Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage Established for San Diego Annual Meeting

To implement a resolution passed at the 2009 annual meeting, the AHA Council has formed a working group to create a threaded miniconference, which will explore historical perspectives on same-sex marriage at the 2010 meeting in San Diego. The working group includes Kristin Hoganson (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) representing the 2010 Program Committee, Leisa Meyer (William and Mary Coll.) as co-chair of the AHA’s LGBTQ Task Force, and James Green (Brown Univ.), as well as the AHA vice presidents—Karen Halttunen of the Teaching Division, David Weber of the Professional Division, and Iris Berger of the Research Division. As charged by the Council and AHA President Laurel Ulrich, the group is working to generate special panels and sessions, minimally one for each of the eight major time slots at the convention. We also intend to generate programming on our theme for breakfast and lunch slots, and at least one evening plenary session.

Our goal is to include histories of marriage and sexuality that range across historical time, geographic space, and thematic focus. Panels currently under consideration for this special program address such topics as late medieval marriage law and practice, the imperial politics of marriage in colonial India and colonial America, miscegenation law in the United States, male domestic partnerships in turn-of-the-century Europe and America, marriage and modernity in 20th-century Brazil, the historical relationship between the issues of gays in the military and same-sex marriage, teaching the history of sexuality, historians’ participation in amicus briefs concerning same-sex marriage, and historical reflections on California’s Proposition 8.

The passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008 coincides with a significant expansion of historical scholarship on the subjects of marriage, sexuality, and the social constructions of domestic union. In San Diego in January 2010, we will be featuring some of this cutting-edge scholarship that is illuminating our understanding of these complex and historically contingent institutions and practices. We will arrange press coverage and invite public participation from San Diego and the surrounding communities to publicize the AHA’s position on equity and equal rights.

The working group’s programming ideas are still in development, and we welcome your thoughts and suggestions for additional topics and panels. Please e-mail your ideas by May 1, 2009, to Noralee Frankel, AHA’s assistant director for women, minorities, and teaching, who serves as the staff member of the working group.

Karen Halttunen (Univ. of Southern California) is vice president of the AHA’s Teaching Division, and chairs the Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage.

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