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Greetings from ASA President Michael Burawoy

Dear Colleagues:

The Program Committee for the San Francisco Meetings knew it had an impossible task on its hands—to compete with the Tenderloin, China Town, sailing in the Bay, cruising through Marin County, swimming to Alcatraz, inspecting Museums, picnicking in Golden Gate Park, being serenaded on the Lake Merritt Gondola, sipping through the wine country, and so much more. So we have planned a special feast to tempt you back into the hotel. Here are a few highlights from the menu.

For the first time, we will mark both the beginning and the end of our feast. We open with a co-sponsored plenary on W.E.B. DuBois—Preeminent Public Sociologist of the 20th century. The idea is to establish the terms and questions of public sociology through African American interrogations of that extraordinary life of W.E. B. DuBois. That’s how we begin. We end four days later with New York Times columnist and Princeton economist, Paul Krugman, discussing the future of “neoliberalism” with two-term President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. It will be followed by a closing reception and fireside chat with President Cardoso—on the curious matter of being sociologist as President. On Saturday evening Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and former High-Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations, will talk of pressing human rights here and elsewhere, and on Monday evening the acclaimed novelist and activist, Arundhati Roy, will be addressing the conference on “public power in the age of globalization.” We have invited these distinguished figures to our feast in recognition of their engaging and challenging social visions.

Sandwiched in between we have two high-profile plenaries: the one on “Speaking to Powers: A Global Conversation,” with distinguished sociologists from around the world, and the other on “Speaking to Publics: Limits and Possibilities,” with a prominent array of American public sociologists. Throughout the conference we have striven to mix foreign and indigenous scholars in order to better understand the complexities and contradictions of public sociology, which looks entirely different in different countries. With the very generous support of the Ford Foundation we have been able to invite over 30 renowned sociologists from other lands, many of whom will appear on one of the seven featured Ford Panels on International Public Sociology. You might call it a mini-World Sociological Forum.

This year we have consolidated the thematic and special panels into 60 thematic panels on “Public Sociologies,” that range from the very local to the global, that encompass examples from home and abroad. Perusing the list I hope you will agree that they cater to every taste—pro and con public sociology. California is said to be the bellwether of the nation, so pay attention to the Regional Spotlight Sessions and the Tours that bring together the most informed intellectuals, journalists, and sociologists in the state to discuss matters of pressing local and national concern.

The main banquet, of course, will be the regular sessions, including the enormous range of workshops that the ASA puts on every year for academics and non-academics. Here we find all manner of participants, some on their first voyage, some old hands, others clamoring from the audience—each discovering the other, often for the first time. There is a home for all in one or more of our 43 sections, on one of the plethora of panels and roundtables. The sections are the heart-beat of our association, its high voltage core. Section membership has never been so high, total paper submissions are way up! We are expecting record participation.

In between courses, enjoy dancing in the San Francisco streets. And in the Hilton and Parc 55, you can dance to the rhythm of Public Sociology! Bring your family! See you there!

Michael Burawoy, ASA President
Chair 2005 Program Committee
University of California-Berkeley