2006 Meeting Theme:
“ Nations, Nationalism, and National Histories”
History has always been important for the development of nations, which draw meaning and identity from a real or invented common past. At the same time, nations have been important for the development of historiography; nations shape the way historians draw their maps, arrange their books, and define their areas of specialization. But nations are problematic as well as powerful. Most nations are the arbitrary result of circumstance and contingency and not the inevitable expression of natural ethnic or cultural communities. Nations must be constructed, sometimes imposed. Like other sources of political allegiance, nationalism is the result both of compulsion and consent, at once source and product of political power. National histories are deeply implicated in the nation’s construction and defense. Our task as historians is to do justice to the significance of nations, nationalism, and national histories, without accepting them uncritically; to explain them without explaining them away.
The Program Committee invites proposals for sessions on the origins, development, and variety of nations, nationalism, and national histories. Specific areas of interest include the process of national formation and national disintegration; the development of national cultures and their relationship to regional and transnational cultural forms; the political evolution and social context of nationalism; the role of history in nation building and of nations in the emergence of history as a discipline; and comparative studies of nations and nationalism, both across time (for example, in the modern and pre-modern eras) and space (for example, in Japan and its former colonies). We are interested in critical analyses of the nation as a historiographical category, including the exploration of alternative ways of organizing and imagining political, social, and cultural institutions. We particularly welcome sessions that bring together the fruits of such critical analyses with the work of public history, showing how historians can affect collective perceptions of a national past.
— Celia Applegate (Univ. of Rochester) and Kären Wingate (Stanford Unv.) are co-chars of the 120th Annual Meeting.Last Updated: July 13, 2007 2:18 PM