Reaching for the Vision: The ATWS/AGSS Story*
By Paul A. Rodell and William Head
Harold Isaacs’ Vision and Third World Perspectives
The Association of Global South Studies (AGSS), the professional organization formerly known as the Association of Third World Studies (ATWS), originated because of the vision and life’s work of Professor Harold Isaacs of Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. Isaacs was a professor of Latin American history, who wanted to spread civic awareness of the “Non-Western” world beyond the classroom. He was also active in local politics and was a member of the “The Peanut Brigade” during the 1976 campaign for Jimmy Carter. For the world beyond American politics, he created an occasional lecture series, “Third World in Perspective,” that would involve the broader Americus community, as well as the on-campus student body and faculty.
Over the years, Professor Isaacs always considered the Third World in Perspective series to be very important and he continued it until his death in 2015. Scores of scholars gave freely of their expertise, many in repeated appearances, in exchange for little more than travel expenses and an extremely modest honorarium. Eventually, many of the programs were taped and rebroadcast on community access television. The sessions were always well attended with a significant community presence due to the outreach efforts that Isaacs made during his many years in Americus.
The Third World in Perspective series was critical to the founding of ATWS because of Professor Isaacs’ Georgia based speaker contacts. Some of these individuals later became the core of the new organization’s first professional conferences as well as co-founders and officers of the formal organization. Over the years, ATWS, and now AGSS, has benefited from the efforts of many people who gave, and continue to give, generously of themselves. Some individuals were especially key and the story of the organization’s growth is clearly reflected in their participation.
The Third World in Perspective program was also critical to the foundational objectives of ATWS which continue to define the organization. The first of these objectives is to provide forums where problems of the Third World (or the Global South) can be openly discussed and analyzed from a variety of academic perspectives. Forums such as this provide a place to understand those forces impacting global development and the destiny of so many people and nations. The next goal is the promotion of professional development not just through forums of discussion, but by encouraging research, publication, and classroom instruction. The third goal called for the facilitation of all forms of communication by sponsoring activities of various sorts that would bring people together. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the goal of enhancing the quality of life for the peoples of the third world either by ATWS/AGSS or in cooperation with private and public institutions.
The overall story of ATWS/AGSS has constantly been the efforts to fulfill each of these four goals. Members of the Association, whether individually or collectively, have always strived to do what they can to promote these four goals that Harold Isaacs enunciated back in the early 1980s. The challenge is as important today as it was then.
Early Key Members and Activities
One such early member was Bill Head, the Chief Historian at Robins Air Force Base, who saw an announcement for the second meeting in 1984. Head’s Ph.D. work was in U.S. foreign relations with East and Southeast Asia.
Among his areas of research was modern Chinese history and he mistakenly assumed that the Harold Isaacs to whom he wrote was a well-known China specialist. In a follow-up phone call Isaacs clarified who he was and the two had a good laugh as they formed an immediate bond. Head presented at that 1984 conference. He also collaborated with Isaacs on “dozens” of Third World in Perspective meetings in Americus.
Very shortly after beginning the annual conferences, Isaacs founded the Journal of Third World Studies to give further voice for the conference papers and as a vehicle for additional contributions from other scholars. Until his death Isaacs served as the journal’s lead editor. The first issues were basically proceedings, but in 1987 the publication adopted a true journal format. At that time, Isaacs had appointed four associate editors to assist him with each covering one of the world’s four non-Western regions: Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Head was tapped to become the first Asia Associate Editor, which position he filled until 1997. John Mukum Mbaku, then of the economics department of Kennesaw State University northwest of Atlanta, was the Africa Associate Editor until 2007. Meanwhile, Martin J. Collo, a political science professor at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, covered Latin America from this beginning until 1997, while Zia Hashmi of Georgia Southern University rounded out the first Associate Editor staff by covering the Middle East, which he did until 1991.
Zia Hashmi recalled that one October evening he received a phone call from Professor Isaacs who invited him to give a lecture for his Third World in Perspective series. The call was a surprise because Hashmi had never met or talked to Isaacs. The two worked out a topic for Hashmi’s presentation and this first visit was quickly followed by a second, which began a long friendship and ATWS partnership. Hashmi has related that after his second talk, Isaacs talked to him about the Association. Hashmi made an immediate commitment to his Americus colleague. Hashmi began attending the early ATWS meetings and hosted one annual meeting at Georgia Southern University and then another at his alma mater, the University of South Carolina. Hashmi characterizes these early meetings as an expanded version of the Third World in Perspective program and very congenial.
As noted above, in 1986 Hashmi accepted the Associate Editorship of the journal for the Middle East; but as ATWS became more professional rather than an informal annual conference, Isaacs asked Hashmi to become its Provisional Vice-President/President-Elect 1989-91. Isaacs was joined by Bill Head in prevailing on the initially reluctant Hashmi and Isaacs was then free to be the Provisional President and Secretary-Treasurer. Later, Hashmi was the first elected president in 1991-92. Isaacs, meanwhile, continued as Treasurer and John M. Mbaku, served as the first Secretary. Mbaku also served as vice president and then president in 1993-1994 and was instrumental along with Isaacs and Hashmi in organizing the 1994 conference at the College of William and Mary after the death of Mario Zamora, an internationally recognized anthropologist from that campus, who was to have served as host.
While these and other early members attended the annual meetings and contributed to the journal, ATWS itself became a more professional entity. In addition to the election of officers for positions, the organization was now guided by a constitution and by-laws. The impetus for ATWS’s institutionalization came in part from Hashmi, who stressed its importance to Isaacs who also saw the wisdom of developing a permanent structure. However, it was Bill Head, at Isaacs’ urging, who wrote the initial draft and then Hashmi and later Isaacs engaged in the process until a suitable document was finally finished. Isaacs would joke that Bill Head was ATWS’s Jefferson, while he was its Ben Franklin and Zia Hashmi filled the role of George Washington. In fact, the constitutional framework that these three founding fathers produced has served the organization well and has seen only minor changes in subsequent years.
One of the constitution’s innovations was the creation of the position of Executive Director that had a three-year term renewable upon approval by the Association’s Executive Council, which was also created in the new constitution. The idea behind the addition of the executive directorship was that an organization needed a home that could support its activities and a Director could carry out and oversee the initiatives decided by the Executive Council. The executive director could also provide continuity from one elected officer to another and assist in conference program development and local arrangements wherever needed. The first Executive Director was Zia Hashmi, who held the position from 1992-96 and ATWS as an organization was then based at his Center for International Studies, Georgia Southern University. As Hashmi approached retirement, he recruited his campus’s new history professor of Southeast Asia, Paul Rodell, to continue the work. The Executive Council gave their approval and the Georgia Southern Center maintained its support throughout Rodell’s tenure of two three-year terms.
Growth and Initiatives
While Georgia would remain a firm anchor for many years, the association soon attracted much broader attention and members from around the country and even internationally. While membership rolls would fluctuate over time, the growth was steady as new members joined. One of the concerns of the early key members was that the association should always be infused, as Zia Hashmi would say, by “new blood.” There was a recognition from the earliest days that an organization can only remain strong and vital by the intake of new, young members who bring with them energy and fresh thinking. This search for fresh faces is sometimes difficult for any organization, even one that was as young as ATWS. Instead of giving in to the temptation to turn to the familiar, the early leaders actively recruited junior faculty on their campuses and solicited participants for the annual conference and the journal.
Soon, many of the newer members were from states bordering Georgia, such as Florida and South Carolina, and when some Georgia members took new academic positions elsewhere they remained active members. This latter case was true, for example, of John Mukum Mbaku, who transferred to the economics department at Weber State University in Utah. But some new members were individuals who learned about the association through its annual conferences and the journal. Many were attracted by the broad base of the membership, which came from all over the world, and by the interdisciplinary nature of the conferences and journal. Within a few years, the Association had members in over forty states and countries.
