130th Annual Meeting

Welcome to Atlanta: A Sneak Preview of the 2016 Annual Meeting

Debbie Doyle, September 2015

130th Annual Meeting

An old postcard with a drawing of downtown Atlanta.

The excitement is palpable at AHA headquarters as the staff swings into action each summer, preparing for the annual meeting.Perspectives plays a critical role in providing information to the Association’s members, thousands of whom will attend. In the past, we’ve focused on the nuts and bolts of getting to the meeting and what to do when you’re there. This year we’re trying something a bit different, since all of the detailed, up-to-date information can easily be found online at historians.org/annual-meeting.

Therefore, Perspectives is publishing registration and hotel rates (it’s nice to know how much to budget), important dates and deadlines, and (in October) next year’s theme and call for proposals. But we’re also betting that our members will be interested in session highlights, behind-the-scenes takes, and attractions beyond the hotels. (We do want you to explore our host city, Atlanta!) We’re looking forward to seeing you soon.

Interpreting “Global Migrations”

Each annual meeting has an official theme. Our ever-innovating discipline also spawns its own leitmotifs, reflected in the pages of the final program and corridor buzz, but not always apparent to field outsiders. This month, Perspectives engages the theme for the 130th annual meeting, “Global Migrations: Empires, Nations, and Neighbors.” The Program Committee was excited to see so many historians respond with proposals demonstrating a breadth of inquiry—temporal, geographical, and methodological—which bodes well for the health of the discipline. It would be impossible to recognize each one here, but we thought we’d highlight two presidential sessions.

Chaired by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu (Univ. of California, Irvine), “Gendering the Trans-Pacific World: Diaspora, Empire, and Race” will analyze issues springing from a new book series from Brill with the same title; several series contributors will participate in the roundtable. As Wu noted in an e-mail conversation, “Scholarship on migration, particularly in the US context, has traditionally focused on European migration and adaptation”; it tends to downplay the significance of migration from Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Ignoring the roles of the latter migrations can blind historians to “the growth of a security state focused on border enforcement and . . . the maintenance of racial hierarchies.” Roundtable speakers, inspired by scholarship on the Atlantic world, will employ a “Pacific world perspective,” Wu said, to examine “the social disruptions caused by cross-oceanic forms of migration, colonization, globalization, and environmental assault, as well as the forms of political and cultural resistance against these miseries.” The roundtable participants, she continued, “will emphasize and analyze the gendered nature of the Pacific world,” especially the ways in which “gender signifies power in the Pacific world and . . . can also be the basis for political mobilization.” Other participants will include Natsuki Aruga (Saitama Univ.), Karen J. Leong (Arizona State Univ.), Rumi Yasutake (Konan Univ.), Ji-Yeon Yuh (Northwestern Univ.), and Mary T. Lui (Yale Univ.).

Clifford Kuhn (Georgia State Univ.) will chair “Oral History on the Borders: Migration and Memory.” Kuhn, executive director of the Oral History Association, told Perspectives via e-mail that “migration stories enable us to appreciate the multidimensional fluidity of people’s lives, in both space and time.” If “considered as only a single event within a greater migratory experience,” a migration “extends to subsequent generations and even to the present.” Because of its own “inherent interrogation of the relationship between past and present and between history and memory,” he continued, oral history “offers insights not only into the complex migration-related negotiations of the past, but also into the multiple meanings of migration in the present, at both individual and collective levels.” Recent directions in oral history interviews about migrations “focus on relatively recent history, as well as individuals displaced through war, violence, or natural disaster, with a host of methodological and ethical implications.” Additionally, Kuhn said, the role of immigrants themselves is becoming critical, as they are increasingly “invited into the larger research endeavor itself beyond the formal interview, we are witnessing a broader range of collaborative activities and outcomes.” Finally, work in digital media “demands a reconsideration of the entire oral history process, from field work to curation to the representation of interviews.” Joining Kuhn on the panel will be Charles A. Hardy III (West Chester Univ.), Steven High (Concordia Univ.), and Devra Weber (Univ. of California, Riverside).

