The 2017 ASEEES Annual Convention will be held in Chicago, IL on November 9-12, 2017. 

Convention Theme: “Transgressions”

2017 ASEEES President, Anna Grzymala-Busse, Stanford U

The 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution inspires the 2017 theme, and invites us to rethink the ways in which cultural, economic, political, social, and international orders are undermined, overthrown, and recast. The storming of the Winter Palace, in both popular history and cultural representation, exemplifies how revolutionaries violated physical and political boundaries and imposed a new organization of power. Yet the revolution also invited new cultural iconoclasm and smashed existing social relations right down to individual families. It justified the overthrow of the economic order and the elimination (physically and/or politically) of collective actors and individuals.

The anniversary of this fundamental transgression, the deliberate violation of the status quo, invites us to consider how social, linguistic, artistic and other orders in various domains are deliberately and explicitly defied—and how they are constructed in the first place. How are social norms challenged and re-constructed? For example, we see anti-clericalism and pro-LBGTQ movements in conservative and religious countries in the region, such as Poland or Lithuania. How do these actors negotiate strong advocacy in the face of hostile popular sensibilities? The migrant crisis illustrates how strong norms can clash. Representatives of Western European countries have condemned what they see as parochial and xenophobic attitudes in Eastern Europe, but the acceptance of Muslim immigrants can also constitute a violation of local norms of religious and ethnic homogeneity. Here, too, we might ask, who defines linguistic transgressions? How do the “acceptable” linguistic registers in which ethnic and religious categories are discussed emerge? How have artistic and cultural iconoclasts such as Zbigniew Libera or Petr Pavlesky transgressed, who defines these “transgressions,” and what are the cultural and political implications?

Transgressions are not limited to artists or social movements. National, elected, “mainstream,” officials also flout and defy public institutional norms. In international politics, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly violated international borders, held sacrosanct by international organizations. Within the realm of domestic politics, we have the specter of EU members led by anti-EU leaders, who openly abuse and disregard the norms of rule of law and media independence. Such actors publicly (and successfully) defy the pro-democracy consensus that appeared to structure politics for the first two decades after 1989 in the “democratic frontrunners” such as Hungary or Poland.

The theme also invites us to consider transgressions more broadly and comparatively.  What are the actors and forces that generate existing boundaries and expectations, and how are these questioned and recast? How do the models of political, cultural, and social change, which tend to emphasize gradualism, allow us to explore deliberate and radical change? How do we compare transgressions: for example, how useful is it to compare 1917 with 1989/ 1991? Is transgression “contagious”—does it diffuse across domains? Finally, how are transgressions absorbed and digested, and how do they become the mainstream, the “new normal?”

Proposals from all disciplines and historical periods are welcome, and encouraged to engage in transgressions of their own. Deadline for ALL Submissions (panels, papers, roundtables, meeting rooms) due February 15, 2017.