The Association thus had remarkable success in its internationalization efforts. In line with Harold Issacs’ original vision, the Association soon had members in approximately 20 other countries. Many of these members were Africans who were recruited thanks to the efforts of U.S. based African members such as Mbaku and the dynamic A.B Assensoh of the University of Indiana, a noted scholar of Africa. Another prominent Africanist who became an important member of the Association was Toyin Falola, who holds an endowed professorship in the History Department of the University of Texas in Austin. Also, from that same research university in Texas was Juliu Ihonvbere, who was active for many years in ATWS and did work for the United Nations before he returned to his native Nigeria. These are just a few of the many prominent Africans who have contributed to the Association. Over the years, African academics contributed scholarly articles and book reviews to the journal as well as presenting many papers and roundtable discussions at the annual meetings.
In time some branches of the Association were created overseas. Two of those branches were in Nigeria and Kenya with the latter holding a number of conferences. For example, in 2005 the Kenya chapter held its sixth conference at the Western University College of Science and Technology in Kakemega, Kenya with conference participants coming from Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Meanwhile a South Asia chapter was created in Kerala, India by Dr. Isaiah Azariah who, sadly, passed away in 2005. That chapter remains active, however, and its fifteenth chapter conference was held in 2010. In recent years, members from India have hosted our annual conference, served on the association’s executive council, and Jyotirmarya Tripathy of the Indian Institute of Technology in Channai (formerly Madras) served as President in 2015-16 during the ATWS/AGSS transition period. Meanwhile, other past Presidents and members of the executive council are U.S. based academics who originally came from Africa and the Caribbean. When the Association says it is international, this is no idle boast, but a simple statement of fact.
While its membership was increasing and the composition broadening, the Association also initiated some new programs. One of the earliest initiatives was a Conference Proceedings begun in 1993 by Marcia Jones of the Department of Finance and Economics, Georgia Southern University after the association’s meeting at Pacific Lutheran College in Tacoma, Washington. By 1996 Nancy Shumaker, who had succeeded Zia Hashmi as the director of Georgia Southern University’s Center for International Studies was the sole editor of that year’s Proceedings. After some time, Harold Isaacs assumed the editorship from 2001 until 2005 when this publication was deemed too redundant to the work of the journal and publication ceased.
Another initiative was an occasional newsletter that started in the fall of 1994 under the editorship of Paul Rodell. The first issues were insert supplements to Georgia Southern University’s Center for International Studies own newsletter, International Perspectives. The following year, the newsletter became a separate publication and Marcia Jones, also of Georgia Southern, was made a co-editor. She took over the editorship the following year when Rodell became the Association’s executive director. Succeeding editors have included Bhim Sandhu (2001-09) of West Chester University of Pennsylvania and Chaitram Singh (2009-12) of Berry College in Rome, Georgia.
A third initiative was begun at the urging of former ATWS president Paul Magnarella, who was then at the University of Florida. Magnarella’s educational degrees included a Ph.D. in Anthropology with fieldwork in Turkey and a degree in law. With this academic background, Magnarella had worked on a variety of legal and peacekeeping projects with the United Nations in the Balkans and Rwanda. He proposed that ATWS seek “Consultative Status” as a non-governmental organization (NGO) to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). NGOs that have been granted Consultative Status may attend public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies and commissions, and submit written statements, or proposals, as well as make oral statements relevant to ECOSOC’s work. This status would allow the Association, through its official representatives, to have a direct impact on current issues and developments.
After more than a year of petitioning by Magnarella and Executive Director Hashmi, the Association was given the right to make a formal application for membership. The final paperwork was pushed through by incoming executive director Paul Rodell who also appointed Lauren Eastwood, then a graduate student at Syracuse University, to serve as the Association’s temporary representative. Ms. Eastwood could sit in on deliberations relevant to her dissertation in forestry while establishing an ATWS presence. Soon afterward, Charles Liebling was chosen as the Association’s New York representative with Magnarella an additional representative. The next representative was Julius Ihonvbere, who held the position until his return to his Nigerian homeland. The current representative is once again Dr. Lauren Eastwood, who teaches at SUNY Plattsburgh and was president of the Association in 2011-12. Meanwhile, Magnarella became the Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.
The Conferences, 1983-1998
Getting Started in Americus
As he expanded his vision, Harold Isaacs issued a call for papers to be read at what would be the first annual conference in 1983. This first meeting and the next one the following year were held at Isaacs’ home institution Georgia Southwestern College, now Georgia Southwestern State University. These were small gatherings with, for example, the second meeting in 1984 only having one morning and one afternoon session, but they generated interest and a loyal following. As well, they provided some grist for the mill of the journal, which further increased the association’s visibility. It was at the 1985 meeting, also in Americus, that the first real business meeting was held. At about that time, Isaacs, Head and Hashmi began to talk seriously about formalizing the organization and this discussion was continued at the meeting the following year. The 1987 meeting was the last time Georgia Southwestern was used as the venue. As well, it was the first time the meeting was held for more than one day. A musical group from the campus provided some entertainment and at the Association’s second business meeting a decision was made to formalize the Association and the next year’s meeting was scheduled for Savannah.
Spreading Out – Savannah and Statesboro, Georgia plus Gainesville, Florida
In 1988, Steve Rhee, another early member, hosted that sixth meeting when he brought the Association to his campus in Savannah, Armstrong Atlantic State University. Bill Head was able to get the Taiwan National Dance/Gymnastics group to come from Atlanta to perform at the conference banquet. This meeting demanded increased organizational skills as organizers had to learn how to find hotels for participants and develop driving directions. This was, of course, long before the days of Google and GPS, so the academics had to become logistics planners. Zia Hashmi organized the next conference in 1989 at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, which proved to be another good experience. The eighth annual meetings held in 1991 was the first held outside Georgia and was hosted by Paul Magnarella at the University of Florida. The attendees stayed at the university’s on-campus hotel and the guest speaker for the conference was the Nobel Prize winning former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, who also became an honorary member.
Building the Association in Philadelphia and Columbia, South Carolina
The year after again saw the organization going out of state to Pennsylvania for a meeting at Temple University. In casual meetings over dinner, Head and Isaacs began to discuss the possibility of holding a meeting outside the United States. Meanwhile, the 1992 meeting was held at the University of South Carolina with Zia Hashmi acting as host for a second time. This was Dr. Hashmi’s alma mater and he was well remembered by the international relations faculty who assisted with local arrangements. Participants also recall that the meeting was held in the midst of a hurricane that moved inland from the coast, which made for a bit too much excitement.
Exploring New Territory in the Pacific Northwest
In 1993 the Association’s third elected President, Edwin Clausen, served as host at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington in weather that was much improved over the previous year. Approximately 140 presenters joined 24 panels and roundtables for lively discussions. A highlight of the conference was the internationally renowned Cuban film director, Thomas Gutierrez Alea who gave a public lecture titled, “Another Cinema, Another World, Another Society. Meanwhile at the banquet Harvard sociologist, Orlando Patterson spoke on “The Concept of Freedom in the South and North.” Dr. Clausen eventually moved on to Daemen College in Amherst, New York, a near suburb of Buffalo, where he is now their president.
Colonial Williamsburg and a Larger Association
While each annual meeting seemed to attract more participants than the year before, the 1994 meeting held in Williamsburg, Virginia clearly demonstrated that the organization was coming into its own. At one point, the very meeting was in doubt when the local arrangements host Mario Zamora died of cancer. The combined efforts of Isaacs, Hashmi, and Mbaku, the incoming president appointed in the wake of Zamora’s death, saved the day and the conference was moved off the William and Mary campus to a nearby hotel and all of the meeting rooms and dining arrangements were quickly arranged. As it turned out, the twelfth meeting was not only the largest thus far, but its more than 200 participants on 41 panels and six roundtables came from all over the United States and each of the world’s major continents was represented. An especially large number of panels listed African participants. Unfortunately, visa difficulties and limited travel funds led to several cancellations by these and other international participants.
Since Williamsburg is relatively close to Washington, DC, several officials from a variety of embassies attended. Thus, there was the opportunity for Association members to dialogue with diplomats from the embassies of Israel and Pakistan as well as with representatives of the On-Site Inspection Agency of Washington that monitors the implementation of arms control agreements. The conference was a clear success even as the organization, which was little more than a decade old, was going through some growing pains. The conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear two important public lectures. The first was by Julius O. Ihonvbere from the University of Texas at Austin, an internationally renowned scholar of African politics and development, while the second was by Paul F. McCleary, President of the Christian Children’s Fund, who spoke on development needs of the world’s youth in disadvantaged areas of the world.
