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2023: Los Angeles

Western History Association 63rd Annual Conference

October 26-29, 2023, Los Angeles, California

Restorations and Repairs: Lives and Landscapes Across Many Wests

To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort.

--Gaston Bachelard

The program committee for the 2023 meeting of the Western History Association welcomes session and individual paper proposals that imagine the western past in conversation with the conference theme, Restorations and Repairs: Lives and Landscapes Across Many Wests. We join in collective assessment of the many ways in which historical engagement empowers us to reckon with, restore, and repair human relationships and landscapes alike. We embrace the obligation that contemplative consideration of the past is urgent in our broken world, and we accept the challenges of keeping at our work.

We will gather in downtown Los Angeles in October of 2023. Despite myriad and thorny challenges – as difficult as any across the globe – Los Angeles remains a place open to individual and community reinvention and innovation. Much of this energy is aimed at the future: how will this place, for example, embrace more sustainable patterns of environmental impact as climate change and drought deepen? How will Los Angeles, California, and the greater Wests of North America reckon with systemic racial injustice and right past wrongs through reparative action? How can we–as practitioners, educators, and activists–harness our expertise, and our access to circuits of knowledge and power, so that we can collaborate with stakeholders to reconsider the past in order to reimagine the future? 

Reckoning can be retrospective, and this vantage might suggest hope. This region is more willing than it once was to grapple with histories inflected with pain.  In neighborhoods, along streets, in parks and playgrounds – all across the vast public spaces of this fascinating metropolis – Angelenos are engaged in re-imagining the many pasts of place. We see the same thing happening all over the West.  This is work every bit as fraught as it is exhilarating, and thus it should be with our fervent encounters with the history of the American West. Our work as historians is, as it has always been, multi-layered as to approach and application. We find conventional and unconventional ways to connect and converse with our audiences: through academic pathways; through pedagogy; through public outreach and dialogue; and through public encounters of all kinds.

Our colleague, historian Donald Worster, writes of “how much has been lost in our short years as a nation.” Loss, pain, degradation of landscape, death born of violence, neglect, and racial conquest: our West is laid atop material and spiritual grief. Yet, all across the West, reckoning with loss has within it suggestions of hope, if not redemption. Commemorative acts and memorialization movements – all of them a long time coming – remind us of the fundamental importance of our collective historical work. 

Join us in October; join us in Los Angeles. Offer your ideas about the history of the West and the reckonings with time and place that are so foundational to the work we all do.  We encourage proposals that engage with themes of restoration, repair, even redemption – either as they play out in our midst or as we insist that they get underway. We will come together in a place that encourages and nurtures imagination and innovation; please feel encouraged to propose your work (and the format for relaying it to your audience) in the same spirit. We come together in a place working hard to acknowledge the enduring and fundamental meaning and power of history. Please help by contributing your work and your ideas to this unending project. 

2023 Program Committee Co-Chairs

Co-Chair, Stacey Smith, Oregon State University

Co-Chair, David Rouff, University of California, Merce

Submission Instructions

To submit a full session (preferred) or individual paper, please visit the WHA 2023 Conference website (www.westernhistory.org/2023) and follow the directions and guide for electronic submissions (which will open in fall 2022). Consult the WHA’s Policy on Conference Participants (below) to adhere to the organization’s requirement that all conference participants must register for the conference if their panel or paper is accepted.

The CFP deadline is December 5, 2022 (11:59 P.M. Pacific Time). If you have questions, please contact the 2023 Program Co-Chairs: Stacey Smith (Oregon State University) or David Rouff (University of California, Merced). You can also contact the WHA Office at wha@westernhistory.org

Diversity of Session Participants:

The Program Committee will actively promote the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with various ranks and career paths on this conference program. The Program Committee will encourage sessions to include diverse sets of participants, addressing gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, religious diversity, disability-based diversity, and/or LGBTQ diversity.

Policy on Conference Participants

In 2018 the WHA Council created a policy on conference participation and registration. In 2023, conference participants who do not register for the conference, or who fail to show up to the conference without alerting the WHA office, will be included on a report that is forwarded to the next three WHA Program Committee Chairs (2024, 2025, 2026). Program Chairs will consult the report when making decisions about future conference programs. The policy was created to address non-registrants and participant cancellation and encourage individuals to follow-through with professional commitments. 

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