MAASA’s Spring 2014 Conference: “All Deliberate Speed: Politics of Equality and Discourses of Difference”
The Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2014 meeting will be held February 28–March 2, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Institute for Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will co-host. Jennifer L. Pierce, Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota will deliver the keynote lecture, “Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Corporate Culture, and the Backlash Against Affirmative Action.”
“Equality” has been a central concept in US life. Long before the nation’s founding documents invoked the phrase “all men are created equal,” settlers imagined the colonies as a refuge from hierarchical political and social orders of Europe, and as a laboratory for new experiments in equality and meritocracy. However, the US has been the site of innovation of another sort – developing and adapting conceptions of difference. These discourses of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion (to name a few) would set explicit and implicit limits on equality.
2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. These landmarks of the modern Civil Rights Movement have not ended debate about the meaning of equality and difference. Recent controversies regarding racial profiling, the mass incarceration of black and brown youth, violent crime, educational access, and the financial crisis, as well as contentious Supreme Court decisions about sexual discrimination in the workplace, affirmative action, the prerogatives of religious organizations, gay marriage, and racial discrimination in voting practices suggest these arguments are far from settled. We ask conference presenters to consider how American Studies scholarship can intervene in these debates.
* * *
The Mid-America American Studies Association is the regional chapter of the American Studies Association that serves institutions and individuals in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It works for and with graduate students, faculty members, community members, and independent scholars interested in the study of American culture. It is affiliated with the journal American Studies and hosts yearly conferences to facilitate conversation and scholarship in American Studies and related fields.