Continued Growth in Jacksonville
The next four meetings built on the association’s new growth and vitality. The 1995 meeting took place in Jacksonville, Florida and was hosted by the University of North Florida with Michael Bishku, who specializes in Islamic and Turkish history, in charge of the program. Meanwhile, local arrangements were ably handled by Tom Leonard, a distinguished professor of Latin America and U.S. relations in that region. This meeting brought the organization back closer to its Georgia roots. While the Jacksonville meeting was not as large as the year before, there were still 143 registrants from 27 states and the District of Columbia who served on 24 panels and four roundtables.
Of special note was the keynote speaker Halil Ugur, Turkmenistan’s ambassador to the United States. He described his country and spoke about the politics of this region of the former Soviet Union and invited the Association to hold a future meeting there. Another excellent speaker, the anthropologist Kathleen Logan of Florida International University, shared her thoughts at the following day’s luncheon session on the important topic of “Indigenous Peoples Participation in Latin America’s Democratization Process.” The conference also attracted new members, one of whom was Yi Sun, a newly minted Ph.D. in Chinese history who was then teaching at Albion College in Michigan. While she joined other academic associations, too, Sun kept her allegiance to ATWS even when she took a new position at the University of San Diego. Later, Sun became the journal’s Associate Editor for Asia, a position she still holds.
Meeting in Montgomery and Exploring Third Worlds
The following meeting in 1996 was hosted by Troy State University in Montgomery, Alabama and saw 28 panels and roundtables on a wide variety of development and human rights issues. The banquet’s inspiring guest speaker was The Honorable Consul-General Hoon Chang of the Republic of Korea, who was very upbeat in describing his country’s future especially in terms of economic development. While the interest of many conference participants was on “Third World” countries and issues of development, the key role that Montgomery played in America’s past could not be ignored.
The conference host, incoming president Don Simmons, who taught history at that institution, arranged a group visit to some of the historic sights of Montgomery, including the church where Martin Luther King began his fateful career of civil rights activism. That church is within sight of the state legislature building, which has a space marked off at its entrance where Jefferson Davis stood as he swore his oath of office as President of the Confederacy. Meanwhile, another short distance away are the legal offices of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done so much to fight continuing cases of discrimination in our courts. And finally, across the street from Troy State’s main building where the conference opening reception was held, is the bus stop and bench where Rosa Parks sat while waiting to board the bus on that historic day when she refused to move to the back. Third World in America?
Hartford: Critical Decisions and Fundamental Changes
The next conference took the association far north to New England. The fifteenth annual meeting in 1997 was hosted by Central Connecticut State University and held in Hartford. While this meeting presented peculiar challenges due to miscommunication that resulted in arrangements at the hotel that had not been made, the incoming President Marcia Jones, an economist at Georgia Southern University, and Paul Rodell as executive director stepped in to make the critical arrangements at the last minute. Fortunately, the actual meeting went well and participants were very pleased with the venue. Of particular interest during this meeting was the news of the ATWS’ newly gained Consultative Status to ECOSOC and the introduction of the association’s new representative to that body, Charles Liebling.
The Hartford meeting was especially well remembered by the Association’s officers for the extreme length of its Executive Council meeting where several critical decisions were made. The meeting itself was the longest Executive Council meeting to date at almost six full hours in length. Clearly, in a meeting of this length there were a number of issues that were deliberated, some more important than others. Among those of importance was the annual President’s Award and the criterion for its selection. After an extended discussion, it was determined that there should be only one award per year and that preference should be given to members of the Association. Also, there was an increase in the fee level for lifetime memberships and other organizational matters. However, most of the meeting was spent on the financial health of the Association and its journal.
By 1997 the organization’s semi-annual journal consumed almost the entire annual budget. There was also concern that the editor should not also be the Association’s treasurer. It was felt that the two positions must be under different individuals since the treasurer would have a different perspective about how the money should be allocated from that of a journal editor whose primary interest was the publication. The conjoining of these two issues put Isaacs’ leadership under examination and discussion. In this situation, many individuals who played a central role in the organization’s birth and growth might feel threatened or take such a discussion personally, Harold Isaacs was not that sort of person, though. Rather, he was genuinely interested in explaining his dual roles and showing how the conjoining of the positions was not harmful. However, after some discussion he was willing to bow to the feelings of the officers and board members and he actually welcomed the election of a separate treasurer since that would lighten his huge workload. The next election cycle saw Gary Kline of Georgia Southwestern State University chosen as the Association’s second treasurer. This selection was especially opportune since Kline and Isaacs were not only on the same campus, but were also department colleagues who already had a long and congenial relationship.
The meeting continued to focus on the journal and its cost, which many felt could be greatly reduced. The main areas of concern were the many pages of free advertisements given to other journals that greatly increased the cost, the font size which was very large and the need to introduce competitive bidding for the printer’s services, which seems far too high. On these and other lesser points, Harry was much more reluctant to change course until board member Nancy Shumaker offered her comments. Shumaker was associated with The Latin Americanist, the journal of the Southeast Council of Latin American Studies, so she spoke with editorial and financial knowledge that most others in the room lacked. Isaacs’ graduate work and personal academic focus was on Latin America so he was well acquainted with the journal and had a great deal of respect for it. As she spoke, Isaacs’ became more relaxed as she made her arguments based on her knowledge and experience. In the end, her arguments carried the day and Isaacs agreed to all that the Executive Council asked. How many founders of an organization would have been so receptive as Isaacs to the fundamental change and shedding of power he accepted in Hartford? Throughout the marathon meeting, Isaacs kept cool and focused and always adhered to the strength and growth of the Association as his guiding light.
Durham a Welcome Respite in a Warm Atmosphere
After the epoch 1997 Hartford meeting, the following year saw a new development under incoming President Rolin Mainuddin as the meeting was held at North Carolina Central University, a traditionally Black University, in Durham. Mainuddin had already served the Association by creating a comprehensive directory and some time after his presidency he became an Associate Editor for the Middle East section of the journal (2003-2006). This conference maintained the Association’s usual size of 40 panels and roundtables under the theme of “Rhetoric Versus Action: The Challenge of Policy Implementation.” Serving as keynote speaker was former president John Mukum Mbaku, who gave an inspirational talk entitled, “Preparing the Third World for the New Millennium.”
Recognition for Scholarship and Service
Zamora and Reddick Awards, 1994-Present
The second “Objective” that Isaacs originally identified included the encouragement of research, publication and teaching about the Third World. With the creation of an annual series of conferences (or “forums” as called for in the first Objective), attention turned to creating specific awards to fulfill the second Objective. In 1992, President Paul J. Magnarella took an initial step when he established the Mario D. Zamora Award for the best article published in JTWS during the preceding year. Recipients were recognized in 1994 and 1995, but the award process soon languished and has not been given since (See Appendix II). This first attempt to create an award to recognize individual scholarship was soon followed up in 1995 when A.B. Assensoh and Yvette Alex-Assensoh created the Lawrence Dunbar Reddick Memorial Scholarship Award with the assistance of John Mukum Mbaku and Harold Isaacs. This award is given to the author of the best article on Africa published in the journal during the preceding academic year. Since 1996 the Riddick Award has been given every year except 2013 (See Appendix III).
The Currey Award, 1996-Present
Two years after the founding of the Riddick Award, Bill Head created an award for the best book published by a member of the Association during the previous year. The first recipient was Cecil B. Currey, who was so appreciative of the honor and aware of the importance of such an award that he generously donated substantial funds for its continuance. In recognition of Dr. Currey’s generosity, the Executive Council voted on October 11, 1997 to name award the “Cecil B. Currey Book-Length Publications Award.” Since that time, the award has been given annually with one set of co-winners in 2013 and occasional notices of honorable mentions. In recent years, recipients other than Association members have been included in the candidate pool, but members have still won a substantial number of the awards (See Appendix IV).
