Category Archives: American HIstorical Association

January 9, 2011, 3:01 pm

American Historical Association Meeting 2011: End Of Conference Notes

I’m so glad we had this time together…..

This morning I woke up to a dusting of snow.  I was in a friend’s house in Cambridge, and I toodled out for my regular breakfast at Darwin’s.  At 7:15, it was just me and the old geezers (you know who I mean:  the men whose friendships have been organized for decades around meeting each other for breakfast and the New York Times on Sunday morning.)

I passed the time prior to leaving for South Station reading an article in The New Yorker about a boomlet in the debt collection industry in Buffalo.  Debt collection may, in fact, be the city’s remaining major industry.  It reminded me that while things in higher education are not good right now, they are a whole lot better than they are, say, in construction or heavy industry.

However, this does not make the cutting of funds to the arts and humanities tolerable or right, and we must start to fight back…

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January 8, 2011, 4:02 pm

Embedded At The American Historical Association

History flash mob at Au Bon Pain, 8:45 AM

Dateline Boston. Perhaps the most frequently asked question I heard yesterday at Day Two of the American Historical Association Meeting was “What am I doing here?” I don’t know what the attendance figures are, but despite the lousy job market and reduced conference budgets, the Hynes Convention center and the bars at the three conference hotels are jammed.

What is peculiar here is that in order to get from place to place a historian has to navigate miles of passageways filled with upscale shops. Yes, history fans: we can honestly say that this is the first time in the Radical’s memory that an AHA has been held in a shopping mall. It isn’t quite as disorienting as the year the OAH was held in a casino but it is right up there.

One theory as to why they have held the meeting in a mall is the incessant sartorial comparisons with MLA. My suggestion for…

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January 5, 2011, 10:34 pm

It’s Safe To Go Back To the Annual Meeting; A Radical Guide To Days 1 and 2 of The 2011 AHA

I just want to say:  gays were not involved in logo design or color choice.

Last year there was quite a hullabaloo about the American Historical Annual Meeting out in San Diego. Doug Manchester, who owns the hotel the AHA chose, had given gobs of money to Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.  He also got a lot of that money by running a union-free work place.  It was what you would call a lose-lose choice for the AHA, and resulted in a lot of people flying out there to picket, and a lot of other people having to give their papers by sneaking in and out hidden in laundry trucks.  (No, not Really!  That was a joke!)  This year there are no worries: you can come into the hotel without worrying that you will have to cross a queer picket line, or worse, that the hotel bar is off limits to Good People.  We historians are meeting in the People’s Republic of Boston, a city that is unionized …

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November 28, 2010, 11:16 pm

The Job Market Is A Lot Like The PBS NewsHour, And Other Advice For Skype Interviews

“Of course I can teach the second half of the U.S. History survey, Mr. DeMille ”

As I have suggested in earlier years, the day of the convention interview may be coming to an end.  It has been spitting blood and teeth for at least twenty years, as the academic job market has taken a pounding with only occasional, and unusual, seasons of activity that cause the professional association newsletters to write perky articles about recovery.

Even when I was a graduate student, a person could expect to pick up more than one interview at a conference.  Three interviews were considered a tipping point after which it was clear that something you were doing was ringing a bell and there would be a job with your name on it.  Even visiting jobs sometimes merited sending a small committee to the AHA:  the job that washed me in the holy water of the Ivy League and sent me catapulting into a real career…

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February 7, 2010, 6:19 pm

The Sunday Radical Roundup: Libraries, Lefties, and Lonely Lovelorn Ladies

This Week In Library Fun: Amidst the excitement about the reopening of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, other libraries in the system are slashing their hours on February 16 in response to budget cuts from City Hall. (Why does the mayor always take out the neighborhood libraries in a budget crisis when he could fire twenty or thirty cops and get the same $$? I ask you.) Changes affect nearly all branches except those on Staten Island and the privately endowed research libraries in Manhattan. Go here for new hours. At least for now, scholars and organized crime families will continue with the service they have, but there could also be no starker example of the distance that is growing between the actual public sphere and the privatized public sphere.

