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The Executive Officer’s Column

Global Sociology and the ASA Centenary

The centenary of the American Sociological Association is an opportunity for sociologists to reflect on the development of our discipline in the United States over more than a hundred years. We are pleased that in 2005 there will be an ASA- sponsored book edited by Craig Calhoun that will provide some views on this and as will a book sponsored by the ASA Section on the History of Sociology.

It is also fitting, however, at the beginning of our second hundred years, that we recognize and encourage the growing connectedness of sociologists across the globe. We are enriched by considering the sociological work not only from countries in Europe where we acknowledge many of our sociological roots but also from other continents whose intellectual traditions, old and new, provide us with new theoretical and empirical insights on the context of our work in North America as well as new scholarly and social challenges.

President Troy Duster has ensured a strong international dimension to the Association’s 100th Annual Meeting both through his theme—Comparative Perspectives, Competing Explanations: Accounting for the Rising and Declining Significance of Sociology—and through his efforts to facilitate the program participation of international scholars. With continuing support from the Ford Foundation, for example, President Duster has invited Indonesian sociologist Imam B. Prasodjo to join other sociologists to open this historic meeting by considering the social implications of the 2005 tsunami. Sociologist Dinka Corkalo of the University of Zagreb will participate in an invited panel on Blind Patriotism organized by Thomas J. Scheff and, from Poland, Piotr Sztompka, President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), will talk about the changing role of sociology and sociologists in post-communist societies.

Leadership in International Collaboration

These sessions and others that have strong representation of international sociologists build on the efforts of previous ASA presidents to grow and nourish the international nature of our annual meetings. This was particularly evident last year in San Francisco because of support from the Ford Foundation but also from the Mellon Programs in Latin American Sociology and the Institute of International Studies at Past-president Michael Burawoy’s University of California-Berkeley.

ASA’s sections have also been building this effort to broaden the base of our intellectual dialogue. Fitting for the centennial, the ASA History of Sociology Section is sponsoring a panel on the Formation of American Sociology in International Context with participants from Canada, Germany, Australia, and England. The ASA Medical Sociology Section will have Elianne Riska from the University of Helsinki participating in a session on gender and health sponsored by the European Sociological Association. These are only two examples; the program provides many others.

The growth of the international dimension of ASA’s annual meetings rests heavily on the work of U.S. sociology departments. The Mellon Programs in Latin American Sociology (Berkeley, UCLA, and University of Texas-Austin) that greatly enriched the 2004 meeting are but one example. The 2005 program will have an important session on comparative issues in deviance organized by sociologists at Cleveland State University who have a Fulbright partnership grant to work with sociologists at Bayero University in Nigeria. We are honored that Bayero University sociologist Musa Abdullahi, Secretary General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of the Nigerian Federal Universities, will be one of those participating.

Looking Forward

Many sociologists who will be in Philadelphia are already preparing for the XVI Congress of the ISA to be held in July 2006 in Durban, South Africa. To help prepare for the Congress, the ASA Council voted last year to provide support to the ISA Council of National Associations (CNA) to hold its first meeting in over ten years in the United States just before the ASA’s 2005 Annual Meeting, and to bring CNA delegates to Philadelphia. Thirty delegates, including those from Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, and Venezuela will join University of Pune Professor Sujata Patel, ISA Vice President, and Douglas Kincaid, Florida International University, ASA’s delegate on the CNA and member of the ISA Executive Council, in three special sessions on Local, Regional and Global Sociologies: Societies in Transition; Teaching Practices and Sociology Curricula in Comparative Perspective; and The Particular and the Universal in Sociological Traditions. In addition, Past-President of the ISA Alberto Martinelli will chair a session on Comparing the American and European Models of Society with sociologists from England and Spain and our own Neil Smelser.

Past as Prologue

Lest it be thought that the ASA has only recently acquired this recognition of our international connectedness, the documentary on Lester Ward, ASA’s first president, to be premiered in Philadelphia, will remind us that he was a highly respected sociologist in Europe as well as in the United States. In 1900 Ward became the first American elected president of the Institut International de Sociologie. We are delighted, therefore, that in 2005 Robert Cipriani, President of the Italian Sociological Association, will be joining us in Philadelphia to make a presentation to the Association in recognition of its 100th year.

Join this special gathering of sociologists in Philadelphia to meet old friends and colleagues and make new ones, expand international networks, and celebrate the future.

Sally T. Hillsman, Executive Officer