The Toyin Falola Award, 2005-Present
The most recent scholastic award for writing and research is the Toyin Falola Africa Book Award, established in 2005. This award was created and funded by Toyin Falola, one of Africa’s outstanding historians and intellectuals, for the best book published on Africa in the past year. The first of these awards was given in 2006 and has been presented every year since with a co-winner in 2008 and an occasional honorable mention also given credit for their achievement (See Appendix VI).
The Presidential Award, 1992-Present
In addition to these awards for academic achievement there are other awards that also encourage the membership in their various efforts. The earliest of these is the prestigious Presidential Award that was created by Dr. Paul Magnarella in 1992. This award is given to members who have made significant contributions to the Association in furtherance of its founding objectives. Originally, the nominees should have served as an officer of ATWS and/or member of Board of Editors of JTWS, although from the first individuals that did not fit this profile such as Oscar Arias Sanchez were recipients. In its board meeting of 1997, the Executive Council mandated that there may be no more than one recipient of the award per year as was mentioned in the discussion of the Hartford Executive Council meeting. It is the outgoing President who decides and bestows this honor whether in consultation of a special committee or by their unilateral decision (See Appendix I).
The Harold Isaacs Graduate Student Award
This Award was created in 2001 by Robert Curry to honor the founder of ATWS and is given to the author of the best graduate student paper presented at the annual ATWS meeting (See Appendix IV). Curry was added to the Executive Council in 1986 and he then proposed the creation of a committee for teaching. Such a committee was created and he was made its first chair of the committee that he led until he wished to step down. He then recommended that he be replaced by Lily Mendoza. It was during his tenure on the Teaching Committee that the award was created. Winning student papers were frequently published in the journal, which served as an added attraction for young scholars.
Internationalizing the Annual Conferences, 1999-2005
Costa Rica and Breaking with the Past
While the prospect of holding the annual conference outside of the United States had first been discussed at the 1991 meeting at Temple University, casual discussions continued over the next few years. By 1996 the discussion took a more serious turn as others besides Isaacs, Head and Hashmi were introduced to the idea. At the following year’s conference in 1997 the Executive Council gave a “Green Light” to Tom Leonard to plan for a meeting in Costa Rica that the Board could then review and give final approval. Leonard made his report at the Central Connecticut meeting in 1998 setting the goal of holding the following year’s meeting in coordination with the University of Costa Rica in San Jose, the national capital.
To assist in the planning and execution of this first international meeting, Leonard asked to meet with the three individuals who he would be working with most closely; Isaacs, Executive Director Rodell, and Treasurer Kline. The meeting was held in Americus, Georgia where a number of issues about the hotel, keynote speakers, and the date for the conference were to be decided. Leonard also detailed the relationship that he had established with Mercedes Munoz Guillen, the Director of the School of History at the University of Costa Rica. She would help with local arrangements and encourage her faculty to participate. The Costa Ricans were especially concerned that the usual date for the Association’s meetings was on the second weekend of October, which had been a tradition Isaacs set from the beginning. They pointed out that the weather in Costa Rica at that time of the year was not the best since it was still the rainy season and they wanted us to enjoy better weather. They requested that we select a date in November instead.
As the group examined the following year’s calendar, Rodell suggested the conference should be held just before the start of Thanksgiving as long as enough time would remain after the meeting for participants to return home if they wished to celebrate the American holiday there. His thinking was that students would not mind classes being cancelled before a holiday and if conference goers wanted to stay behind to see something of the country besides the meeting venue, they would have the vacation time to do so and could bring their families for a holiday. Leonard immediately saw the wisdom of this plan and after some consideration Isaacs and Kline were solidly on board. This timing strategy has since been adopted for international meetings held in the Americas, while a different timing has sometimes been employed for venues across the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans for which this pattern does not work as well.
The Costa Rican meeting was a resounding success with 45 panels and roundtables, which was excellent since this international meeting actually attracted more participants than some domestic venues. Part of the reason for the healthy number of participants was the participation of Costa Rican academics who augmented the contingent from the US. The keynote speaker, meanwhile, was Nobel Laureate and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who gave a thought-provoking speech, “Confronting Debt, Poverty, and Militarism: A Humane Program of Support for the Developing World.” The speech was published in the next issue of the journal.
In the Executive Council meeting at the conference, the officers were so elated with this success that the decision was made to hold more meetings overseas. There was one caveat to that decision, which was that the international meetings should be in a three year rotation with U.S. based conferences, so there would be two domestic meetings and then an international meeting. The thinking behind this decision was that not all members would be able to make more frequent international meetings. So, for their sakes and to offer U.S. based meetings where non-members could more conveniently and inexpensively attend and be introduced to the Association, a two and one rotation seemed to make the most sense.
A Mile-High Conference in Denver
The start of a new decade saw the Association going back out west to Denver where the annual gathering of 2000 was hosted by Metropolitan State College. Steve Rhee was the incoming president who put together the program while local arrangements were handled by Norman Proviser, Director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership. Together they did an excellent job in this exciting western city. The meeting was smaller than the previous year with thirty panels and roundtables for the participants, but the discussions were lively and the mile-high city exhilarating, even if breath was sometimes short. The keynote address was delivered by the Honorable Yoo Tae-Hyun, Consul-General of the Republic of South Korea in San Francisco. At that year’s executive council meeting, Shu-hui Wu of Mississippi State University proposed that the next international meeting be in her native Taiwan to which the Executive Council quickly agreed.
Return to Savannah – the Post-9/11 World
The following year, the conference returned to Georgia when, for a second time, Steve Rhee served as local arrangements chair along with Paul Rodell while the incoming President, Karim Abdul Bangura, developed the program. This was in 2001 and the conference was scheduled for October, one short month after the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. Both Rhee and Rodell, as co-host and Executive Director, were concerned about possible negative public reactions in Savannah to the conference and against some of its participants who had either Islamic names or names that were clearly not mainstream American. In the end, however, they concluded that there was little they could do but rely on the sophistication of Savannah’s local population. Their faith turned out to be well founded and the conference was held without incident.
The meeting itself saw 250 people participate in over 40 panels and roundtables, making this the best attended conference thus far in the Association’s history. The opening reception featured a Korean Traditional Classic “Palace” Dancing Performance by members of the Korean United Methodist Church of Savannah, which was narrated by Mrs. Sara Rhee. Friday and Saturday luncheon speakers were Nancy Shumaker, Zia Hashmi’s successor as Director of Georgia Southern University’s Center for International Studies, and Joe Amoako a Professor of Linguistics and African Languages at Delaware State University. Meanwhile, the provocative keynote address by Professor Ali A. Mazrui, “Globalization between the Market and the Military: A Third World Perspective,” received mixed reactions from the participants.
Taiwan – the First Asian Meeting
The 2002 conference was held in Taipei at the National Taiwan University with the Department of Economics acting as the official host. A different meeting date was set for this gathering because the travel time between the eastern United States and Taiwan is at least 20 hours, including layovers. So, a meeting set for the Thanksgiving break as was done for the Costa Rica meeting did not make sense. Delegates would only have time to arrive, participate in the meeting and then turn around and go back home to their classes. Again, Rodell’s suggestion for an immediate post-Christmas conference was accepted. With this schedule, everyone could celebrate Christmas with their families and then get a flight to Taipei for the conference, which would begin a few days later. After the conference, participants could return home for New Year’s Eve or remain in Taiwan or travel to other places nearby such as mainland China, Japan, or Southeast Asia until the start of the spring semester. This schedule worked out well and some participants even brought their families for a holiday adventure while others pursued research or travel interests.
While smaller than the Costa Rican meeting, the conference still featured approximately 30 panels and roundtables as arranged by program chair and in-coming President William Head. While past hosts had always been accommodating, our Taiwanese host broke all previous records as participants were treated to three multicourse banquet dinners. The first was held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei and was hosted by university president Chen Wei-Jao, who shared numerous toasts with the conference participants. The visitors soon learned that in China there will be many toasts and the survival trick is not to drink the entire porcelain cup of rice wine at each toast. Instead, raise the cup in a salute and then bring it to your lips and take just a sip. That is really all that is required. Since there were well over a dozen toasts, anyone who tried to drink a full cup at each toast was soon in trouble.
