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125th Annual Meeting Recap
With over 5,000 attendees, this year’s Annual Meeting in Boston was quite a success. To keep participants, and those looking in from afar, up-to-date on events at the meeting, we posted daily overviews (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), coverage of the Opening of the 125th Annual Meeting and the General Meeting, and lists of Council decisions (see part 1 and part 2) on AHA Today.
Articles and Blog Post Roundups
The meeting was also covered by reporters, historians, grad students, and others across the blogosphere and web. The last two “What We’re Reading” posts on January 13th and January 20th rounded up dozens of these posts and articles.
HistoriansTV once again conducted video interviews (with Tony Grafton, James Grossman, Barbara Metcalf, Robert B. Townsend, and a number of others), explored the exhibit hall and job center, and produced sponsored videos for nearly a dozen universities, for this year’s annual meeting.
C-SPAN filmed a number of sessions and events at the meeting, including “History and the Public” (the plenary session at the Opening of the 125th Annual Meeting), America in the 1980s, Government Secrets, and The Day Wall Street Exploded.
The 2011 Job Center by the Numbers
By David Darlington
Let’s take a look at the numbers around the 2011 Job Center. Activity at the Job Center rebounded a bit after a down year at San Diego, as staff tracked 168 total searches at the 2011 meeting, compared to 115 for 2010. Sixty-five of those searches used the free tables in the ballroom (the rest of the searches used suites spread throughout the convention hotels), and at those tables they conducted 716 interviews, or an average of 11 interviews per search. The number of interviews per search has remained remarkably constant in recent years. As usual, the highest traffic day at the Job Center was the first full day of the annual meeting, Friday, January 7th.
Thirty-five of the 168 searches were open and collecting c.v.’s at the annual meeting (21%). This is the lowest percentage of open searches in at least five years, though not by much. Usually about a quarter of searches are open.
United States history was the most popular field looking for candidates—43 of the 168 searches were in U.S. history, broadly defined. European history was second with 29 searches, while Asia had 23, thematic history had 16, world history had 15, Africa 12, Latin American 11, and Middle Eastern history had 8 searches. Each field other than thematic history (which remained the same) had more searches conducting interviews at the 2011 annual meeting than at the 2010 San Diego meeting.Note: You can also find this article online here.
Proposals for 126th Annual Meeting
The deadline to submit proposals for the AHA’s 126th Annual Meeting (January 5–8, 2012 in Chicago) is February 15, 2011.
The Program Committee welcomes proposals from all members of the Association (academic and nonacademic), from affiliated societies, from historians working outside the United States, and from scholars in related disciplines. The theme for the meeting is “Communities and Networks.” The Program Committee is also interested in proposals that examine new forms of digital research, publication, and teaching.
For more information, see the Call for Proposals. Proposals must be submitted online; detailed instructions are available on the AHA web site. Again, the deadline to submit proposals is February 15, 2011.
The Public Work of Historians: Engaging in Discussions
Recently in a post on AHA Today, AHA President Tony Grafton and AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman note a strong critique at the online publication Commentary, andhow they hope “that [their] columns will spark thoughtful discussions of history and historical thinking in as many parts of the blogosphere (and elsewhere) as we can.”
History as a Subject Matter
Also on the blog, Noralee Frankel, the AHA’s Assistant Director on Women, Minorities, and Teaching, discusses the CNN article, “Subject Matters: Why students fall behind on history,” and how it addresses issues that have concerned the AHA Teaching Division.
Perspectives on History – February 2011
In this issue AHA President Anthony Grafton revisits his first presidential column, responding to discussions the article generated online, saying he’s “grateful to all for these thoughtful responses” and now, “Let’s talk.”
125th Annual Meeting
AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman offers his “Reflections on the Annual Meeting,” and invites suggestions for future meetings.
See also other articles that look back at the meeting: “The 125th Annual Meeting: A Retrospective,” “Awards, Prizes, and Honors Conferred at the 125th Annual Meeting,” and a list of Council Decisions made at the meeting.
