowly BA degree in Theater Arts.
Here's what happened... I was invited to a luncheon at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The IAS is based on a great idea: when anyone in any discipline needs to do high level research with anyone from another discipline, the IAS plays matchmaker, provides some grant money, and the research actually gets done. Voila! Coalition building at the level of higher education. The theme of this year's Institute is "Body and Knowing." I was thrilled to have been invited, because I felt I had a great deal to offer and a great deal to learn from the multidisciplinary scholars.
I arrived early with two undergrad students who were my driver and companions for the day. We were met at the door by Angie, the gracious woman who manages the day-to-day workings of the Institute. She showed us to the luncheon room, gave us vouchers for our lunch in the cafeteria, and accompanied us as we bought lunch and returned to the room just before noon, when the luncheon was scheduled.
Thirty minutes later, it was still just the four of us in the room. Not a single one of the Institute's scholars had come to attend the luncheon to which they'd invited me. At the insistence of the IAS, no one else from the U of M campus was invited to this lunch. It was a closed door affair for members only, and me. Well, I took off, leaving the gift of a "Get Out of Hell Free" card for each of the absent scholars. I asked Angie to please phone me when she had any word as to why this had happened.