The second banquet was hosted by Michael Ying-mao Kau, the Deputy Foreign Minister who gave an address, “Opportunities and Challenges: Taiwan’ Diplomacy in the Globalization Era.” His talk was then published in the next issue of the journal. The Keynote Banquet was hosted by the Chair of the National Policy Foundation, Dr. Chan Lien, in the Kuomintang Party Building’s rooftop dining room that offered a breathtaking view of the modern city. The actual address was given by Taipei’s young mayor, Ying-Jeo Ma, who gave an inspiring speech that night about his government’s efforts to spread the internet throughout the city and country. He was extremely dynamic and it was no surprise that he later became the country’s president from 2008-2016.
As part of the conference planning, Shu-hui Wu built in a number of side trips, including a visit to the famous museum on a mountainside across the river from the main city. This museum held many exquisite art objects that Chiang Kai-shek brought to the island as the nationalist government on the mainland fell to Mao Zedong’s communist forces in 1950. Preserving and protecting China’s cultural past was the rationale for this treasure’s transfer to the island of Taiwan and it is a wonder. Very few places in the world offer so much Chinese art from so many dynasties at a single location. The tour also included the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Taipei Shopping Center.
Though not as large as the Savannah meeting, due to distance and travel costs, participants were moved by the experience, which confirmed the wisdom of holding meetings overseas – even far from American shores. The Executive Council was also impressed by the work that Professor Wu did for the meeting and voted to make her the new executive director after Paul Rodell, who had first announced his intention not to seek a third term during the business meeting in Denver two years earlier. Dr. Wu accepted the position and shortly thereafter began her three year term in that office.
Cajun Country Louisiana
The next two meetings returned the Association to its southern roots. The twenty-first meeting was held in Shreveport at Louisiana State University where William Pedersen had founded the International Lincoln Center for American Studies. Pedersen is an enthusiast of Abraham Lincoln and is intent on discovering and publicizing the impact of the Civil War American president on the world. When he first came to Louisiana State, his political science department colleague was Norman Proviser who introduced Pedersen to Harold Isaacs and ATWS before leaving there for his current position at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Pedersen’s first meeting was the one in Taiwan and it made such an impression on him that he immediately offered his campus as the site for the following year’s meeting.
Though “off the beaten track,” LSU turned out to be an excellent choice for a very productive conference that included wonderful hotel accommodations and gracious hospitality. This was a smaller meeting than other recent ones with twenty-five panels and roundtables with in-coming president A.B. Assensoh serving as program chair. Notable presentations included Gary Kline’s opening session speech titled, “The Contours of the Bush Policy,” while Michael Sartisky who headed the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities spoke on “Louisiana and the Third World: Shared Historical, Cultural, Political and Economic Factors.” Meanwhile, the keynote was delivered by Thelma Thompson, the President of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, while William Head’s presidential address raised the fitting question and answer, “Where Do We Go from Here: Let Our Past Be Our Guide to the Future.”
Meeting in Macon
The following year the Association met in Macon, Georgia with Bill Head serving as host. The meeting had some unique problems because the incoming president, Andrew Clark of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington took sick and had to return home early. Fortunately, A.B. Assensoh and the Association’s Secretary Lauren Eastwood stepped up to make everything work out. Though smaller than the previous year, participants still enjoyed the annual get-together in their panels and roundtable discussions. The meeting’s keynote speaker, Rodney Anderson, gave a poignant talk with cautionary tales for today’s society in, “Lessons from History on the Limits of Imperialism: Successful Small State Resistance to Great Power Aggression.” In his presidential address A.B. Assensoh offered a critical reminder to all academics as he spoke on, “Africa, Third World Studies, and Our Responsibilities as Researchers.” At that year’s meeting, the Executive Council approved the next year’s venue for Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, as the third time the Association would hold its annual gathering outside the United State.
Sojourn to the Dominican Republic
The 2005 meeting was organized by Michael Hall of Armstrong Atlantic State University who had originally been recruited into the Association by Steve Rhee. After undergraduate school, Hall went to the Dominican Republic with the U.S. Peace Corps and he maintained a close connection to the country through familial ties, his own research and writing, and by leading student trips to the country. This annual meeting was again held just before the Thanksgiving break and was well attended with the conference holding 27 panels and roundtables. On the banquet program was the keynote address by Matias Bosch, who heads up his family’s foundation. Bosch talked about his grandfather in, “Juan Bosch: The Construction of Dominican Democracy.” Meanwhile, Hall pinch-hit for Andrew Clark who could not attend due to the sudden death of his brother. In place of the traditional presidential address, Hall spoke to the delegates on, “The Transition from Democracy to Dictatorship in the Dominican Republic,” continuing the Dominican theme of the evening. Once the formal meeting concluded, a number of attendees went on a trip to an island off the coast and those who lingered into Thanksgiving Day enjoyed a superb special American-style meal specially prepared by the hotel’s staff.
At this meeting, the executive council made two important decisions and a critical transition took place. The first council decision was the designation of a new executive director since Shu-hui Wu decided not to seek a second three-year term. Chosen to replace her was William Pederson, who had impressed everyone with his ability to organize meetings and who offered the support of his International Lincoln Center at LSU in Shreveport for the Association. The council also decided to change the meeting schedule strategy from a two domestic and one international meeting to a one-to-one ratio of the two venue types. Meanwhile, the critical transition was the handover of the office of Treasurer from Gary Kline, who had served since 1999, to Doyin Coker-Kolo, who was newly elected to the position. Coker-Kolo had come to know ATWS as a faculty member at Georgia Southwestern and became a good friend of Harold Isaacs. At the time of her election, she was in the process of leaving Americus for a new position as the Associate Dean of the College of Education at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. She began the transition in Santo Domingo and the passing of this critically important office was carried out smoothly thereby assuring the continuity of financial policies and procedures.
Increasing the Conference Internationalization 2006-2014
Back to North Carolina
The 2006 meeting was held at Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina with Emmanuel I. Udogu of Appalachian State University serving as program chair in his role as Vice President/President elect. The conference participation that year went back up to past levels with 33 panels and roundtables. The opening reception for the meeting was especially noteworthy for the entertainment provided by Winston-Salem’s Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble that explored the heritage and culture of African, Modern, and Jazz dance. Meanwhile, the keynote speaker at the concluding banquet was Robert Fatton from the University of Virginia whose address analyzed “Imperial Globalization,” while Michael Hall’s presidential address explored “The Impact of the U.S. Peace Corps at Home and Abroad.”
Hospitality of the Incas
In keeping with the new alternate year schedule, the twenty-fifth anniversary meeting was held in 2007 in Lima, Peru. Again, the number of panels and roundtables increased to 45 and the participant level rose to 130. In addition to the high level of scholarship presented at this meeting, the conference is also well remembered for the amazing welcome reception provided by the Peruvian Folklore group that put on an exciting show the audience will always remember. Meanwhile, the keynote speaker was one of the best that has ever spoken before the Association. Gary Kline tapped his brother Mark to talk about his work with the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Mark Kline, M.D. heads up the Baylor College of Medicine’s International Pediatric AIDS Initiative. His presentation “AIDS in Africa: On the Cusp of Hope,” left the assembled conference participants awestruck by the work that Dr. Kline and his team are doing. In recognition of his work, and that of his team, Dr. Kline was presented with a special ATWS Humanitarian Award. Though this presentation was the proverbial “tough act to follow,” Emmanuel I. Udogu’s presidential address continued to hold the audience’s attention as he spoke about “The issue of Political Leadership in the Third World: What Is to Be Done?” It became clear that issues of public health, especially for children, and the political life of a country are intimately related.
As was the case with the earlier international conferences, many delegates chose to remain after the conference and use the Thanksgiving break to see the country. Many took in the sights of Lima’s historic section, which was close to the hotel, and then went on further adventures. Some went to the pre-Hispanic capital of Cuzco and from there took a mountain train to fabled Machu Picchu. Still others spent time along the coast and took special tourist flights to view the mysterious Nazca lines that the ancient Incas laid out as massive hieroglyphics for their gods to view from the heavens above. Yet others visited Caral in the Supe Valley, the most ancient city of the Americas.
