The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) will present its 2016 annual meeting in Detroit, MI, from September 14-17, in partnership with the Michigan Museums Association. Deadline for submissions is December 7.
2016 Annual Meeting Theme: The Spirit of Rebirth
Detroit’s story is one of persistence and evolution. In the 1700s, it was a strategic outpost, bringing together Native American traders and European explorers. In 1805, its first settlement was destroyed by fire, only to be rebuilt stronger than before—its resurgence celebrated in the contemporary landmark, The Spirit of Detroit. Before the Civil War, Detroit served as a terminus on the Underground Railroad, until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 transformed it into an international gateway to freedom. In the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans flocked to the region as part of the Great Migration, and to participate in its industrial expansion.
Today, Detroit presents a model of post-industrialization in the United States. In the footnotes of its sweeping narrative lie twentieth-century subplots of economic disparity, racial disharmony, and political dysfunction. Overcoming these currents and forging a new course forced its citizens to negotiate the competing interests of the city’s past to reimagine a bold future. In doing so, the region is once again crafting a new identity.
Detroit’s story reflects our own. Collectively and individually, we are constantly evolving, embracing new opportunities, and reacting to forces beyond our control. Navigating these contemporary challenges, while facing an unpredictable future, requires periodically re-thinking our direction. In doing so, we rely on the past for context, examples, and inspiration. The role of a public historian is especially critical during times of transition.
In the spirit of this theme, the Program Committee seeks proposals that:
- Explore challenges faced by history professionals, including but not limited to: shifts in national and local demographics, economic downturn, financial pressures, and distracted audiences.
- Illustrate attempts – both successful and less than successful – to react to those contextual changes
- Illustrate attempts – both successful and less than successful – to proactively address pending contextual changes
- Demonstrate the value of understanding the past (societal, institutional, programmatic) in choosing a course for the future
- Consider the use and value of public history in modern national discourse
- Document innovative models, approaches, partnerships
- Assess honestly and critically the failure of outdated models; suggests new approaches to common problems; and/or affirms the effectiveness of traditional tactics
Deadline for session proposals is December 7.