Publication Date

November 1, 1996

The 1997 annual meeting in New York City will feature a combination of familiar and innovative formats, familiar and new sessions organized by official committees of the AHA, and, of course, familiar and new scholars presenting their work. The call for panels for the 1997 meeting yielded one of the fullest returns ever.

The conference's plenary session, "Human Rights, History, and Historians," will explore the historical development of the idea of human rights, the challenges that human rights issues pose for historians as professionals, and the use of history to legitimate human rights abuses and claims. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, will present “The Debate over Universalism"; Roger Echo-Hawk, repatriation coordinator for the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado Historical Society, will deliver "Reflections on Repatriation: Images of Academic America in the Mirror of NAGPRA"; and Allison DesForges from Human Rights Watch-Africa will present "History and the Ideology of Genocide: Rwanda." John H. Coatsworth, the immediate past president of the AHA, will chair the session.

Following the example of scientific conferences—and also, increasingly, of social science conventions—we are offering "Roster sessions" at the 1997 AHA meeting. This new format provides individual scholars with a space, a listing in the program, and a period of time in which they are available to discuss their work with interested colleagues. Many of the "posters" at the 1997 meeting will be in electronic format.

In addition to sessions sponsored by long-established units of the AHA (the Professional, Teaching, and Research Divisions and the Committees on Minority Historians and on Women), the 1997 meeting will introduce several sessions planned by the new Task Force on the of Graduate Students in the AHA as well as a session on globalizing regional history, which is the first in a series of sessions being organized by members of last year's Program Committee in cooperation with a number of area studies associations. The sessions on teaching at the meeting will be augmented by the presentation and discussion of two new films of interest to history instructors: Margaret Mead: An Observer Observed and W. E. B.Dubois: A Biography in Four Voices.

The 1997 program contains an exceptionally large number of panels, reflecting the unusual strength of submissions this, year. Just as recent statistics indicate that a large proportion of new Ph.D.'s and junior faculty are interested in 20th-century U.S. history, so, too, the program includes a substantial portion of sessions on that period. Such current "hot" topics as affirmative action, welfare, and downsizing will also be examined in panels, as will recurring issues of intellectual interest to historians. Sessions will address an extremely wide variety of topics, including miscegenation; borderlands and frontiers; ethnic, racial, and other identities; science and scientific thinking; "comfort women"; masculinity; motherhood; leisure; imperialism; slavery; military organizations; war veterans; diplomacy and foreign policy; law and rights; the visual arts; religious experiences and institutions; and labor. The usual array of sessions focusing on specific geographic regions and periods will be complemented by comparative sessions.

As usual, much new research will be presented during the conference. In addition to the offerings described above, there will be retrospective examinations of the work of individual scholars, including that of Hayden White and Christopher Hill. We are pleased to report that, in addition to scholars from throughout the United States, foreign scholars from points as distant as Papua, New Guinea, plan to attend the meeting. Please join us for what will undoubtedly be a fascinating meeting.

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