Meeting in Amish Country
The 2008 conference saw the Association return to the United States where the meeting was held at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, the new academic home of Treasurer Doyin Coker-Kolo who was host. The meeting featured twenty-five panels and roundtables and all events were based in an excellent hotel near the campus. The banquet featured entertainment by the “Imani Edu-Tainers,” a dance group from nearby Lancaster. Meanwhile the keynote address “The Colonial in the Global: Where Does the Third World Fit?” was delivered by Hunter College sociology professor Marnia Lazreg and Gary Kline’s presidential address asked “Who Will Speak for the Voiceless?” This area of the state is home to the Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch. The hills and valleys are green and well cared for while local stores carry unique treats such as shoofly pie. After conference activities included trips on a local rehabilitated vintage steam powered train and a superb railroad museum and excellent eateries and stores in nearby Lancaster, as well as the Presidential home of James Buchanan the 15th U.S. President, who was succeeded by Abraham Lincoln.
Off to Africa
The twenty-seventh annual meeting set a new precedent, being the first time that the Association went to Africa. Again held during the time of the U.S. Thanksgiving break, the actual meeting was held at the beautiful Elmina Beach Resort, Cape Coast, Ghana. Approximately 100 attendees came from the U.S., Africa, and others parts of the world to participate in 18 panels and roundtables. The new President, Peyi Soyinka-Airewele of Ithaca College, pushed for the conference site and assembled a large contingent of African members to work toward the meeting in concert with local contacts Drs. Richard Amuah and Abane and the Conference Secretary Dr. Sylvia Kwakye. The meeting’s keynote address, “Diasporas’, Mobility, and the Social Imaginary: Getting Ahead in West Africa,” was delivered by Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele’s presidential address was “Emergent Discourses of Audacity and the Revocation of Marginality.” Entertainment at the reception and the banquet was provided by the Cultural Dance and Music Troupe, Elmina/Cape Coast, Ghana. After the conference many of the participants went on tours of historic sites in the Cape Coast area, which were greatly enjoyed.
Third Time is a Charm – Especially If It’s Savannah
The Association returned to Savannah for a third time in 2010 for its twenty-eighth meeting with an upbeat theme, “A Confident Third World: Facing the Multi-Dimensional Challenges of the Twenty-First Century.” In-coming president Assefaw Bariagaber of Seton Hall University tasked the staff of his university’s Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations of which he is the chair, to help him organize a strong conference program. Though not as large as previous Savannah conclaves, there were still 27 panels and roundtables and well over 100 participants for the October meeting. The keynote speech was given by Bereket Habte Selassie from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, while the Association’s president Mario Fenyo’s presidential address discussed the “Dialectics of Human Migration.” Banquet Entertainment was provided by Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Gospel Choir, “The Anointed Voices,” and tours of nearby Old Fort Jackson and Tybee Island were organized by local arrangements chair Michael Hall.
Trip to the Southern Cone – Brazil
The twenty-third meeting was held in the original Portuguese colonial capital of Brazil, Salvador da Bahia in the northeast of the country far from better known cities such as Rio or San Paulo. Again this overseas meeting was held shortly before Thanksgiving, which served as an additional attraction for the 90 attendees who participated in 25 panels and roundtables. In 2011 some of the country’s later economic problems were not yet evident and the country seemed prosperous and the urban residents comfortable. Lauren Eastwood, the incoming president, served as program chair for the event, which added to her already impressive resume of service to the Association having already been its Secretary for two three-year terms, while Michael Hall was the site coordinator once again. Preceding the meetings many attendees went on a tour of Salvador conducted by Condor Travel that had served the Association so well in Peru four years earlier.
The conference banquet was remembered for the beautiful location atop a high-rise building on the ocean front that offered impressive views of the Atlantic on one side and of Salvador on the other, especially later in the evening when the city lit up. Attendees also remember the long program with many awards for the Association’s productive scholars and the impressive but very long paper delivered by President Assefaw Bariagaber. In addition to the conference panels and banquet festivities, many of the participants who remained afterward took in the local culture of the Candomble religion that combines ritualized music and dance with spiritualism based on strong African roots. This area of Brazil saw the importation of millions of slaves from the African continent who worked on Portuguese sugar plantations. The Candomble served as a source of cultural continuity and as an anti-colonial rallying point that fostered huge slave revolts. Meanwhile, Hall also arranged a post-conference trip through the countryside to farms and the Dannemann cigar factory where visitors could try to hand roll a cigar for themselves.
To the Mountains of North Georgia – Berry College
After Brazil, the conference returned to the Georgia where approximately 100 attendees from around the world participated in 35 panels and roundtables at Berry College in the beautiful hill country of north Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachians. The meeting was hosted by in-coming president John Hickman who made the meeting a first-rate success. As part of his conference arrangements the inspiring keynote address was delivered by Dean David Bruce Conn of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Berry College. In his talk Dean Conn pointed to the link between United States foreign policy and global health policies and how drastically the former impacts the latter. The conclusion being that improved world health may have medical requirements but there is also a strong need for attention by global elites and their governments if medical possibilities are to become realities. Music for the banquet was provided by the Berry Jazz Combo and afterward the crowd was rocked by the Kofi Mawulo Band that brought the house down with their pulsating rhythm and horn sections. This was a fitting good time to a successful meeting in the north Georgia hills.
Return to Asia – Chennai, India
The thirty-first annual meeting was held at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in the city of Chennai. Since this was very distant from the United States with air flights taking upwards of 24 hours, this meeting was also held shortly after Christmas so participants could be with their families and then leave for the conference. The local host, Jyotirmaya Tripathy, deserves special credit for lining up his prestigious technical institute so solidly behind the event, which ran very smoothly. All the meetings were held on campus with economical accommodations at a hotel adjacent to the Institute. The campus covers a huge area in the center of a large and highly populated city. The grounds actually contained deer that would roam around, plus bands of monkeys were ever on the lookout for unguarded food or shiny possessions in unattended purses or bookbags.
The conference was not large, with less than 100 participants on 17 panels. But the discussions were especially enlivened by cross-cultural exchanges between the visitors and local participants. The program was arranged by the ever lively Lisa Say who comes from the private sector, specifically the Policy Analysis Institute, where she specializes in conflict mediation. Of especial importance to the participants was the keynote address by the internationally renowned poet and literary critic Sitakanta Mohapatra.
Leading up to the meeting, participants were given a guided tour of Chennai (the original name for Madras, which was the name that the colonizing British gave to the place). This tour covered the city’s major attractions, which would have been almost impossible for individual travelers to visit without a guide and private driver. After the conference, there was an optional trip to Mahabalipuram, a World Heritage site 60 kilometers south of Chennai. Its origins go back to the first century CE and as a port it rose to prominence by the 6th and 7th centuries. The site is home to hundreds of stone works of temples, statues, and sacred natural anomalies such as Buddha’s butter ball, a large rounded rock teetering on the edge of a sharp drop off.
Second Visit to Denver for the 32nd Conference
As incoming president and program chair, Norman Proviser invited the Association to return to Metropolitan State University in Denver in 2014, where the eighteenth meeting had been held in 2000. The campus had grown larger and added a hotel and management school. It was in the school’s hotel where the 75 participants stayed as they joined various panels and roundtables discussing issues that would define events in the coming millennium, the conference theme. The keynote address was given by Ved Nanda, who continued the theme by looking at the coming decade in his remarks. Professor Nanda is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Denver’s Strum College of Law.
The Loss of Our Founder, July 10, 2015
On a sad note, Denver was the last conference that founder Harold Isaacs was destined to attend. In Denver, Harry looked weak and gaunt, but he continued to carry on with the business of the conference and his beloved Association. After landing in Atlanta, he twice stumbled and was so weak that he had to be helped back up. As Gary Kline mentioned in his remembrance of Harry, one of the strangers who helped him commented, “Sir you’re yellow. You don’t look well.” After returning to his home in Americus, a trip to the doctor’s office and follow-up tests revealed the pancreatic cancer that was eating away at his body. He continued to function as best he could, and he even played a few rounds of golf with Bill Head as late as a couple of weeks before his death. He was also hard at work until the end, putting out another issue of the journal. On July 10, 2015 Harry joined his beloved wife Doris who had preceded him by four years. They lie beside each other in the Jewish section of the Riverside Cemetery in Albany, Georgia.