Three articles in this month’s issue lead off with questions, and cover three very different topics:
Konstantin Dierks and Sarah Knott, acting editors of the American Historical Review,ask then answer: “What’s in the February AHR?”
Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History, offers a response to: “What Exactly Does the Coalition Do?”
Finally, Dane Kennedy continues The Art of History series by asking, “Where is the Humor in History?”
The Masters at the Movies series also continues this month, with Robert Brent Toplin’s introduction, “Take 16: Jacqueline Jones on Two Mining-Town Films” and by Jacqueline Jones’ article, “30 Small Towns and Big Dreams: Meditations on Two Mining-Town Movies.”
From the Teaching column hear Dewey Broder’s thoughts on “Military History at Austin Peay State University.”
American Historical Review – February 2011
By Sarah Knott and Konstantin Dierks, Acting Editors, American Historical Review
The February issue opens with the 2011 AHA Presidential Address. Four articles range in subject from barbarians ancient and modern, to the first historian of human rights, to the Baghdadi Jewish diaspora, to the imperial policies of the Soviet state. The issue also contains three featured reviews and our usual extensive book review section.
AHA Presidential Address
What was the story that Lepel Griffin missed? The flamboyant British colonial official of India was blind to both the nuances of Islamic power and their adaptable gender conventions. In "Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Princess," AHA President Barbara Metcalf explores the late-19th-century history of a female ruler of Bhopal, Shah Jahan Begum, and her intellectual male consort, Siddiq Hasan Khan. The address seeks to tell some of the story that Griffin missed in order to place Islamic symbols and institutions into India's political history and the history of colonial-era social reform. Metcalf reveals Shah Jahan as an author of numerous published works, including a reform-minded guide for women, and the sponsor of a wide array of building, urban planning, and educational projects. Siddiq Hasan, meanwhile, was the leader of an emerging Islamic sectarian movement with extensive India-wide and international ties. The case of Shah Jahan highlights the nuances and novelties of "Islamization" as well as the reformist possibilities for female rulers and their subjects. Outsiders, Metcalf suggests, often misinterpret overt Islamic behavior.
In "Barbarians Ancient and Modern," Norman Etherington, a past president of the Australian Historical Association, explores two strangely parallel debates. Historians have discussed precolonial wars and migrations in Southern Africa and the barbarian invasions and movements of the later Roman Empire in peculiarly similar terms. Yet in each case the participants involved in the one controversy have not been aware of the other. By following the general course of these debates, Etherington shows that the flawed methodologies and assumptions that generated 19th-century knowledge about precolonial societies of Southern Africa have their origins in Western classical scholarship. Arguably, lessons learned in the debate on the so-called mfecane in Southern Africa may clarify discussions of barbarian identities and impacts in late antiquity. They may also illuminate similar research in more recent nationalisms and ethnicities grounded on supposed connections to long-past migrations, vanished peoples, or defunct polities. The parallel course of the debates we have inherited is rooted in—and exposes—the intellectual development of postwar Europe, contemporary ethnic nationalisms, and larger trends in historiography.
Samuel Moyn exhumes "The First Historian of Human Rights." The first attempt by a professional historian to place the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in a historical lineage was offered by a German conservative, Gerhard Ritter, in that same year. No American historian thought of doing so until 50 years later. Ritter's 1948 essay resituates the whole idea of human rights in that decade. Recent work tends to tell a teleological and triumphalist credentialing narrative. Ritter's agenda is alien to this easy characterization and points to the conservative and religious sources of human rights in the 1940s. The German's essay makes the risk of constructing "usable pasts" unusually vivid, and offers a more realistic vision of the ambiguous interaction of norms and powers in history. With Barack Obama having revived Ritter's "Christian realism" as his own foreign policy philosophy, the first history of human rights remains surprisingly relevant today.
