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From the 2012 Annual Meeting column of the September 2010 issue of Perspectives on History

Communities and Networks: Theme for the 2012 Annual Meeting

Jacob Soll and Jennifer Siegel, September 2010

The 126th annual meeting of the American Historical Association will be held January 5–8, 2012, in Chicago. The Program Committee welcomes proposals from all members (academic and nonacademic) of the Association, from affiliated societies, from historians working outside the United States, and from scholars in related disciplines. Our program’s theme is “Communities and Networks.”

The term “Communities” points to an interest in the formation of groups—ranging from the level of families and villages to institutional communities, such as confessional groups, corporations, and universities and to nations, empires, and virtual communities. The term “Networks” asks us to look at the linkages that tie and hold together all these communities. It refers to all types of interconnectivity, ranging from transportation, communication, and technology networks to all kinds of group relationships, such as mercantile partnerships and intellectual collaborations. These tightly interrelated topics can be approached from a number of methodological angles, ranging from the methods of social, cultural, or intellectual history to economic, diplomatic, military, or technological history. We believe that this theme will appeal to many scholars. Above all, we hope that it will attract interdisciplinary panels that show how these apparently disparate fields can cross-pollinate.

The conference theme offers opportunities to political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural historians; to specialists working on different geographical areas and in various time periods; as well as to transnational and global historians—in short, to the largest possible segment of the cosmopolitan and creative membership of the AHA. We hope that the theme will inspire and elicit papers on all aspects of social interaction and communication through networks, including the formation of communities and the evolution and circulation of information, knowledge, and traditions. Scholars who study social and spatial interaction, the workings of institutions and administrations, the history of family life, business, diplomacy, empire, ideas and philosophy, science and technology, will all have much to contribute.

As the call for proposals indicates, the Program Committee will also welcome and seriously consider proposals that do not fall under the scope of the chosen theme, as the overarching aim is always to provide the greatest number of opportunities to facilitate stimulating intellectual discourse.

Jacob Soll (Rutgers Univ. at Camden) is the chair and Jennifer Siegel (Ohio State Univ.) is the co-chair of the 2012 Program Committee.