The year before on December 8, 2014, Georgia Southwestern State University held a special celebration in honor of their Emeritus Professor Harold Isaacs as they named the conference room of the History and Political Science Department after him. University President Kendall Blanchard and Gary Kline organized the ceremony that included the reading of a state proclamation in honor of Isaacs by Representative Mike Cheokas. In addition, several individuals from the campus and the Americus community shared their thoughts and spoke their praise to the honoree.
This was not the first time that Isaacs had been honored during his life for the many long years of service to his department that totaled 49 years of teaching – first full-time and then part-time since his official retirement in 2005. In May 2005 shortly before that “retirement,” Isaacs was honored as an inaugural recipient of the University System of Georgia “Regents’ Hall of Fame Awards.”
Carrying the Vision into the Future
Honoring the Founder and Continuing His Objectives, Quito, Ecuador
While at his last meeting in Denver, Harold asked Michael Hall to organize a fifth meeting in the Americas, this time in Quito, Ecuador. Despite Hall’s reluctance to monopolize the conference planning, he agreed and began to make the arrangements. Again, in the days just before the Thanksgiving vacation, the Association headed off to an international conference. Quito played host to 69 participants who met in sixteen panels and roundtables. Before the conference, early arrivals went on an extended train trip outside the city. On the first day of the conference many participants also took a tour of the city and its immediate environs that included the geologic meridian where north and south meet in such a perfect balance that an egg stood upright will balance itself once the exact spot where the forces of north and south are equaled is located. The keynote speaker at the banquet was Greg Jacobs of the U.S. Peace Corps in Ecuador, who offered “Reflections on the Training of US Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador.” During the actual meeting, Jacobs assembled a panel of current volunteers who had a productive dialogue with Association members. Then, after the conference ended, Hall organized a day trip to the Otavalo Market far outside the city.
Quite beyond the usual panels, banquet speakers and side trips, participants were keenly aware of the absence of founder Harold Isaacs. His presence was missed on personal levels by everyone. So individual members could express their feelings and respect for Harry, two special roundtables were created in two special sessions. The first was titled “Harold Isaacs: The Person, The Leader, The Scholar,” and included outgoing Treasurer and President-Elect Doyin Coker-Kolo, former President Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Ike Odimegwu, a relative newcomer to the Association from Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Nigeria, Peter Dumbuya, the journal’s current Associate Editor for Africa, and former President Assefaw Bariagber. All panelists expressed their appreciation for the life of Harold Isaacs and their feelings of gratitude for having known and worked with him. Particularly moving was a beautiful poem Odimegwu read in Harold’s honor. The second roundtable was titled “In Honor of Harold Isaacs: Founder and Friend” and was composed of Executive Director William D. Pedersen, former Associate Editor for Latin America Chaitram Singh, current Associate Editor for Asia Yi Sun, Michael Hall and Paul Rodell. In addition to their reflections, written remembrances from other members who could not make it to the Quito conference were summarized for the audience to hear and appreciate. These written submissions came from Robert Curry, Zia Hashmi, William Head and Gary Kline. Many of these roundtable presentations were published in the next issue of the journal, which had a special tribute section of more than fifty pages.
At its Quito meeting the Executive Council considered an issue that had been raised by a number of individuals over the years. This question was the continued relevance of “Third World” in the Association’s name. In the post-Cold War period, the term has increasingly come to be seen as anachronistic even though it was topical and relevant when Isaacs first founded the organization. Nowadays, many young people have never even heard the term and with the rise of many such former states to political and economic prominence the name can actually be considered demeaning. There was, however, the problem of finding a new name that would be appropriate and satisfy the current membership. A number of new names were suggested and in an open vote in March of 2016 a large majority of the members chose the Association of Global South Studies for the organization with an appropriate name change of the journal to the Journal of Global South Studies. In keeping with the outcome of the vote, the name of the journal changed with its spring 2016 issue. Meanwhile the fall 2016 meeting in New Albany, Indiana served as the transition from the old name to the new.
In his preface to the spring issue, Gary Kline, who became the journal editor after Harold Isaacs’ death, noted how we will never know how Harry would have felt about the name change. However, he opined that one of Harold’s most prominent characteristics was his open-mindedness in the face of the need for change. That characteristic was clearly shown in the momentous Executive Council meeting in Hartford. An indication of how Harry might have felt about the name change was, perhaps, indicated during one of his last golf outings with Bill Head. Late in the round of holes, Isaacs mentioned that he had recently read something that described the term “Third World” as “pejorative.” He told Head that this criticism had gotten him thinking and he asked for Head’s opinion. Head noted that some people think so, but he wanted Harry to make up his own mind. Isaacs responded that what he really wanted to be assured of was the continuation of the Association and the journal.
So, would Harold have approved the name change? That is still an open question that can never be answered. But, what we do know for sure is that his primary concern was for the strength of the Association that would continue to work toward the four objectives he originally laid out when creating ATWS, and that are still relevant today. Hopefully, today’s AGSS members and those who will join the organization in the future will continue to carry out those objectives as Harold Isaacs envisioned.
The practical wisdom of the name change was affirmed by its recent linkage with the University of Florida Press that has agreed to take on the publisher role of the journal. With the loss of Isaacs and the appointment of Gary Kline to the position, it became immediately apparent that any new editor could not be expected to do all that Harold did. The Executive Council asked Bill Head to search for an academic publisher that could relieve the editor of some of the burden. Head spent over a year contacting and negotiating with many publishers, academic and private. None of the 27 presses he spoke with were happy with the name “Third World,” which is indicative of the way that most scholars feel about the old name. Moreover, in negotiations with the University of Florida Press, they indicated that one reason they agreed to publish our journal had to do with the new name.
Carrying on the Legacy – New Albany, Indiana
After losing Harold Isaacs in 2015 and going through the name change earlier in the year, the meeting at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany came as a welcome respite. The opening reception included a greeting by Uric Dufrene, the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and by Michael Hall with the addition of music provided by Jamey Aebesold and his band. Beyond this, however, was an engaging tour of IUS’s Center for Cultural Resources. The meeting itself was well attended with almost one hundred participants from sixteen different countries and 27 panels and roundtables plus poster presentations. The theme of “rethinking” and “reviving the field” set the appropriate tone for the conference where Isaacs’s absence was still on the minds of many of the attendees. But there was also a sense that the organization is strong and that the individuals in it will keep the legacy alive and vital. The concluding banquet was enlivened with music provided by the IUS student band, “The Cold Front,” that promoted a festive air while participants and guests dined. The conference theme of rethinking might have been on the mind of the keynote speaker, Indiana University Southeast Chancellor Dr. Ray Wallace in his talk, “The 21st Century Irish Diaspora: A Personal Response,” that offered a revisionist interpretation of the immigrant experience. His talk indicated that whether the term is “Third World” or “Global South,” the phenomenon can be felt by many different types of people in many different settings, even in “First World” countries.
Looking to the Future
The 2017 conference is scheduled for December in Marrakesh, Morocco. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Harold Isaacs would have loved to be there as he would have loved to have been with us in Quito and New Albany. But this meeting and future ones as well will continue his legacy as will the many fine scholars and friends who make up the membership. It is our task to put past differences firmly in the past and carry on even while making concerted efforts to recruit, as Zia Hashmi would say, “new blood” to make the body of the Association for Global South Studies ever stronger.
