From the Annual Meeting column of the October 2001 Perspectives

2002 Annual Meeting Program Highlights

Phillippa Levine and Paul S. Ropp, October 2001

The 2002 Program Committee was fortunate to have an abundance of excellent panel proposals this year, which made the task of ranking and scheduling panels especially difficult. The committee worked hard to avoid conflicts in scheduling panels on similar themes simultaneously, but with 26 panels in each of six sessions, we realize that some people will still feel frustrated at having to choose between equally attractive panels occurring at the same time.

The program begins in the evening of Thursday, January 3, with the plenary session entitled "Frontiers and Empires," which we have designed to highlight this year's theme of frontiers as well as the research area of our current AHA president, Wm. Roger Louis of the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Louis will chair the session, and will be joined by Toyin Falola of the University of Texas at Austin, James Piscatori of Oxford University, Richard White of Stanford University, and Marilyn Young of New York University. We have asked each of these scholars to reflect broadly on the relationship between frontiers and empires from the perspective of their own research. Professor Falola will examine the frontiers of European expansion in Africa; Professor Piscatori will reflect on the frontiers of Islamic expansion; Professor White will discuss the frontiers of United States expansion in the American West; and Professor Young will reflect on American efforts to build an informal empire beyond its borders in the 20th century.

We were especially pleased to receive so many excellent proposals on our frontier theme, including a number of comparative panels. These include, among many others, "The Triple Frontier on the Baltic Sea: Balts, Russians, and Germans," "Migration and Marginalization: Central America and the African Diaspora," "Expanding the Frontiers of Imperial History: New Approaches to Comparative Imperialism," "Modern Frontiers: Borders, Ethnic Festivals, and Transnational Identities," "Crossing Borders: Frontier Theory in Pan-American Perspective," "Identities on the Periphery: Creating Colonial Frontiers in Asia, Africa, and America," "(De)Limiting Empire: Islam, Ethnicity and Education in the Borderlands of the Qing and Ottoman Empires," "Reconceptualizing Spaces: Geographies of the Imperial Age in Europe and the Americas," and a roundtable on "The Frontiers of Transnational History."

The program includes several panels on important recently published books, including The Great Divergence by Kenneth Pomeranz, The Holocaust in American Life by Peter Novick, Something New Under the Sun by John McNeill, and England's Troubles by Jonathan Scott. In addition, the AHA Research Division has organized a panel, "The Play of Scale," featuring Carlo Ginsburg discussing microhistory and David Christian discussing macrohistory, with comments by Jacques Revel. Prasenjit Duara has organized an interesting cross-cultural panel, "De-colonization and the Discourse of Civilization," featuring Duara, Michael Adas, Gauri Vishwanathan, and Michael Bradley.

Special features during lunchtime on Friday and Saturday include an informal brown-bag session with former AHA program chairs discussing "What Makes a Good Panel Proposal?" and a question-and-answer roundtable discussion with editors of several major journals. In addition, on Saturday we will continue with the popular "Conversations with Past Presidents," this time with open admission, no reservations being required. One session will include Eric Foner (2000), Akira Iriye (1988), and Joseph C. Miller (1998); another session will include Robert Darnton (1999) and Frederic E. Wakeman Jr. (1992); and a third will include Philip D. Curtin (1983) and Carl Degler (1986).

On Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. two films will be screened: Anne Makepeace's Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians and Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman's, Secrets of Silicon Valley (2001). The filmmakers Snitow and Kaufman, will be in attendance to discuss their film.

A number of panels have been sponsored by various divisions of the AHA. These include "Tackling the Publishing Frontier: The Tools for Article and Manuscript Publication" (Task Force on Graduate Education), "AHA Teaching Workshop in Early American History" (Teaching Division), "Book Publishing for Historians: A Roundtable" (Professional Division), and "Revisiting the Frontier: Freedom, Diaspora and the Discourses of Minority History" (AHA Committee on Minority Historians). In addition, other pedagogical panels this year include "A Thematic Approach to Teaching the World History Survey Course," and "Old Media, New Media, and Students' Perception of History: Three Explorations of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning."

With so many excellent panels to schedule, the Program Committee also felt compelled to fill all six sessions, including the Sunday morning sessions, to maximum capacity. We realize that the West Coast location will make it difficult for some people to attend the last session on Sunday, but we hope people might consider staying an extra day, or taking a "red-eye" flight, so as to be able to attend one or more of the many excellent panels scheduled on Sunday. To encourage our members to stay in San Francisco for the entire program on Sunday, we list here a representative sampling of some of the panels scheduled on Sunday morning:

"The Industrial Revolution in World History, Why Europe? A Roundtable Panel on Kenneth Pomeranz's The Great Divergence," "Discourses of Division in Europe, the Americas, and Asia," "The Visual Culture of U.S. Immigration, 1880–1930," "Flexible Frontiers from Indigenous Perspectives: The Frontier as Strategic Resource in Late Colonial and Post-Independence Brazil, 1750–1850," "Labor in the Silicon Valley Economy," "The Death of the Textbook?" (sponsored by the Teaching Division), "Globalizing Women's History" (Sponsored by Committee on Women's History and the Coordinating Council for Women in History), "State and Frontiers in Qing China and the Ottoman Empire," "The Crisis of Democracy in Interwar Europe," "Histoire sans frontières: The Social and Cultural Construction of Race from the Ancient Near East to the Early Modern Americas," "Anticommunism in America: Opening the Historical Frontier," "Questions of German Modernity: Governance, Colonialism, and Social Reform," "New Frontiers in Civil Rights History: Black Women Leaders in the Black Struggle for Freedom," "Identity Formation on the Diplomatic Frontier: Gender, Ethnicity, and United States International Relations in the Pacific Rim," "Disciplinary Boundaries and Frontiers of Knowledge: New Perspectives of Visual Culture and Learning in American History," "Democratic Aesthetics: Public Spaces, Public Places, and Civic Values in the Twentieth-Century United States."

The Program Committee was extremely pleased with the variety, breadth, and general excellence of this year's panel proposals. They testify to the health and vigor of our discipline, and we eagerly anticipate an exciting few days in San Francisco next January.

Philippa Levine (Univ. of Southern California) and Paul S. Ropp (Clark Univ.) are the co-chairs of the 2002 Program Committee.