The 2018 AIW is titled “Arrows of Time: Narrating the Past and Present,” and the organizers want to explore this theme on three related fronts.
Firstly, the organizers would particularly like to highlight the historical connections –political, cultural, and academic – between the Low Countries, modern day Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Interest in Early Modern Indigenous interactions with the Dutch in New Amsterdam is growing, but some lesser-known intersections have recently begun to draw wider attention. For example, in 2016, Ghent played host to a popular exhibition on Father Pieter-Jan de Smet and his mission to the Americas. At the same time, the city’s football team came under fire for its use of an ‘Indian’ logo and mascots, giving rise to debate regarding its origins and appropriateness. Other connections, such as Margaret of Austria’s collection of artefacts from the New World kept at her court in Mechelen, or Frans Olbrecht’s fieldwork among the Eastern Cherokee, have garnered comparatively little scholarly attention.
Secondly, the 2018 AIW organizers invite contributions that problematize the uses and notions of ‘history,’ especially with reference to present day conflicts. This a very timely subject as the contested past is increasingly coming to the fore in the contested present. For example, the Idle No More and NoDAPL movements of the last five years rely heavily on the relatively recent past in their discourses about the present, and projected/envisioned/anticipated futures. Meanwhile, research published in Nature in 2017 that may push the peopling of the Americas back by 100,000 years has ignited a firestorm of controversy among the scientific community, and it may well become more widespread. The Clovis First and Bering Strait Land Bridge theories already play a prominent role in public discourses regarding ‘indigeneity’ in North America, and the possible impact of these new findings on ongoing debates remains to be seen. Additionally, there is growing interest in how non-Western and syncretic communities conceptualize such notions as ‘the past.’
Thirdly, the organizers wish to explore the pedagogical and institutional side of history. The decolonization of academia is starting to gain traction, with increased discussion among educational policy makers on how to diversify curricula. How can this be achieved with reference to secondary and university history classes without trivializing the subject material and how can these topics be presented to a wider audience? Additionally, how can we accomplish the decolonization of the past within academia itself – especially in light of the recent controversies surrounding appointments at Dartmouth and elsewhere?
Papers are welcome from any field on any topic relating to history and the Native Peoples of North America. However, priority will be given to those that also address the 2018 conference’s central themes. The organizers particularly wish to invite submissions for paper, panels, and poster presentations on – but not limited to – the following subjects:
- Contested histories
- Discourses on the past in function of present conflict
- Low Countries connections
- Reception and representation of the past
- Time and history as concepts
- Memory communities
- Practices of history
- Philosophies of history
- Decolonizing academia, and the field of ‘history’ in particular
- Decolonizing museums
- Pedagogies of history and decolonizing classrooms
The submission deadline for paper/panel proposals is December 15, 2017. The submission deadline for poster proposals is January 31, 2018. Paper/panel presenters will be notified of acceptance by January 15, 2018, and poster presenters by February 15, 2018. Proposals for papers/panels and posters (max. 400 words) should be submitted together with a short biography (max. 250 words) to ThomasDonald.Jacobs@ugent.be.