Vicki L. Ruiz, 2015 AHA president, co-organized these presidential sessions.

At a Glance

Registration, Reservations, and More

The 130th annual meeting of the Association will be held January 7–10, 2016, in Atlanta. The online program will be posted on the AHA website in mid-September, and members can look forward to receiving the printed program in mid-November. Annual meeting sessions and events are scheduled at three hotels: the Hilton Atlanta, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. These buildings are connected via skybridges.

Pre-registration begins on September 16. Members may register at the pre-registration rate until December 18. On-site registration will be available in the Hilton Atlanta’s (255 Courtland St. NE) Salon West.

Admission to the Exhibit Hall, the Job Center, the Career Fair, and the Internet Center requires a 2016 meeting registration badge.

Attendees must pre-register before making hotel reservations at AHA rates. After pre-registering, attendees will receive a confirmation e-mail with instructions on making hotel reservations for both standard rooms and suites via a customized website or by calling a toll-free number. Attendees may need to use their badge number to make reservations. AHA rates can extend to three days before and after the meeting dates, depending on quantity available.

The cutoff date for the AHA’s official blocks at all hotels is December 18, 2015. After that date, rooms will be available at the AHA’s convention rates on a space-available basis. Hotel no-show policies will apply for reservations not canceled at least 72 hours before the first night’s stay.

1. Hilton Atlanta (headquarters): 255 Courtland Street NE  2. Atlanta Marriott Marquis (co-headquarters): 265 Peachtree Center Avenue  3. Hyatt Regency Atlanta: 265 Peachtree Street NE

Transportation information will be available online at historians.org/atlanta-transportation and in the annual meeting program.

Group meetings and reunions: Societies and groups that have not already made arrangements to hold receptions or other meetings should send requests for room space as soon as possible to aha@historians.org.

Resolutions for the business meeting must be submitted to the executive director by November 1, to allow time for publication. They must be in proper parliamentary form; must be signed by at least 100 members of the Association in good standing; must not be more than 300 words in length, including any introductory material; and must deal with a matter of concern to the Association, to the profession of history, or to the academic profession. Resolutions submitted by the deadline, and meeting the criteria for consideration, shall be published in the December issue of Perspectives on History. For complete information about business resolutions, please consult the AHA Bylaws at historians.org/constitution.

Refund policy: Advance registrants who are unable to attend the meeting may request a refund of their registration fee by written request, postmarked by December 18, 2015. All refunds are subject to a $20 processing fee. No refunds will be issued for requests postmarked after December 18.

Conventional Wisdom

Annual Meeting Coordinator Debbie Ann Doyle Clears the Air

Annual Meeting Coordinator Debbie Doyle

From making new connections to prowling the Exhibit Hall to rehearsing elevator speeches to rushing off to cool sessions, the AHA annual meeting is the signature event of the year for historians.

But persistent myths cloud impressions of the meeting. As our anticipation grows throughout the fall, grumbling about the meeting emerges, too. To clear the air, Perspectives asked Debbie Doyle to dispel the rumors, some of which rest on myths that might once have had a nugget of truth.

Why does the AHA pick the most expensive time of the year for travel and hotel bookings?

Actually, it’s the cheapest! The week after New Year’s Day is known in the travel and hotel industry as “dead week.” People tend to travel the week before, so a conference after New Year’s saves our members a lot of money on hotel rooms. We also strongly encourage institutions conducting interviews to inform candidates as early as possible if they’ll need to travel to the meeting (like in job ads themselves), which we hope will allow interviewees time to book airfare before it skyrockets.

How come the AHA is always in New York, Washington, DC, or Chicago?

Mostly it comes down to the fact that we need a city where we can have 3,000 hotel rooms on our peak night, which limits our choices. We also learned in a survey about meeting location that one consideration seems to rise above all others for historians: airline hub cities. We do rotate regionally from the East Coast to the Midwest, the Southeast, and the West. This year we’re in Atlanta. And in 2017, Denver.

