2022 PRESIDENT: SUSAN LEE JOHNSON
Susan Lee Johnson holds the inaugural Harry Reid Endowed Chair for the History of the Intermountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Johnson has taught North American western history, gender history, and the history of sexuality to undergraduate and graduate students at four state universities, centering questions of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity in the context of changing economies and polities. In addition to history, Johnson has studied, taught, and worked in scholarly publishing, serving on the staff of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and teaching a colloquium that produced a volume of ARCHIVE: An Undergraduate Journal of History. Johnson’s scholarship has focused on relations of power in the West as a place of lived experience and as an imagined space, exploring these themes in Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (Norton 2000), which won the Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy and the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize; Writing Kit Carson: Fallen Heroes in a Changing West (North Carolina 2020); and a new book project, “The Trail the Slaves Made,” a place-based history of how the Santa Fe Trail connected slaveries and emancipations in nineteenth-century North America.
Johnson has enjoyed residential fellowships at the Newberry Library, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, and the Huntington Library, and is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Johnson first attended a WHA meeting in 1979, and has served the WHA as a member of the Council, as a Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chair, and as member of a Program Committee, the Martin Ridge Huntington Library Fellowship Committee, and the Caughey Book Prize Committee. In 2019, Johnson co-organized the first LGBTQ history tour at a WHA meeting. Johnson is a founding member of the Coalition for Western Women’s History, having attended the first conferences in 1983-84, and is a founding coordinator of CWWH’s QuIT Organizing Committee, which is dedicated to making two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people and pasts a visible and vital force in our field.
Johnson was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and first crossed the line of semiaridity at fifteen, heading west to Montana. Since then, Johnson has lived in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nevada, and spends summers in New Mexico. Johnson holds a BA from Carthage College, an MA from Arizona State University, and a PhD from Yale University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Johnson writes, “There could be no greater honor than to have been selected as President-Elect of the organization that is my most cherished intellectual home. The WHA has changed a great deal since I drove from Tempe to attend my first meeting in San Diego in 1979, and I am eager to carry on the work that women, scholars of color, first-generation college graduates, labor union supporters, LGBTQ rebels, and fellow travelers in the WHA have initiated.”
2022 STATEMENT ON SAN ANTONIO CONFERENCE SITE
STATEMENT ON HOLDING 2022 WHA ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN SAN ANTONIO
In the wake of the passage of Texas Senate Bill 8—the most restrictive abortion ban imposed since the U.S. Supreme Court established the right to abortion in 1973—two Western History Association members asked the WHA to relocate our 2022 annual conference from San Antonio outside of Texas. One also mentioned voter suppression as an additional reason why the WHA shouldn’t meet in Texas. We assume this refers to Texas Senate Bill 1, which imposes new restrictions on how and when voters cast ballots, targeting in particular past initiatives to foster voter participation in Harris County, home to Houston, the most diverse city in the U.S.
The WHA Executive Committee as well as the leadership team for the 2022 WHA annual conference have considered these requests. We are grateful to anyone who urges the WHA to maintain the highest ideals and practices of equity, inclusion, and diversity. We share deep concern about Senate Bill 8, Senate Bill 1, and other legislation that restricts the rights and threatens the well-being of women, people of color, immigrants, working people, and LGBTQ people in Texas. We are especially concerned with legislative attempts designed to restrict the teaching of race and history in public schools. But we do not think that moving the 2022 conference outside of Texas will promote the interests of those who remain most vulnerable to the sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, homophobic, and transphobic impulses that inform such measures. San Antonio is a majority minority city. Almost two-thirds of its residents identify as Latinx, and there are sizable African American, Asian American, Indigenous, and mixed-race populations there as well. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ people own small businesses near the conference site, and many more work in the corporate hotel and restaurant industry that flourishes in the Riverwalk area. We hope that the presence of up to a thousand conference-goers will bring some benefit to these communities, and, as we suggest below, we're actively seeking ways to engage with them in order to learn how we can best support their efforts to shape their own lives and the world around them. The 2022 Local Arrangements Committee is planning tours that highlight the histories of communities of color in San Antonio, and those tours will feature women and people of color as leaders and participants. The 2022 Program Committee is just beginning its work (the call for papers deadline is Dec. 5, 2021), but they’re exploring public forums that will highlight the history of struggles for reproductive and voting rights in Texas and the West and that will address attempts to restrict teaching about race and inequality in U.S. history. And the two committees are committed to working in concert, first, to identify local businesses, restaurants, galleries, and grassroots organizations that support the interests of vulnerable populations in San Antonio, and then, once identified, to support them in material ways.
The WHA Executive Committee and the leadership team for the 2022 conference are also concerned for the long-term health of the WHA. The WHA contracts with hotels as conference venues several years in advance, long before we can know what issues will arise in a state or city that will concern our members. These are binding contracts. We use the conference organizing service INMEX (Informed Meetings Exchange), which ensures that we’re doing business with socially responsible hotels. The WHA has a policy of meeting in union hotels, considering exceptions only every seven years (the exception gives us the option of meeting occasionally in union-unfriendly places where many of our members nonetheless live and work). The Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio is a union hotel whose workers are represented by UNITE HERE. If the WHA cancels its contract with the hotel, our organization will incur a penalty of $299,000. That money will stay in corporate Texas, continuing to enrich the state, even as local businesses and organizations will be deprived of revenue from conference-goers, low-wage workers will lose hours and tips, and San Antonio will not feel the presence of a progressive organization whose members not only study the history but also overwhelmingly support the interests of women, people of color, immigrants, working people, and LGBTQ people. Meanwhile, the WHA will have to contract on short notice with another hotel in another city, further depleting finite resources. The cost of doing so is too high and the benefits too uncertain. For all of these reasons, the WHA Executive Committee and the leadership team for the 2022 WHA conference, with the backing of the WHA Council, unanimously support keeping that meeting in San Antonio and honoring our contract with the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk and its union workers.
