The 2016 ASEEES Annual Convention will be held in Marriott Wardman Park, Washington DC on November 17-20, 2016.
Convention Theme: "Global Conversations"
2016 ASEEES President, Padraic Kenney, Indiana U
What does it mean to speak of the global? How do we do so within a regional/area studies framework? As we maintain and deepen our knowledge of the cultures and societies we are trained to study, how do we take part in conversations that call themselves global? How can a global framework help us make the case that study of our region contributes to larger empirical and theoretical debates in many disciplines?
Conversations about “the global” are familiar to scholars of the Slavic, East European and Eurasian world because our field was present at its creation: the dramatic end to the Cold War amid democratic revolutionary movements alerted scholars to the possibility of new kinds of global transformations, in which participants in distant and disparate parts of the world could communicate with one another, sharing and comparing their experiences. Economic crises and authoritarian resurgences in the quarter-century since have also taken place on a global stage. Social movements, corporations, and political leaders speak about global phenomena no less assiduously than do scholars.
Invocations of the global, however, are often something less than dialogue. We note similarities or echoes in other places, but do these amount to conversations about common and divergent experiences or simply parallel monologues? Scholars considering contemporary phenomena ranging from migration to austerity policies to protest patterns can benefit from learning about parallel – or perpendicular – examples. Historians and those who study culture can highlight what is unique about their subjects while making the case for its pertinence, indeed centrality to key arguments in and outside of disciplines.
We may aspire toward a story that encapsulates contemporaneous human experience, or we can simply use this knowledge to uncover unexpected approaches to our own subjects. Either way, the study of our region becomes accessible and valuable to colleagues and to our interlocutors (readers, students, and publics) who may know little about the places we devote our attention to.
The conference theme “Global Conversations” invites papers and panels rooted in deep local or regional knowledge while investigating what our region brings to global study, and what we can learn from those who study other places and other cultures. Scholars of literature and culture might consider the canonical (or marginalized) positions of works in different cultures, following the lead of recent articles in Slavic Review. Historians could reexamine moments in which dramatic events have occurred in quite distant places, for example the wars of the 1860s or the transformations of the 1980s. Anthropologists and geographers interested in processes of globalization can investigate whether and how local experiences of religion, place, or social organization intersect with experiences in distant locales. Political scientists and sociologists might reconsider familiar comparative methods in their disciplines to uncover broader patterns of power and resistance – or to demonstrate divergence. Scholars in any discipline can consider what global conversations are, looking at forms of communication and transferral of ideas and behaviors. Papers might introduce less familiar cases alongside those central to our research, or even focus primarily on how cases outside our region can inform our field of study; we encourage proposals that broach ideas and approaches from outside our region. Generating our own global conversations, we allow others to see our region with new eyes, and gain fresh perspective ourselves.