Social Science History Association 2010 Meeting (Web) – 35th Annual Meeting
Chicago, Illinois, 18-21 November, 2010
The 2010 Program Committee seeks panel proposals that will focus on Power and Politics. Power is a foundational concept in history and the social sciences, and just as clearly a contested one. Traditionally, the understanding of power as the capacity to enact one’s will against resistance and images of the coercive, central state apparatus held sway, and these are still compelling visions.
More recently, we have seen the emergence of a rather different conception of power as a diffuse set of forces, at work in the practices of everyday life, which may entangle actors in their own subjection. Here, the analysis of power has expanded to include the constitution of domination outside the formal polity, in forms of inequality and difference such as race, gender, or sexuality, or in terms of capillary processes working through classification systems, therapeutic discourses, and other technologies of regulation.
Similarly, notions of politics and the political are debated. Some focus on collective practices, formal and informal, directed at states, while others stress the ways in which “the personal is political,” or examine individual or smallscale acts of compliance, resistance or inauguration that may be carried into the polity. And which issues and relations are considered political is historically specific. Power and politics, then, have many faces, and we may trace their institutionalization in forms of rule and the formation of subjects in a broad array of spatial, national and historical contexts.
As historical social scientists and social science historians, we hail from many traditions and disciplines. But we share common ground in the weight we assign to historicizing our understandings of power and politics. SSHA is a site in which we may use our collective intellectual resources and disciplinary traditions to help us to challenge foundational concepts and conventional understandings within our own fields. More broadly, still, we can ask what the streams of social science history and historical social science imply for understanding power and politics in today’s world, and in the future.
The 2010 conference will be held in downtown Chicago, in the Palmer House Hilton. Chicago has served as a stage for some of America’s most memorable political events and has a rich history as a site of civil rights, labor, feminist, anti-war, student and other social movement organiz ing; many are fascinated by its municipal politics, its role in national partisan battles, and its emergence as one of North America’ s global cities. Thus, we also encourage panels and papers organized around Chicago themes. As ever, papers and panels on themes not related to the conference theme are also welcome.