2020 Convention Theme

ASEEES 52nd Annual Convention
November 5-8 and 14-15, 2020 

Convention Theme: Anxiety and Rebellion

2020 ASEEES President Jan Kubik, Rutgers University and University College London (UCL)

In today’s world anxiety is pervasive. The uncertainties of the changing climate and the increasingly unstable international environment are at its root, but in Eastern Europe and Eurasia anxiety is also engendered by people’s disappointment with elements of post-communist politics, uncertainty about their economic status, and fear of losing their traditional ways of living.

Some see the gulf continue to widen between the haves and the have nots, some are alarmed that the existing cultural maps of the world are crumbling under the impact of what they perceive as detrimental if not catastrophic effects of cosmopolitan multiculturalism, uncontrolled population movements, or demands for gender and racial justice. Anxious and uncertain, they search for remedies, often attempting to organize a defense of “their” cultures. This is a rebellious impulse, fueled by the new media technologies that exacerbate the anxiety engendered by the rapidly changing world and unrealized promises of post-communist transformations.

An impulse can breed rebellion when initially inchoate sentiments are solidified into actionable guidelines. This occurs when politicians, priests or other “influencers” frame people’s anxiety in terms of more or less coherent discourses or ideologies. Recently, some of these public figures have begun bringing back ideas that – we would have thought – had lost their attractiveness after the atrocities of the twentieth century. Racial and ethnic purity, unquestionable “normalcy” of heteronormativity, religious fundamentalism or advantages of authoritarianism and illiberalism are invoked with unsettling assertiveness. As a result we observe a rise of rebellions that gain influence on their countries’ politics and in some cases help to install in power right wing governments.

This provokes counter-mobilizations propelled by the fear that the progress achieved under the banners of economic equality, inclusive democracy, universal human rights, racial and gender equity, and acceptance of all sexual orientations is being reversed. People who reject the certainties of “pure” race, “proper” gender roles, “true” religion, or “clean” ethnicity are increasingly vocal and alarmed that remedies designed to deal with the globalization anxiety and transformational fatigue may push the world towards another catastrophe.

The ensuing dialectic of rebellion and counter-rebellion has now begun defining the cultural and political landscapes in our region and many other parts of the world. Its most worrying consequence is the growing polarization of polities and societies that many observers see as detrimental to democracy, social fairness, economic growth, and emotional well-being.

The 2020 ASEEES Annual Convention invites panels and papers that examine the social, cultural, and economic sources of the rising anxiety, examine the concept’s strengths and limitations, reconstruct the politics driving anti-cosmopolitan rebellions and counter-rebellions, and provide a deeper understanding of the discourses and forms of artistic expression that reflect, amplify or stoke sentiments and motivate actions of the people involved. We want to approach this situation from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, ranging from economics to anthropology and cultural studies. Cross-regional comparative studies are encouraged, as they are often as revealing as intra-regional comparisons. Additionally, we invite examinations of previous periods in history that were pervaded by heightened anxiety, in an attempt to understand its origins and consequences. We also welcome in-depth case studies on the dialectic of anxiety, rebellion, and counter-rebellion.

Proposals from all disciplines and historical periods are welcome, and encouraged.

Deadline for ALL Submissions (panels, papers, roundtables, lightning rounds) is February 17, 2020.