|After careful consideration, the graduate student planning committee for the UIUC History Department’s annual Women and Gender History Symposium has decided to cancel the conference in its traditional format for the 2014-2015 academic year, in solidarity with the academic boycott of the university and the campaign to reinstate Dr. Steven Salaita.|
The symposium, which would have been in its sixteenth year, has had an extraordinarily successful history, drawing papers from across the country, from multiple disciplines, and on a variety of groundbreaking topics. We have brought a number of highly respected academics to the symposium as keynote speakers, including Joan Scott, Sara Ahmed, Ann Stoler, and Luise White. The work presented at the conference has been innovative, thoughtful, and, as it is largely the work of graduate students, generally indicative of exciting new trends in the field of gender history and history at large. It is an event which has enriched the reputation of the University of Illinois on the national academic stage.
We had planned to come together in February 2015 around the theme of Dissent and Empire as a means to critique our university’s historical investment in empire, particularly in its refusal to eradicate “Chief Illiniwek” from this campus. As historians, we view the decision of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees as another manifestation of this university’s stake in the project of settler colonialism.
Thus the decision to cancel this year’s conference has by no means been easy. Yet, in light of the violation of academic freedom carried out by Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees in their unethical firing of Dr. Salaita, and their continued refusal to address this violation, we cannot in good faith hold an event which would endorse, tacitly or otherwise, our university’s position. We cannot and will not contribute to the university’s profits, which the trustees have proven is for them paramount above all things.
As a body, the graduate planning committee for the Women and Gender History Symposium strongly condemns the actions of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees and calls for the immediate reinstatement of Dr. Steven Salaita. We cancel our conference in solidarity with the number of academics and graduate students who are boycotting our university, and in solidarity with the number of conferences, talks, and lectures which are being cancelled as a result of the boycott. These cancellations will not stop until Dr. Salaita has rightfully been reinstated to his tenured position in the American Indian Studies department at UIUC.
|Beth Eby and Elizabeth Matsushita, co-chairs|
History Department, University of Illinois
309 Gregory Hall
810 S Wright St
Urbana, IL 61801
Visit the website at http://illinoiswghs.blogspot.com