On The Left, On The Left: Tom Manoff, a former civil rights activist who has been the classical music critic for…

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January 19, 2010, 7:28 pm

Guest Post From an Activist Historian: The AHA Blew It

A report on the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in San Diego guest posted by Jennifer Manion of Connecticut College.

To welcome back the start of another semester, let’s start with a multiple choice quiz:

For LGBTQ historians of an activist bent, this year’s AHA was:

a. alienating
b. disappointing
c. energizing
d. all of the above

For this activist historian the answer is “d.” So many things went so wrong in the AHA’s attempt to skirt around the local LGBTQ/labor boycott of the host hotel without appearing to support the politics of the hotel’s owner, Doug Manchester, who financed the initial petition drive to get Proposition 8 onto the ballot in California. For those of you living in a cave, the passage of Prop 8 overturned the legalization of gay marriage in California. The constitutionality of Prop 8 is now being contested by Perry v….

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November 11, 2009, 2:01 pm

The American Historical Association Annual Meeting: To Boycott Or Not To Boycott?

As many of you are aware, in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, the decision to hold the the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA) became controversial. This is because the meeting will be held at a hotel owned by someone who helped to finance the campaign to repeal reforms that had extended political marriage to same-sex couples (nothing required churches to perform those marriages.) Your favorite Radical is, as we speak, making final preparations to depart for South Africa, where such discrimination is viewed in the national constitution as the equivalent of racism and is banned. What I think is also important to note is that South Africa is reputedly still a very homophobic country where, if it were put to a vote, discrimination against GLBTI (the I stands for “intersex” and is always included by South African queer activists) would…

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June 17, 2009, 1:39 pm

Why Wait For Gay Marriage to Get Yours? AAUP Committee On Sexual Diversity And Gender Identity Wants You!

This opportunity for concrete activism just in from Ian Lekus, chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History (CLBGTH), an affiliated society of the American Historical Association (which is still the cheapest membership of all time: $US 5 for students, retirees, and the unemployed, to $US 150 for lifetime members. So join!)

This note is to update you all on the “Harvesting the Grapevine” project, sponsored by the Sexual Diversity and Gender Identity (SDGI) Committee (which I have chaired since November 2005) of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and funded by the Arcus and Gill Foundations, among others.  In 2006, the SDGI Committee wanted to provide historical and sociological analysis of those campuses which had secured LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination clauses and/or partner benefits.  The idea was to build recommendations based upon…

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January 15, 2009, 6:28 pm

On Jobs and the Jobless: Listening To The Underemployed

Sterling Fluharty, who blogs at PhDinHistory, writes (in response to this post where I urged job-seekers to stop attending panels that seemed to be only increasing their anxiety about ever being employed): “Do you really feel it is pointless for the AHA to have panels on the job market? What if ideas for reforming the market and fixing its problems emerged from these sessions?”

Well, OK, if you put it that way. And anyway, saying that those panels are pointless would be doing a disservice to those who put them together, as well as to those who benefit from them. This advice — like my advice to stay off the wikis — was only for those of you who use sessions organized by the Professional Division as concrete venues for self-destructive obsessing about your powerlessness. I hope it didn’t cause the intended audiences to run to the over-priced hotel bar instead, or prompt any of you …

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January 5, 2009, 2:49 pm

Hello, American Historical Association: My Name Is The Tenured Radical And I Am Here To Recruit You

So today I am home from the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, and instead of re-reading job candidate files, I am thinking about transgender activist Sylvia Rae Rivera, who is pictured on the left (as she always was.) I am thinking about San Francisco organizer Harvey Milk, pictured below, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office and the person from whom I have ripped off my title. As those who have seen the new Gus Van Sant movie Milk or read Randy Shilts’s book The Mayor of Castro Street know, the signature opening line of Harvey’s political speeches played on the stereotype of predatory criminal queers obsessed with “recruiting” the young into their “lifestyle.” He would hop up on whatever platform was available and screech, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I am here to recruit you!”

Thanks to a commenter, one of my first reads today (after the New York Times

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