Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blogging the OAH: Day Three

The third and final day of the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians featured a bonanza of sessions and events for legal historians. Among the day's offerings:

"Legal Thinking and Its Limits: Citizenship, Segregation, and the Corporation," a session chaired and moderated by Stewart Jay (Univ. of Washington Law) and Barbara Welke (Minnesota), with papers by Veta Schlimgen (Oregon), "Intermediate Citizens: 'American Nationals,' Filipino Americans, and U.S. Imperialism"; Sarudzayi Matambanadzo (UCLA), "(Dis)Embodying the Person, (Dis)Entangling the Body: The Rise of the Corporate Person from 1787 to 1850; and Camille Walsh (Oregon), "Claiming the Right to Education for Poor Children of Color, 1899-1936."

"Rules of Warfare: The History of Ethics and Behavior in Conflict," a session chaired by Ricardo Herrera (US Army Combat Studies Institute), with papers by Matthew Muehlbauer (Temple), "Fear, jus in bello, and the Pequot War"; S. Michael Pavelec (Naval War College), "International Law, Organizations, and War: Who Makes the Rules?"; and Paul J. Springer (USMA), "Peacetime Promises and Cold War Practices: The Geneva Conventions in Theory and Application."

At a session on "Sex, Race, and Empire across the West and the Pacific" chaired by Paul Kramer (Iowa), the audience heard a fascinating set of papers. Mary Lui (Yale) used the story of the 1950s goodwill tour of Korean-American Olympic diver Sammy Lee to explore gender, race, and nation in the reception of Cold War public diplomacy. In "The Insurgent Pacific: Race, Wars, and Antiradicalism before the First Red Scare," Moon-Ho Jung (Washington) connected William McKinley's assassination in 1901 and sedition laws in the colonial Philippines to make a provocative and compelling case for rethinking the origins of the U.S. security state. And Pablo Mitchell (Oberlin) drew on a complex 1923 pandering case in Los Angeles to explore meanings of race and sexuality in Latino America.

In the afternoon, I didn't get to attend the star-studded roundtable on the 100th anniversary of the NAACP because I was on panel of my own. Chaired by Beth Bailey (Temple), "Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth-Century Military" explored the confluence of military and domestic culture. I presented a paper on the efforts of Filipino veterans of World War II to achieve equity in benefits, and Kara Dixon Vuic (Bridgewater) presented fascinating material on women Red Cross volunteers in wartime Vietnam.

There was more, but the final highlight of the conference was at the Awards Ceremony, when Peggy Pascoe (Oregon) took home awards for political and cultural history for her amazing new book, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America.

See you in Washington next year!