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The Western

March 24 – 26, 2016
Manchester Hyatt, San Diego, California

The Western Political Science Association will host its 2016 annual meeting at the Manchester Hyatt, San Diego, California, March 24 – 26, 2016. Please make plans to attend and encourage others to join us!

In May, the association will distribute a call for papers. The DEADLINE for submission of paper proposals/program participation forms will be September 14, 2015.

If you are interested in shaping the content of the program by serving as a section chair, please contact:

Julie Novkov
2016 WPSA Program Chair
University at Albany (SUNY)
Email: jnovkov@albany.edu

Theme: The Politics of Peril and Opportunity

In 2016, we gather in San Diego, a city that crystallizes the politics of peril and opportunity. It is the principal home port of the Navy’s Pacific fleet, but also home to more than half a million immigrants, including about 180,000 undocumented immigrants. Occasionally threatened by wildfires and earthquakes, San Diego also hosts nearly two dozen institutions of higher education, including public, private, and non-profit colleges and universities, all of which are grappling with drastic changes in higher education. This beautiful and interesting place offers a chance to reflect on the politics and opportunities involved in naming and addressing peril.

This theme directs our attention to contemporary crises and to the political construction of crisis. Perils dominate the headlines and provoke demands for political solutions: ISIS, Ebola and other infectious diseases, a “broken” immigration system, failures in public primary and secondary education, internationally rising economic inequality and falling unionization rates, police violence and corrupt politics, climate change, Russian aggression, and a host of other concerns. In every scholar’s backyard as well loom concerns about changes in higher education in the United States and other countries, as faculty governance wanes, the use of contingent labor under exploitative conditions increases, and an economized bottom line increasingly becomes the yardstick for success in teaching and research.

The intersection of crisis and politics provokes a host of questions we can ask and answer about how events become crises and what consequences this has. How does a framework of peril change how politics happens or reshape the contours of state power? How are things constructed as threats? Alternatively, under what circumstances do some terrible things continue to happen without ever being understood as perilous to individuals, institutions, or a polity? Related questions resonate in normative registers as well.

The flip side of the theme of peril is opportunity, and scholars of politics are well situated to advance understanding of how dangers create political and institutional opportunities. Proposals considering how political actors, ideologies, and institutions respond creatively to crisis are welcomed, especially where scholars can critically analyze the allocation and reconfiguration of power in response to peril. Expanding agendas and institutions to address homeland security, immigration control, military and quasi-military threats, lack of public funding for education, and other problems warrant a close critical eye. We should also consider whether these or other crises create currently unimagined opportunities to achieve more just societies and states.

In the longstanding tradition of the Western Political Science Association, scholars are encouraged to place problems at the center of their research and explore these problems vigorously through whatever range of approaches best illuminates them. And likewise, we expect that concerns about individual, political, and structural inequities across a host of dimensions will animate many of our conversations.

Please join us in sunny San Diego to devote a weekend to understanding how we do – and should – grapple with these and other perils and opportunities.

Note: All participants in the program are required to preregister for the meeting by December 31, 2015.



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