2020 has been a year marked by rapid and continuous change. From the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cast academic, professional, and personal plans into disarray, to the global and national responses to state oppression, police brutality, and political action, this year has already witnessed the making of a great deal of history. In response to the disruptive nature of these events, the AskHistorians public history forum is hosting our first-ever conference as an online event open to all. The theme, “Business as Unusual”, reflects how human history is filled with examples of people struggling to make do under difficult and quickly changing circumstances. It also describes the conference itself: digital in origin, unrestricted, and open to anyone around the world with a passion for history.
This is a huge new step for AskHistorians. Due to covid-19, quarantine, and social-distancing rules, in-person gatherings like academic conferences have been cancelled or moved online. Amidst these disruptions, we realized that /r/AskHistorians has something unique to offer: a whole digital platform already dedicated to sharing historical knowledge, home to one of the largest and best-informed groups of history fans in the world! Our community is a natural home for historians to share their research and ideas online in these strange circumstances.It is also (to our knowledge) the first time that a scholarly conference will use Reddit as a platform. We are uniquely equipped to integrate video and text, presentations and Q&A sessions, live events and networking spaces, all taking place in a space used every day by many thousands of avid history fans. And above all, the conference will be free and as accessible as we can possibly make it.
Schedule of Events
15 September, 10:00 AM, ET
'Indigenous Histories' Panel Features:
"Countering Cultural Erasure Through Community History: The Case of the Baharna"
"Rupture and Resilience: The Muckleshoot People"
"Inherent Sovereignty: Disruptions to Indigenous Nationhood"
Miguel Rivas Fernandez
"Remembering Malinche: The Evolving Role of Language in the Events and Memory of the Early Spanish Conquest"
Moderated by Elle Ransom
15 September, 1:00 PM, ET
Keynote Address by Prof.
"A new relationship of man to the universe" - that was what the U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson thought the invention of the atomic bomb meant, several months before its use at Hiroshima. But what would that relationship look like, and who would define it? In his keynote address, Prof. Wellerstein discusses the emotions, calculations, actions, and reactions of the 1940s as countries imagined what a world in an atomic age would look like, vacillating between apocalyptic fears and utopian dreams. Whatever nearly everybody agreed on was that the world would never be the same — but nobody was sure about what "the new world" they were entering would actually be like.
15 September, 4:00 PM, ET
'Imagining Mass Destruction' Panel Features:
Joshua R. Porter
"Samantha Smith: Citizen Diplomacy in the Cold War"
"More Powerful Than The Atomic Bomb: Dinosaur Extinction and Nuclear Warfare"
"The Nuclear 1979: Revolution, Islam, and 'The Bomb'"
"'The great peril of their bodies and souls’: Failure, Response, and History in the Würzburg Annals"
Moderated by Jason Dyer
16 September, 10:00 AM, ET
'Pick Your Poison' Panel Features:
Christopher S. Rose
"The Importance of Epidemics for Social History"
"The Anti-Jewish Riots in the First Castilian Civil War"
"Computing Cholera: Topic Modelling Catalogue Entries for the Correspondence of the General Board of Health (1848-1871)"
"Galt margr óverðr þessa ófriðar: The Samalas Eruption, Unusual Weather, and the end of the Icelandic Commonwealth"
Moderated by Stephanie Carlson
16 September, 2:00 PM, ET
'Sinners, Saints, and Spies' Panel Features:
"Elisabeth Achler’s Dirty Laundry, or, the Medieval Saint and Her Suffering Sisters"
"Through Chimalmantzin’s Eyes: A Family History of the Conquest of Mexico"
"Sex, Murder, and the Myth of the Wild West: How a Soiled Dove Earned a Heart of Gold"
"When Black History Becomes Multicultural Clickbait, Manure Happens: Uncovering Civil War Spy 'Mary Bowser'"
Moderated by Jennifer Binis
16 September, 4:00 PM, ET
'Power and Projections' Panel Features:
"His Gallant Soul Had Fled: Death, Remembrance, and Race in Early America"
"Dealing with Catastrophe: Medical Men and the Diseases of Women in 19th century Britain"
"'A Den of Monsters': Women, Crime, and the City in 1930s China"
"Young People in the Chinese Great Leap Forward and its Aftermath, 1958-1962"
Moderated by Lisa Baer-Tsarfati
17 September, 10:00 AM, ET
'Being the Change' Panel Features:
"Fascists in Hogtown: Toronto’s Reaction and Resistance to the National Unity Party during the Summer of 1938"
"Everyone I Don’t Like is Hitler: The Appropriation of Anti-Nazi Axioms by American Fascists, 1944-1949"
"Bringing the Millennium to Birmingham: To Kill a Mockingbird and Racial Protest in Alabama’s Magic City"
Moderated by Johannes Breit
17 September, 4:00 PM, ET
'In Whose Trenches?' Panel Features:
"'Gilded Misery': Reconsidering Emotions and Community during the American Revolution"
"The Rupture Between the South and North: The Diary of Nancy Emerson and War Discourse"
"Crossing Sect and Race: Civilian Ingenuity during the Lebanese Civil War"
Moderated by Caitlin Smith
17 September, 6:00 PM, ET
'Building the Nation' Panel Features:
"'Building a nation, dreaming its destruction': Australian Federation and Fantasies of War"
"War: The Defining Catastrophe of 17th Century Moldavia"
Buğra Can Bayçifçi
"The Balkan Wars from an Ottoman Perspective: Rupture as Creative Destruction?"
"‘Behold the Heresiarch’: Jan Hus, Mythologies, and Nationalism in Postwar Czechoslovakia"
Moderated by Juan Sebastián Lewin
"The Importance of Universal Access Principles in Digital History"
"Building an LGBTQIA+ Archive"
"Writing History in a country that chases historians"
"More and More Every Day: An Oral History Collection of Teaching and Learning in the COVID19 Era"
Moderated by Juan Sebastián Lewin
"Mobility in Slavery and Freedom: Mapping Paths of Escape, Enslavement, and Freedom in the U.S., 1830-1850"
"Running From Cultural Genocide: Carlisle Indian Boarding School Runaways and Hidden Resistance, 1890-1900"
"Mapping Itinerancy: George Fox's Journal"
"Revelation and Erasure: IPUMS USA Datasets and New Mexico’s Population 1850-1920"
Moderated by Dan Howlett
AskHistorians 2020, the 20 Year Rule, and Modern Politics
AskHistorians is not a political forum, in the usual sense of the word. We are known for restricting content using our longstanding ’20 Year Rule’, limiting questions and answers from directly dealing with contemporary subjects.
However, AskHistorians is not neutral. This and other rules do not exist to foster an arbitrary ‘balance’ of perspectives, but rather to enable and promote high-quality scholarship. It is our collective view that developing deeper shared knowledge of history is in itself a public good, that seeking to understand the reality of the human past can often be an inherently political – even radical – act.
The nature of this conference means that enforcing such a rule strictly is neither practical nor desirable. In real life, historical scholarship does not have a neat, agreed-upon cut-off date, nor do historians limit themselves to discussing the past with no reference to the present day. As such, we have not asked speakers to artificially limit what they say during papers and discussions – they are not responding to user-generated questions, but rather framing their own work and knowledge in the best ways they see fit. The specific views they express are their own, and not necessarily those of AskHistorians or its moderators. However, in providing a venue to showcase these scholars, we aim to fulfill our core mission – providing new windows into the past, and challenging the ways that we engage with it in the present.