Registration fees are crazy. How can the AHA justify charging grad students so much?

We’re excited about a new program in which AHA-member faculty can bring precandidacy students to the meeting for $10 each. It was incredibly successful last year, so we decided to expand it. Now there’s no limit on the number of students member faculty can bring. Without faculty sponsorship, or if you’ve advanced to candidacy, registration fees are lower if you’re a member. The grad student member preregistration rate is $76; for nonmembers, it’s $119. If you aren’t a member, you can join before registering for less than the difference and receive not only the discounted preregistration rate but all the benefits of AHA membership for the rest of the year. (Onsite registration is more expensive, but not by much: $82 for student members and $125 for nonmembers.) For anyone who doesn’t have a full-time job, we also have unemployed registration rates, ranging from $70 to $85, depending on whether you’re a member. Our student rates compare favorably with those of other professional associations.

I didn’t submit a panel to the annual meeting this year because I was on the program last year, and you can’t be on it two years in a row. Maybe even three. Right?

Actually, that was an old rule. We eliminated it back in 2008 because we want to encourage people to participate in the annual meeting.

Why does the Program Committee hate military history, ancient history, and medieval history?

It’s a common perception that the committee is less interested in certain fields, which becomes a problem when people in those fields hesitate to submit proposals, creating something like a feedback loop. But proposals in underrepresented fields are actually more likely to be accepted because we want the program to be diverse. The committee will even sometimes actively recruit submissions, though that doesn’t guarantee their acceptance. Regardless of field, the Program Committee tilts toward sessions that have some breadth, whether by subject or method.

Doesn’t the Program Committee use the Berks as an excuse to cut back on women’s and gender history every third year?

Actually, no, and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians recently became an affiliate of the AHA. I would say that it may be that people apply to only one major conference a year because of the effort and expenses related to attending. I’ve been staffing the Program Committee for 10 years and have not yet heard a member of the committee make a reference to the Berks in this context!

You scheduled all the panels I’m interested in at the same time. What do you have against my field?

The Program Committee works hard to balance sessions across time slots, but we only have 10 time slots, and there are approximately 30 sessions that have to go in each slot. So if there are more than 10 sessions in one field, there’s going to be some overlap. If you are the sort of scholar who has interests across fields, the overlap is even more likely. We have so many interesting sessions that it’s impossible to keep them from conflicting, but we do our best to spread sessions across the program.

My panel last year was in this tiny room. It attracted quite a few people, but some left because they couldn’t find anywhere to sit. Was this done on purpose?

Room size is a perennial issue. Hotels tend to have a lot of really big rooms and a lot of really small rooms, although it varies by the structure of the hotel. It happened in New York, where there were a lot of small rooms. I guess it’s because real estate’s expensive in New York! In addition, to be honest, often the Program Committee and AHA staff guess wrong about attendance. Hence sometimes the rooms are too big, and sometimes too small. There is some guesswork involved in figuring out how many people will attend a session, and we try to put sessions in rooms of appropriate size.

The process of interviewing is so hellish. Why does the AHA profit from grad students’ stress and financial hardship?

Interviews are not a revenue stream. It’s expensive for institutions to set up AHA interviews, but we don’t profit from making people come to them. For instance, we pay for the room setups—even the pipe-and-drape structures around the tables in the main interview area, because not having them would be just cruel, even if not unusual. Our current executive director remembers being interviewed at tables set up without dividers. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve the interview experience—or even just to mitigate its inevitable anxieties. If you have suggestions, please e-mail ltownsend@historians.org.

We recognize the trend toward Skype interviews, and we are open to the possibility that fewer convention interviews will contribute positively to the atmosphere of the whole meeting.

Where can I find the most up-to-date information about the annual meeting?

We have everything online, as well as in this issue of Perspectives. See you in Atlanta!


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