The early 20th century saw an extraordinary battle over the fortunes of one Silas Aaron Hardoon. The deceased was a long-time Shanghai resident, Baghdadi émigré, one-time Ottoman subject, British Protected Person, and out-married Jew, as well as purportedly the richest foreigner in China. In "Protected Persons? The Baghdadi Jewish Diaspora, the British State, and the Persistence of Empire," Sarah Abrevaya Stein uses Hardoon's case to explore issues that reverberated through the early-twentieth-century Baghdadi, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern Jewish diasporas. As the Ottoman Empire gave way to nation-states and mandates, how was the population of Jews in colonial and semicolonial settings—émigré merchants and their families residing in entrepôts in India, Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean Basin—to be legally defined by the state? What allegiances were at stake when extraterritorial status came into conflict with evolving national and international norms? The testamentary battle over Hardoon's fortune points to the intersection of various environments of modern colonial encounter, from Ottoman, Iraqi, and Indian to British and Chinese, to illustrate how Middle Eastern Jews negotiated the transition from imperial to national and informal colonial regimes.
"The Soviet State as Imperial Scavenger: 'Catch Up and Surpass' in the Transnational Socialist Bloc, 1950–1960" explores how the technical and managerial elite of the 1950s Soviet state surveyed the socialist bloc for forms of expertise, technology, and industrial organization that might be useful to the Soviet economy. As Austin Jersild analyzes, the goals of Soviet "imperial scavenging" were remarkably consistent, but with diverse consequences for the vast contiguous bloc that stretched from Central Europe to China. Central Europe and its more advanced economy proved to be of greater importance to the Soviets than China, and Central Europeans were themselves eager to remind the Soviets of their value. Thus the path to competition with the United States in the era of "catch up and surpass" led through Prague rather than Beijing. Greater attention to the transnational character of exchange and collaboration in Moscow's socialist world, Jersild suggests, can offer new insight into Sino-Soviet relations as well as the history of the Cold War.
The April issue will include a forum on the history of the five senses as well as an article on narcotics trafficking in the Middle East and territorialization.
Keep up with the latest information on history and the profession on the AHA’s blog, AHA Today. Recent posts include:
Robert Griffith (1940-2011)
Robert Griffith, a gifted administrator and scholar at American University, died on January 25, 2011.
Historians TV at the 125th Annual Meeting
Historians TV once again made their way to the annual meeting this year, to conduct video interviews, explore the exhibit hall and job center, and showcase sponsored videos for nearly a dozen universities.
50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration
Fifty years ago, on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy delivered his inauguration address. We link to the video of the address and other resources.
Action Items at AHA Council Meeting, January 6 and 9, 2011
At the second half of the semi-annual meeting of the Council of the American Historical Association, held Sunday, January 9th, the governing board made a number of decisions.
C-SPAN Video from the 125th Annual Meeting
C-SPAN traveled to Boston earlier this month to film a number of sessions and events at the 125th Annual Meeting.
Modernity and Shifting Sexual Mores in Iran Discussed at CWH Meeting
Modernity leads, one likes to believe, to greater freedom, equality, tolerance, and such other melioristic goals. This is not always the case, as Janet Afary pointed out in her talk at the well-attended Saturday morning breakfast meeting of the AHA’s Committee on Women Historians (CWH).
Also, see the most recent What We’re Reading (January 20 and January 27) and Grant of the Week (Fellowships from the American Research Center in Sofia and Holland Prize Drawing Competition) posts.
News from Washington
In addition to AHA Today, the Association also draws on the efforts of a number of coalitions that support the Association's agenda to keep track of issues in the nation’s capital that will be of concern to historians. Here are news updates from some of them.
Allison Blakely Appointed to National Council on the Humanities Senate Confirms Historian to NEH Governing Council
President Obama Resubmits Humanities Nominations Five Appointments to the National Council on the Humanities Still Pending
IMLS Encourages Nominations for the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Submissions must be postmarked by February 15
- January 24, 2011 Washington Update
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Contributions to this issue of Fortnightly News came from: David Darlington, Debbie Ann Doyle, Kelly Elmore, Elisabeth Grant, James Grossman, Vernon Horn, Pillarisetti Sudhir, Sharon K. Tune, Liz Townsend, and Robert B. Townsend
Last Updated: January 28, 2011