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"America Aqui: Transhemispheric Visions and Community Connection," October 11-14, 2007, Philadelphia, PA
As Co-Chairs of this year's program, we have worked closely with a fabulous committee to put together the 2007 ASA Program for our upcoming meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 11-14. The three of us extend our deepest appreciation to our resolutely interdisciplinary committee. These dedicated people have gone above and beyond what was asked of them to review hundreds of proposals, sit in a hotel for a weekend, and create additional panels to round out intellectual gaps among the submitted panels and papers. Together we have created a magnificent program that will appeal to a wide range of our association's members. We also want to thank all of the incredible staff at the ASA headquarters, especially John Stephens and Kristen Hodge who since the meeting have worked overtime to bring this program together. Without their knowledge and dedication, assembling such a diverse, complex program would be impossible. Finally, we have all had the honor of working with our President, Vicki L. Ruiz, who has participated in the day-to-day process of pulling together this program as well as been a guiding, sage presence.
First, before we discuss the intellectual content of the program, we want to share a few insights we have learned about the process and offer some suggestions for the future. The ASA continues to use an on-line system and with the exception of just one or two mishaps, the submission process worked well. If numbers are any indication, the system encourages a wider array of folks to participate in the program. This year we had 298 panels and 471 papers submitted from all over the world for our review. Our only regret is that there were too many exciting panels; more than we could fit into the program. After an exhausting, but amazingly stimulating weekend discussing the program, the committee decided on 201 pre-packaged sessions and 147 individual papers made into 45 sessions. In total we have over 1100 participants scheduled for this year's meeting.
In particular, the individual papers selection was highly competitive and often depended on the ability to match single submissions with other related papers. Given the considerable time it takes to form individual papers into sessions, we strongly encourage our members to submit a full panel rather than a single paper whenever possible. There were a few kinks left in the notification system once panels had been accepted, but the ASA office has taken note of these issues and hopefully will continue to improve the system. For next year, we encourage proposers to follow the directions precisely and to start the application process early. The ASA staff is eager to help people submit their sessions and papers, but it is much easier to do that work when the staff is not pushed up against the deadline.
There are a number of ways that our membership could help both themselves and the program committee when using the on-line system. First, ASA guidelines clearly state that a member may appear only once on the program. When members do not heed this advice, they create more work for the program committee as well as jeopardize both of the panels for which they have committed themselves. Second, we encourage members who have agreed to participate in a panel or have submitted a paper not to then double register as commentator and chair because the system does not allow us to sort these overlaps easily. Third, the committee unfortunately had to reject panels-including a number that approached this year's theme in compelling, significant ways-that did not reflect institutional diversity. One of the benefits of attending a national conference is to interact with scholars from institutions other than our own. So, when proposals arrived with presenters from only one institution they were rejected out of hand regardless of content. Finally, it is important to remember that the competition for these slots was extremely competitive. If your panel or paper was not accepted this year, we do encourage you to resubmit a proposal for the 2008 meeting.
Now to the content of the program. The program committee has constructed a program that both reflects the diversity of our association as well as emphasizes the theme of, "America Aqui: Transhemispheric Visions and Community Connections." As you will see, this program has numerous sessions on transnational, borderlands, and international topics that cover a wide array of regions, disciplines, and time periods. In emphasizing the Transhemispheric, we thought about both Atlantic and Pacific crossings - not to mention equatorial transversals -- and hope that there will be lively discussions in these areas. This year we were also fortunate to have Myla Carpio on our Program Committee and she has worked to pull together a number of exciting panels that feature Native scholars from across a variety of fields. This year, we also paid particular attention to encouraging and developing sessions that had a temporal focus before 1900. Scholars of nineteenth century and the colonial era will find much to lure them to Philadelphia. Finally, there are a number of sessions that emphasize the arts as well as the cultural and performative aspects of our field by encouraging discussions with artists and other disciplines.
We are quite thrilled to have two special performances at our meeting. Coco Fusco has agreed to perform "A Room of One's Own: Women and Power in the New America, A Performance about the expanding role of American Women in the War on Terror." This event will be held on Thursday night at the Painted Bride and will require a reservation as well as a small fee. Second, E. Patrick Johnson has also agreed to perform "Sweet Tea," which is based on his interviews with gay African-American men in the South. So, please keep an eye out for details on these spectacular opportunities. Other featured panels will include a roundtable on Ken Burns' new PBS documentary on World War II, The War. This film has been the subject of much criticism from Native American and Mexican American scholars and community activists. The War will have aired in September and October, so the conference shall be an opportune time to reflect on the film and its impact on our profession. Finally, we want to emphasize the very location of Philadelphia as important to our work. We are therefore featuring the photography of Zoe Strauss on our Program cover; Strauss is renowned for her ability to capture both the austere and sublime aspects of quotidian life. It is our distinct honor that Strauss will also be participating in the conference program as part of a session that shall be facilitated by Julia Bryan-Wilson. And, of course, we encourage you to take advantage of our conference location by exploring Philadelphia.
We hope to see many of you in October in what is turning out to be a spectacular, diverse, and stimulating program.