I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about conference themes, specifically organizing themes for some of the really big conferences like the AHA, the OAH, the Berks, etc., as opposed to smaller conferences focused on more specific subfields. He wondered why historians bother with coming up with themes, when the themes tend to be so broad that pretty much anyone with a brain can figure out a way of making their research fit the chosen theme, which ends up making the conference about everything and no specific theme in the end.
I think I agree with him. What would you say to a five year “time out” on conference themes? What would be the advantages and disadvantages from your point of view? Do science-y or anthropology people do this? Is it just a humanities thing, or what?