44th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association - “Histories of Disadvantage: Meanings, Mechanisms, and Politics"

Event Information

The Hyatt Regency Hotel
United States
End Date
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The drivers and distribution of disadvantage remain as enduring concerns for social scientists. The unfairly disadvantaged has operated as a contested category, leading to schisms within and between groups, across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic divides, sometimes by virtue of gender, sexuality, faith, or flag. In recognition of these concerns, we seek panel proposals and papers that examine how history, politics, culture, institutions, and organizational practices shape (and are shaped by) these disadvantages. We also welcome papers that generate historically-informed theory and that thickly describe disadvantaged and disadvantaging life-worlds. We construe the topic of disadvantage broadly, including its causes and consequences as well as the shared understandings held by both the disadvantaged and those facilitating such conditions.

Although the work of social science historians and historically-informed social scientists has no limits in time or period, contemporary debates remind us of past important events that have affected disadvantage around the globe, including the Taiping Rebellion, the 1871 Brazilian Law of Free Birth, the 1874 failure of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust, the 1911 Mines and Works Act No 12 in South Africa, the 1935 Social Security Act (excluding agricultural workers and domestic servants), the 1944 GI Bill in the US, the 1945 dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Supreme Court decision giving married couples (but not unmarried women) the right to use birth control (Griswold v. Connecticut), the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, and the Court’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. We are interested in papers that explore these and other moments where disadvantages are re-set or put in motion, altering trajectories that are demographic, political, economic, or phenomenological in nature. As these examples suggest, the goals of social inclusion and political incorporation have pursued, but not
been limited to, material gains. We are therefore interested in work that addresses inequalities in the distribution of power, wealth, recognition and respect while attending to the historical particulars of the unexpected, the unrecognized, and the concealed.

The 2018 Program Committee seeks panel proposals that speak to the theme of “Disadvantage,” but we also welcome, as always, individual papers and panels on all aspects of social science history and historically-informed social science. (See the list of network organizers for the range of topics regularly engaged by conference panels.)