The 2019 ASEEES Annual Convention will be held in San Francisco, CA, Saturday, November 23 – Tuesday, November 26, 2019.

Convention Theme: “Belief”

2019 ASEEES President Mark Steinberg, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Belief may be a universal human impulse. Belief is inseparable from how we perceive and interpret the world, especially how judge what is true or right, a preoccupying concern across human cultures. Belief is manifest in a wide range of expressions and practices, from social movements to spiritual life to wars. In the face of this pervasiveness, the humanities and social sciences across the disciplines have continually grappled with the definition of belief and its role in human affairs.

Belief is not unambiguous or unproblematic. Beliefs have led to violence, discrimination, hatred, and genocide (this list could sadly but easily be expanded) and to self-sacrifice, heroic feats, solidarity, and revolution (also an expandable list). Belief has been liberating and oppressive, creative and destructive. Belief constructs normativities and inspires transgression and innovation. Class, gender, and race are infused with beliefs about what is natural, true, and right. Belief has elevated individual men and women and degraded them. Belief often looks beyond the world as it is, toward a transcendent time and place. Reaching beyond hope and desire, belief has inspired efforts to make the world as it ought to be—sometimes at great cost in lives. And belief is not limited to human relations but reached into our fraught relationships with the natural environment and with the unearthly. Inevitably, belief is shaped by the world of the present, often as a critical response to the limited and flawed reality of the here and now, past and present. Of course, there are analytical hazards in emphasizing the importance of belief, including a reduction of motivations to abstracted ideas and feelings, separated from social experience and material life, and essentializing belief as immutable, rather than as part of the world of change, instability, and unpredictability.

These introductory comments are meant to suggest possibilities for exploring belief not to narrow the field. Belief will always be a subject of difference and dissent and we look forward to a wide range of topics, approaches, and arguments in panels and papers. We especially welcome contributions that theorize the category itself as well as explore its forms and places in the Slavic, East European and Eurasian world. Conceptually, we might ask what is “belief” as a category of experience and practice? What is its relation to other forms of cognition, knowledge, and judgment, including faith, science, and emotion? What is its relation to social and material life, to physical and bodily practices? How has belief been entwined with other key categories of analysis, such as culture, gender, class, religion, and nation, including previous ASEEES themes such as performance, transgression, revolution, fact, boundaries, and memory. And, of course, how has belief, for better and worse, been part of the histories, lives, and possible futures of this region.

The deadline for ALL submissions (panels, papers, roundtables, meeting rooms) is February 15, 2019.