Call for Papers: “Racial Americana? Continuities and Changes in Racial Politics.” March 18 – 22, 2009, Houston, Texas. The 40th Anniversary of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
Has the United States (America) moved beyond race? Is “racial politics” an anachronistic concept? Forty-years of ebbs and flows in American racial politics still leave many wondering if, how, and when democracy will be deepened in this country. Some however continue to promote postraciality—a questioning of the centrality, necessity, and analytical leverage afforded by race and racial categorizations. At the same time, enhanced and diversified levels of black representation and office seeking (i.e., federal, state, and local), of black economic prowess (e.g., purchasing power, economic development), of black educational attainment, and of worldwide consumption of black American cultural products (e.g., music, art, iconography) suggest that democracy has indeed yielded to black American demands. On the other hand, acts of racial insensitivity and outright hostility, as well as racial disparities in health, education, incarceration, and housing (just to name a few), persist in various forms and intensities. Simultaneously, U.S. trade relations with African, Caribbean, and other Non-Aligned nations—as well as military interventions in the Middle East—remain tilted against nation-state sovereignty, domestic production and consumption of indigenous materials, and political imagination. Much has changed and much has remained the same. The National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) will celebrate its 40th Anniversary by calling scholars to examine what continuities and changes in racial politics have meant and will mean for U.S. (American) domestic and foreign policy.
In Racial Americana, anthropologist John Jackson invoked the term (racial Americana) to denote why scholars remain “skeptical of postraciality” and of “academia’s current phase of racial détente, an identificatory peace born of collective agreements among scholars about the need to transcend racial essentialism at all costs.” For Jackson, there remains “aspects of Americanity…[which] constitute American exceptionalism through the historical prism of racial animus, affect, and privilege.” Yet, the permanency of Racial Americana remains in the question—e.g., the historic 2008 presidential cycle; the dawn of a new decennial census in 2010; and widespread reports that a new generation of blacks and non-blacks reject voting by/for racial or ethnic identity. Consistent with the theme, but not excluding other submissions, scholars are invited to consider some possible questions. Are racial categories necessary for analyzing public policy? Does racial or ethnic identity still affect political attitudinal and behavioral orientations? What are the implications for studying American politics without regard to structural inequalities? How has American exceptionalism manifested itself in recent foreign policy endeavors, and how does it specifically differ when dealing with non-Western countries? How have white attitudes towards black leaders, both in America and abroad, changed over the last forty-years?
We invite a wide range of papers that interrogate race politics, history (within and beyond the U.S. context), Diaspora politics, transnational politics, electoral politics, the intersection of the afore-listed, and other related topics, especially ones utilizing multiple methods and innovative theoretical approaches. We strongly encourage participants to think broadly, creatively, and with historical acumen.
Tyson King-Meadows, Ph.D.
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Department of Political Science
Public Policy Building
Baltimore, MD 21250
2009 NCOBPS Meeting Program Chair
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