WHA at the AHA

The WHA will be participating in the 2018 American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., sponsoring two conference sessions and a reception. You are also invited to meet the WHA at Friday’s Affiliated Societies display session.


The WHA reception at the 2018 AHA will take place Saturday, 6 January 2018, 7:00–9:00 p.m., at the Lebanese Taverna at 2641 Connecticut Ave NW, a five-minute walk from the conference venues.

Affiliated Societies Display

WHA officers and staff will be at the Affiliated Societies display session on Friday, 5 January 2018, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., in the Marriott Wardman Park Atrium.

Sponsored Conference Sessions

State Ritual and Symbolic Power in Early Modern Eurasia (AHA Session 39 / WHA 1)

Thursday, 4 January 2018: 3:30–5:00 p.m.
Columbia 9 (Washington Hilton, Terrace Level)
Chair: Geoffrey Koziol, University of California, Berkeley

Comment: Geoffrey Koziol, University of California, Berkeley

Session Abstract

This panel examines how early modern Eurasian empires developed and employed various symbols, rituals, and ceremonies to legitimize rule and integrate different political actors in cohesive administrative organizations. It takes up the question of ‘why do people obey?’ but pushes beyond the Weberian categories of domination and types of authority to look at the historical contexts of different techniques and methods that worked to accumulate symbolic power and facilitate the disciplining of political actors and formation of early modern states.

In the early modern period, imperial courts throughout Eurasia became increasingly ritualized. From Qing dynasty greeting rites to Bourbon court etiquette, political actors partook in and were subjected to an intensification of ritual practices and a widening array of symbolic expressions of politics and power. Much of the scholarship exploring this phenomenon focuses on Europe, however, constraining our ability to generalize. It is thus one of the objectives of this panel to push the inquiry about the logic and practice of state ritual and ceremonial activity beyond Europe and into other parts of Eurasia, particularly, the Ottoman, Russian, and Qing empires. Doing so, the papers contend, will further enable us to demystify ritual and show how it facilitated administrative organization and governance. In the language of historical sociology, it will help us link symbolic power with despotic and infrastructural power.

The panel further examines the direct connection between ritual and state formation. The trend of ritualization exhibited in the historiography and explored in these papers corresponds with political, social, and economic developments across the continent, which saw contemporary rulers centralize power, build robust administrative apparatuses, conquer and consolidate territory, and exert far reaching control throughout their realms. Although historians have examined these later trends, there has been relatively little work attempting to connect them with the corresponding ritual and ceremonial activity of the day. How did symbols, rituals, and ceremonies help rulers accumulate symbolic power? How did rulers translate that symbolic power into administrative, economic, and military power? What were the effects of institutionalization and how did it impact political structures? The papers of this panel probe these questions.

Race, Place, and Nation in the Early Modern World: A Pedagogical Roundtable (AHA Session 267 / WHA 2)

Session cosponsored with the Society for Reformation Research.

Sunday, 7 January 2018: 9:00–10:30 a.m.
Washington Room 3 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)
Chairs: Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and Kathryn M. Brammall, Truman State University

  • Omar H. Ali, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Juliana Barr, Duke University
  • Gary G. Gibbs, Roanoke College
  • A. Katie Harris, University of California, Davis
  • Charles H. Parker, Saint Louis University

Session Abstract

The topic of this roundtable will feature the theme of the 2018 AHA, “race, ethnicity, and nationalism in a global perspective,” delineated by the early modern era. The roundtable will present four established scholars who will each speak for circa ten to twelve minutes on topics that examine a unique pedagogical approach to their specific historical subject matter. The remainder of the ninety minute time slot will be allotted for the panelists to engage with the audience in a discussion of the potential problems and benefits of the approaches featured in their talks—or, in fact, any relevant issue put forth by a member of the audience. In the aggregate, the talks presented by our panelist will cover the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, and will touch upon numerous geographic areas, including North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This wide-spread geographic coverage will necessitate reference to diverse cultures. At the same time, an exploration of the significance of race, place, and nation will anchor the whole and bring a uniformity to the panel.

World History has become an established introductory course in many colleges and universities in North America and the need for constant reflection and enrichment of approaches, strategies, and subject matter benefits the profession at large. The members of this proposed panel and its sponsors—the Society for Reformation Research and the World History Association—are dedicated to maintaining an active discussion within the profession about the challenges and strategies of pedagogy and we believe that this roundtable discussion will prove to be a unique and dynamic component of next year’s conference program.