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OAH Annual Meeting 2017: On “Circulation”

OAH Annual MeetingAs co-chairs of the 2017 OAH Annual Meeting in New Orleans, we would like to open a broad conversation about the program. Both of us want the most capacious, chronologically deep, inclusive, and representative conference possible. This blog post is an opportunity for us to make an explicit appeal and to share our hopes for 2017.

Each year, the incoming OAH president and the co-chairs of the program committee select a theme for the annual conference. Nancy Cott (president-elect now, who will be president from April 2016 to April 2017) conceived of “circulation” as a set of processes that cross borders and sweep broadly across chronologies. In consultation with her, we drafted the Call for Proposals outlining what we meant by circulation.

Because the kinds of circulations we have in mind have occurred historically at a wide range of scales and both within and across various time scales, it struck us an appropriate theme for a conference that endeavors to cover virtually all subfields in American history and at least four centuries of time. The Call For Papers includes the following statement: “We are eager to consider economic, intellectual, demographic, political, legal, technological, military, environmental, cultural, industrial and scientific modes and patterns of circulation and their roles in shaping people, societies, natural environments, institutions and polities.”

We are particularly eager to encourage submissions of panel and paper proposals dealing with the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Previous program committees have noted a paucity of submissions for past conferences on topics earlier than the twentieth century. We’re not going to hypothesize here about why that has happened, but rather hope to arrest and reverse this unfortunate trend through suitable publicity.

The strength of OAH is its capacity to bring together historians from across the rich, deep, diverse, and dynamic world of historical practice that the writing of North American and U.S. history has become in the last half century. The two of us are committed to making the 2017 meeting in New Orleans reflect that practice and its many practitioners. We’ll be reaching out to various historical communities and historical associations in the next year to solicit and encourage proposals. We want historians of any topic and time period to consider the OAH meeting to be a worthwhile and productive place to present and discuss their work.

We hope that “circulation” will draw together the great range of historical research in our profession. And we look forward to seeing you in 2017!

Brenda and Robert