WHA Executive Committee
María E. Montoya, President (2021)
Susan Lee Johnson, President-Elect (2022)
Elaine Marie Nelson, Executive Director
WHA 2022 Leadership Team
Susan Lee Johnson, President-Elect (2022)
Julian Lim, Program Committee Co-Chair
Tyina Steptoe, Program Committee Co-Chair
William Kiser, Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chair
Omar Valerio-Jiménez, Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chair
Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chair
B. Erin Cole
Philip J. Deloria
Anne M. Hyde
Susan Lee Johnson
María E. Montoya
Elaine Marie Nelson
Martha A. Sandweiss
Rachel St. John
2022 CALL FOR PAPERS
Western History Association 62nd Annual Conference
October 12-15, 2022
San Antonio, Texas
Protocols and Poetics of Place
In A Map to the Next World, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo writes, “When traveling to another country it’s important to recognize the spirits there, and acknowledge them with prayers, so that you won’t inadvertently offend or hurt by ignorance of protocol of that place.” As historians, we may or may not read poetry and we may or may not be given to prayer, but we do traverse time and space. So we can heed Harjo when she implores us to ask that our presence in a place be “a blessing rather than a curse.” It takes a poet to make poetry of protocol, which we understand in relation to matters more prosaic—medical research and diplomatic practices, carceral codes and border routines, military maneuvers and pride parades. Harjo insists that places, including North American western places, also have protocols, even if historically those protocols have been too seldom observed.
The 2022 WHA Program welcomes session and individual proposals that consider protocols of place in North American Wests. Humans have created protocols that promote life in western places; Harjo, for instance, highlights protocols of introduction among Indigenous peoples. But in their migrations, humans have also marauded and massacred, mingled and merged, measured and manufactured, creating competing protocols that too often have reflected both inequities of power and indifference toward human and nonhuman lives. This is nowhere more evident than in the crossroads place that is San Antonio, sitting at the juncture of the western Gulf Coastal Plain and the southern Great Plains and in the homelands and trading grounds of Native speakers of Coahuiltecan, Athabaskan, Uto-Aztecan, Tonkawan, Karankawan, Tunican, Comecrudan, and Caddoan languages. When Spaniards built missions along the Río San Antonio in the eighteenth century, new crossroads emerged, and again in the nineteenth century, when four wars transformed the place from an outpost of Spanish empire, to a contested site in a newly independent Mexico, to a centerpiece of the short-lived Republic of Texas, to the largest city in the state of Texas and the regional headquarters of the Confederate Army. The military presence would only increase in subsequent decades, until San Antonio earned the moniker Military City USA. Meanwhile, after the Civil War, cattle and sheep markets collided in San Antonio as railroads converged there, creating a diverse city of Mexican Americans, Anglo Americans, African Americans, and German immigrants. The Porfiriato and the Mexican Revolution further swelled the Mexican population with displaced workers and political exiles, and when U.S. soldiers returned from the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa, they brought hundreds of Chinese immigrants who made San Antonio home to the largest Asian community in Texas until Vietnamese refugees poured into the state in the 1970s. The twentieth century also made a sonic crossroads of the city, first as a recording center for conjunto, blues, jazz, polka, country, and western swing, and then as birthplace of the West Side Sound that merged Tejano, Black, and Anglo music. Politically, San Antonio was the site of the Pecan Shellers’ Strike in the 1930s, led by organizer Emma Tenayuca; desegregation drives in the 1950s and 60s, championed by Henry B. González and the Rev. Claude Black; and, in the summer of 2020, multiracial Black Lives Matter protests.
We encourage proposals that reflect convergences like these and the protocols of place they produce, up to and including a not-yet-past of pandemic, police violence, and anti-Black racism, and of urgent, creative, collective responses that promise to transform the protocols of tomorrow at the crossroads that is the North American West. We look for work that addresses this theme using artful modes of presentation, following Harjo’s lead in offering words that are worthy of places. We invite panels created in the spirit of poetry that demonstrate engaged historical writing and make creative use of sound and images and digital tools.
2022 Program Committee
(Enter names here after they are confirmed)
To submit a full session (preferred) or individual paper, please visit the WHA 2022 Conference website (www.westernhistory.org/2022) and follow the directions and guide for electronic submissions (which will open in fall 2021). Consult the WHA’s Policy on Conference Participants (below) to adhere to the organization’s requirement that all conference participants must register for the conference if their panel or paper is accepted.
The CFP deadline is December 5, 2021. If you have questions, please contact the 2022 Program Co-Chairs: Julian Lim (Arizona State University) or Tyina Steptoe (University of Arizona). You can also contact the WHA Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diversity of Session Participants:
The Program Committee will actively promote the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ people, and people with various ranks and career paths on this conference program. The Program Committee will encourage sessions to include diverse sets of participants, addressing gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, religious diversity, disability-based diversity, and/or LGBTQ diversity.
Policy on Conference Participants
In 2018 the WHA Council created a policy on conference participation and registration. In 2022, conference participants who do not register for the conference, or who fail to show up to the conference without alerting the WHA office, will be included on a report that is forwarded to the next three WHA Program Committee Chairs (2023, 2024, 2025). Program Chairs will consult the report when making decisions about future conference programs. The policy was created to address non-registrants and participant cancellation and encourage individuals to follow-through with professional commitments.