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Greetings from ASA President Troy Duster

Dear Colleagues,

This is the Centennial year of the American Sociological Association, and we will use the gathering in Philadelphia in August to celebrate and reflect upon one hundred years of gemeinschaft und gesellschaft, peace and conflict, theory and practice. The Program Committee has devoted twenty-two sessions to various aspects of the centennial, from a long look back over the social history of the discipline and the society (and the inter-relationships between), to current assessments and stock-taking – to some inevitable crystal ball gazing.

The opening plenary on Friday evening, August 12 (7 pm), will be devoted to analyses of the aftermath of the tsunami, literally and metaphorically about devastation and rebuilding. We all know about the sudden and massive destruction and loss of human life, but we know little about the rebuilding and social transformations of the regions hardest hit. Kai Erikson will chair this session, and among those presenting will be Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist at the University of Indonesia, Director and Founder of Yayasan Nurani Dunia (Foundation for Humanitarian Aid to Victims of Social and Natural Disaster). The first decade of the new century has ushered in important shifts in the political terrain of the nation – most notably a new surge rightward in our major political institutions. How to best account for, and what “competing explanations and comparative perspectives” might be brought to bear to help better understand these developments? On Saturday, August 13 (12:30 pm) the second plenary, which is co-sponsored by SSSP, ABS, and SWS, will feature the distinguished historian, Dan T. Carter, two well-known legal scholars (Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres), and Tom Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas. Picking up a version of this theme for the Monday afternoon plenary will be political analyst Kevin Phillips, author of Wealth and Democracy.

Among several other tours and sight-seeing options, the local arrangements committee has arranged a walking tour of sites W.E.B DuBois described a full century ago in The Philadelphia Negro, most appropriate for the centennial. Check-in online for a full range of options, and sign up early to insure a place for taking in a range of historically rich environs. Welcome to Philadelphia.

Troy Duster
ASA President
Chair, 2005 Program Committee
New York University