AHA Annual Meeting

"Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in Global Perspective": The 132nd Annual Meeting Call for Proposals and Theme

Tyler Stovall, Antoinette Burton, and Rick Halpern, October 2016

Questions of race, racial difference, and ideologies of race typically have been associated with national histories, especially those of the United States, but also of Germany, South Africa, and other countries. Students and scholars of national identity have explored the complex relationships between nation and race, asking how the modern nation in particular has been seen as a racializing form. Comparative histories of the nation often turn on race, ethnicity, or comparable notions of "natural" difference. Feminist historians have investigated how gender and sexuality shape the ways that national experiences of race are lived. And historians of whiteness have shown just how entwined class and race can be in historical processes of nation making.

Our focus in this theme is on transnational and global histories of race and ethnicity—not in order to displace the nation, but to ask what happens when racial identities cross national borders and how that mobility might compel us to rethink the boundaries of the nation itself. Ideas of race as biological, social, and political markers have been a part of human history since ancient times. They have changed dramatically not only over time but also across region, nation, and globe. In opening up race, ethnicity, and nationalism to spatial frames beyond the West and before the modern era, we invite participants to put a wide variety of national historiographies in dialogue with each other and to explore how individuals and peoples are racialized as they cross borders.

AHA members proposing sessions should note that adherence to this theme is optional. The Program Committee will evaluate all proposals based on their individual strengths.

We welcome panels and papers that explore the ways in which racial distinctions have contributed to the formation of national identities and nation-states as political entities, as well as how differences and conflicts around race and ethnicity have reinforced and/or challenged the narratives and the lived experience of national cohesion in global contexts. Possible topics include race, colonial hegemony, and resistance; how immigration changes or magnifies racial or ethnic identities; how racialized minorities have adopted (or rejected) transnational affiliations and identities; diaspora and national identity; the role of gender and sexuality in the making and unmaking of racial communities; global interactions of racial science and theory; race and warfare on an international scale; race and the rise of regional or global popular cultures and cultural products; and race, ethnicity, and world commerce. We encourage attention to collective social histories (such as diasporic and ethnic trading communities in Asia, Europe, Africa, or the Middle East); on global icons (like Muhammed Ali, the Beatles, Cecil Rhodes, or Frida Kahlo); on intellectuals and activists (such as Franz Boas, Count Arthur de Gobineau, Leo Africanus, or Malcolm X); and on subaltern communities (such as indigenous populations, migrant laborers, sex workers, or indentured servants) who have been subjects or agents of global race making.

We look forward to a rich and varied set of proposals that will explore these issues, showing how local and global ideas and practices of race, ethnicity, and other forms of difference have intersected over time in ways that have helped both to define the idea of the nation and to move it beyond its limits.

Tyler Stovall (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) is president-elect of the AHA; he will preside over the 132nd annual meeting. Antoinette Burton (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is the chair of the 2018 Program Committee, and Rick Halpern (Univ. of Toronto, Scarborough) is the co-chair.


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