Because things have been so hectic and difficulty with getting a regular wifi signal, I have not managed to return to my blog until now. Tuesday was an interesting cultural day – I went for breakfast to ihop and then got on the hop on/off bus tour which took me around the city of Philadelphia. It was an interesting tour – so much history to learn about in this city. I got off at the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall which was really interesting and has lovely surroundings. I also saw the steps outside the art museum included in the famous scene in the Rocky film. Once complete, I walked back to the Marriot hotel where the conference is being held and got my conference pack, then back to my own hotel to get changed and bumped into James Densley and Andrew Johnson and arranged to meet them for dinner. we went out to a bar and then for a meal with James’s friends Michelle and Craig, and finished the evening off in a very usual bar with no windows and some very interesting decor.
The next morning, on Wednesday, was our panel presentation. James and I met with Simon Harding and had coffee in the morning and had a good discussion about the next set of papers we plan to work on with Robert McLean, my former PhD student. Robert was due to Skype with us but send us messages in the morning to say his wife has just had her baby so was obviously unable to Skype in! After this we went and met Malcolm Rigby from Arkansas and presented our panel – to went really well, and it was a great chance for me to present some of the thinking behind my forthcoming book on ‘Gangs and Spirituality’, and share some of the emerging insights. Simon did a fantastic job of weaving together all the insights from our papers, summing up and leading into the Q&A session at the end.
After this I went to a couple of other sessions and then met up with James, Simon and David Pyrooz, who is a leading USA gangs researcher from University of Colorado, Boulder. We went for a long walk and then had dinner in a restaurant in the city close to the Liberty Bell. Afterwards, Simon and I shared a cab back to the Marriott and I walked back down to my hotel from there.