C’est avec grand plaisir que je vous acceuille dans mon bout de pays, “La Belle Province.” That we meet in Montréal to debate “Culture, Inequality, and Social Inclusion across the Globe” is particularly fitting as these very topics have been at the center of the construction of the Canadian community since 1608, in the context of multiple ethno-national and colonial conflicts. Today, many perceive Canadian society as exemplary when it comes to collective wellbeing, immigration policy, and multiculturalism. Quebec distinguishes itself by its remarkable (cooperative-based) social economy and vigorous anti- neo-liberalism. This, and much more, makes Canadian and Quebec societies particularly intriguing for curious sociologists. I invite you to learn about them during the 2017 ASA Annual Meeting.
The 2017 Program Committee has worked hard to assemble an intellectual feast that appeals to a range of palates. Whether you prefer to go for our “menu degustation” (the thematic program (!)), the comfort food route (however you define it), or to nibble here or there, we have no doubt that you will leave the table satisfied (gastronomical metaphors being de rigueur in Quebec).
The speakers at the plenary and presidential sessions include a number of prominent non-sociologists, such as philosophers Nancy Fraser and Will Kymlicka, economists Robert Frank and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stieglitz, First Nations advocate Audrey Sampson, President of the Open Society Foundation Christopher Stone, political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, and law professor Joan Williams. Given our global theme, we have also invited prominent sociologists from around the world, including scholars such as Mike Savage (London School of Economics), Pierre-Michel Menger (Collège de France), Oleg Kharkhordin (European University at St Petersburg) and Laurent Thévenot (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale). We will host 20 Author-Meets-Critics sessions on books carefully selected from nearly 300 new publications. The Saturday evening plenary featuring Ta-Nehsi Coates, has unfortunately been cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances.
In addition, we have put together several “current events” sessions that address recent political and social developments in the United States and abroad. These will focus on the “Brexit/Trump” moment (organized by the British Journal of Sociology), Trump’s challenges to American democracy and American society, as well as social movements and protests in responses to recent developments.
Another aspect of the program builds on a tradition started last year to host town hall meetings. We will have two such meetings. The first one is on “Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Sociology” (with the participation of Council members Tanya Golash-Boza, Monica McDermott, Adia Harvey Wingfield, and ASA Director of Minority Affairs Jean Shin). The second one is on “Sociology’s Response to Trump” (featuring ASA Executive Director Nancy Kidd, and ASA elected officials Ruth Milkman, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, and myself). There, we plan to discuss ASA’s exciting new initiative, the Sociology Action Network (with ASA member Akos Rona-Tas, who came up with the idea). Of course, no one should miss the ASA business meeting (at 7:00 a.m. on Monday!). I hope that many of you will be able to participate in these sessions.
Building on the work of past presidents, the program committee aims to make tools available to help members maximize the presence of sociology in the public sphere. We will host a number of sessions and workshops with this in mind, including one panel organized by our new Director of Communications Carmen Russell, with the Scholars Strategy Network and The Conversation. Finally, I am delighted that the Canadian and
Quebec sociological associations have enthusiastically responded to our invitation to organize regional panels, as has our local organization committee expertly chaired by Greg Nielson (Concordia) and Jean-François Coté (Université du Québec à Montréal). These bear on a range of topics including Latinos across North America, the criminal and legal systems of Canada and the U.S., and why labor and the left are so “left” in Canada. There will also be a special session celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of Everett Hughes’s classical book French Canada in Transition. A number of Canadian departments, foundations, and governmental agencies have made contributions that will allow us to bring Quebec performers to the Palais des congrès.
Despite this abundance of activities, I hope that you will take advantage of the featured tours, hang out at cafés, and make time to discover that Montréal is a very special place. And please do engage a few of my co-patriots. They love to hang out. You will discover for yourself how warm and welcoming Quebekers are. I have no doubt that they will be eager to share with you their own thoughts on their unique society and on why this is the best place on earth, especially in 2017!
Chair, 2017 Program Committee
Download the 2017 ASA Annual Meeting Bulletin here