“Loyalties”: The 133rd Annual Meeting Theme and Call for Papers
Mary Beth Norton, Claire Bond Potter, and Brian W. Ogilvie, October 2017
Loyalty and disloyalty are forms of human attachment often associated with the history of politics. Yet loyalties function on multiple levels. Individually, or in groups, humans commit themselves to communities, loved ones, principles, a leader, a nation, a religion, an ideology, or an identity. Loyalties stabilize human society, undergird political and social hierarchies, promote courage and cowardice, disguise ethical lapses, and generate revolutions. The determination to maintain old loyalties or devise new ones can become a foundation for building nations, waging war, transforming and imagining new forms of human community, or defending institutions that maintain traditional ways of life.
Loyalties require communication, ritual, and imagery. They can be hegemonic or the outcome of powerful shifts in popular consciousness. Loyalties can also be disseminated through the propagation of ideas, or take the form of nostalgia, distracting from contemporary problems or complexities. Whether social, cultural, religious, economic, or political, loyalties can conceive a path to a utopian future, identifying those who are an impediment to that future as disloyal or as permanently loyal to an outsider group. Divided loyalties might also pose a problem: At what point, for example, can loyalty to party, faith, or community overwhelm loyalty to the nation?
We are interested in proposals that compare questions of conflicting or changing loyalties across time, space, and human experience—whether religious, ethnic, gendered, national, or otherwise—and how they have shaped trajectories of change. After a revolution, opponents of the new regime are often faced with a choice between swearing allegiance—thus betraying the values and leaders to whom they had promised loyalty—and imprisonment, exile, or execution. In contrast to such formal public dilemmas, loyalties that regulate private life can involve forms of expectation and obedience that are often unspoken, generationally specific, or resisted as archaic.
Electronic submission only, by midnight PST on February 15, 2018
Link to AHA Proposal submission page HERE or go to https://www.historians.org/annual-meeting/future-meetings/submit-a-proposal