Presidential Award Winners
1992 – Oscar Arias Sanchez, Harold Isaacs and Mario D. Zamora
1993 – Zia Hashmi, William Head, Paul J. Magnarella, John Mukum Mbaku
1994 – None
1995 – Michael B. Bishku, Zia Hashmi, William Head, Marcia White Jones and Rolin G. Mainuddin
1996 – None
1997 – Akwasi B. Assensoh, David C. Davis, Alastair Iain Johnston, Michael D. Phillips, Donald Simmons and Kathryn L. Zak
1998 – M. Bazlul Karim
1999 – Nancy W. Shumaker
2000 – Paul A. Rodell
2001 – Abdul Karim Bangura
2002 – Steve Y. Rhee
2003 – Gary Kline
2004 – William D. Pederson
2005 – Dorothea A.L. Martin
2006 – Shu-hui Wu
2007 – Michael Hall
2008 – Doyin Coker-Kolo
2009 – Nurudeen Akinyemi
2010 – Peyi Soyinka Airewele
2011 – Chaitram Singh and Samuel Zalanga
2012 – No Award
2013 – No Award
2014 – No Award
2015 – Bill Pederson
2016 – William Head
Mario D. Zamora Award
1994 — Julius O. Ihonvbere
1995 — Gary Kline
Lawrence Dunbar Reddick Memorial Scholarship Award
1996 – Lucy Wairimu Kibera, Lecturer in Sociology of Education, University of Nairobi, Kenya
1997 – David Moore-Sieray, Professor and Head of the Department of History and Government, Maseno University College, Maseno, Kenya
1998 – Osita G. Afoaku, Assoc. Professor of Political Science, University of Northern Colorado
1999 – Mamadou Gaye, Asst. Professor of British Literature, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal and Nicodemus Fru Awasom, Professor of History, University of Buea, Cameroon
2000 – Victor Julius Ngoh, Department of History and Acting Vice Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Buea, Cameroon.
2001 – Anne Nangula-Ayuku, Department of History, MOI University, Eldoret, Kenya.
2002 – Philip C. Aka, Department of History and Political Science, Chicago State University.
2003 – Mueni Wa Muiu, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina- Asheville.
2004 – Kwame Boafo-Arthur, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon.
2005 – Eghosa E. Osaghae, Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibaden, Nigeria.
2006 – Guy Martin, Department of Social Sciences, Winston- Salem State University.
2007 – Assefaw Bariagaber, Professor and Chair, Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University
2008 – James S. Guseh, Professor of Law and Public Administration and Emmanuel O. Oritsejafor, Professor of Political Science, North Carolina Central University
2009 – Sherri McFarland, National Defense Intelligence Agency.
2010 – George K, Kieh, Jr., University of West Georgia 1st Runner-Up, Abdul Karim Bangura, Howard University Honorable Mention: Veronica Nmoma, University of North Carolina Charlotte
2011 – Clair Apodaca, Florida International University Honorable Mention: Abdul Karim Bangura, Howard University
2012 – Andemariam Kidanermariam, Associate Professor of Sociology, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma Honorable mention: William Ehwarieme, Delta state University, Abraka, Nigeria Honorable mention: Samuel Adams, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
2013 – No Award Given
2014 – Co-winners: Doyin Coker-Kolo, Millersville University, and William K. Darley, Toledo University Honorable Mention: John H. Bing, Heidelberg University Honorable Mention: Stephen C. Ceccoli, Rhodes College
2016 – Ishmael Muneni, Northern Arizona University and Sara Ruto, People’s Action for Learning Network
Cecil B. Currey ATWS Book-Length Publications Award
1997 – Cecile B. Currey, Victory at Any Cost, Potomac Books, 1996
1998 – John Mukum Mbaku, Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective, Praeger in 1997
1999 – Robert Olson, The Kurdish Question and Turkish- Iranian Relations, Mazda Press, 1998
2000 – Paul J. Magnarella, Justice in Africa: Rwanda’s Genocide, its Courts, and the UN Criminal Tribunal, Ashgate, 2000
2001 – Olufemi O. Vanghan, Nigerian Chiefs: Traditional Power in Modern Politics, 1890s-1990s, University of Rochester Press, 2000
2002 – Paul A. Rodell, Culture and Customs of Philippines, Greenwood Press, 2001
2003 – William P. Head, War from Above the Clouds: B-52 Operations During the Second Indo China War and the Effects of the Air War on Theory and Doctrine, Air University Press, 2003
2005 – Toyin Falola, Economic Reforms and Modernization in Nigeria, 1945-1965, Kent State University Press, 2004
2006 – Hanchao Lu, Street Criers: A Cultural History of Chinese Beggars, Stanford University Press, 2005
2007 – Farhad Nomani, and Sohrab Behdad, Class and Labor in Iran: Did the Revolution Matter?, Syracuse University Press, 2006
2008 – Elizabeth F. Drexler, Aceh, Indonesia: Securing the Insecure State, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008
2009 – Huaiyin Li, Village China Under Socialism and Reform: A Micro-History, 1948-2008, Stanford University Press, 2009
2010 – Bryan Tilt, The Struggle for Sustainability in Rural China: Environmental Values and Civil Society, Columbia University Press, 2010 Honorable Mentions: Toyin Falola, Colonialism and Violence in Nigeria, Indiana University Press, 2009; and Kelyani Devaki Menon, “Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
2011 – Anja Jetschke, Human Rights and State Security: Indonesia and the Philippines, University of Pennsylvania Press in 2010
2012 – Abdul Karim Bangura, Howard University, African Mathematics: From Bones to Computers, University Press of America, 2012 Honorable mentions: Olivia Bennett and Christopher McDowell, The Human
Cost of Development and Resettlement, Palgrave, 2012; Carolina Matos, Media and Politics in Latin America, I.B. Tauris 2012; and Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Hard Interests and Illusions: Southeast Asia and American
Power, Cornell University Press, 2012
2013 – Co-Winners: Arndt Michael, India’s Foreign Policy and Multilateralism, Palgrave MacMillan, 2013 and Toyin Falola, Ibaden: Foundation, Growth, and Economic Change, 1830-1860, Bookcraft Publishers, 2012
2014 – Michael J. Hathaway, Simon Fraser University, Environmental Winds: Making the Global in Southwest Asia, University of California Press, 2013
2015 – Patrice McSherry, Chilean New Song: The Political Power of Music, 1960s-1973, Temple University Press, 2015
2016 – David A. Pietz, The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China, Harvard University Press, 2015
Harold Isaacs Graduate Student Award
2001 – Naveed S. Sheikh, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
2002 – Mueni Wa Muiu, Howard University
2003 – Kristin Tassin, Tulane University
2004 – Victoria Stanski, American University and Thathiah Ravi, American University
2005 – Nathaniel Kwabo, American University
2006 – Christian Noll, American University
2007 – Daniel Ogbaharya, Northern Arizona University
2008 – John Agbonifo, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague
2010 – Melissa T. Williams, Howard University
2011 – Maurice D. Smith, Howard University
Toyin Falola Africa Book Award
2006 – Adam Ashforth, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa, University of Chicago Press, 2005
2007 – Assefaw Bariagaber, Conflict and the Refugee Experience: Flight, Exile, and Repatriation in the Horn of Africa, Ashgate (UK), 2006
2008 – Co-Winners – Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2008; and Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, Healing Our Differences: The Crisis of Global Health and the Politics of Identity, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
2009 – Bayo Holsey, Routes of Remembrance: Refashioning the Slave Trade in Ghana, University of Chicago Press, 2006
2010 – Patrick Manning, The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture, Columbia University Press, 2009
2011 – Richard Beltrop, Darfur and the International Community: The Challenges of Conflict Resolution in the Sudan, I.B Tauris, 2010
2012 – Raymond Jonas, The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire, Harvard University Press, 2012
2013 – Zubairu Wai, Epistemologies of African Conflicts: Violence, Evolutionism, and the War in Sierra Leone, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012
2014 – Cati Coe, The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality, University of Chicago Press, 2014
2015 – Timothy Raeymaekers, Violent Capitalism and Hybrid Identity in the Eastern Congo: Power to the Margins, Cambridge, 2014
2016 – Mohamed Zayani, Networked Publics and Digital Contention, Oxford, 2015 – Plus Honorable Mention – A.B. Assensoh and Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh, Malcolm X and Africa, Cambria Press, 2016
* To prepare this essay, the authors used the summaries of the annual conferences published in the spring issues of the journal. They also consulted the author narratives published in the journal’s tribute issue to Harold Isaacs, various minutes of executive council meetings, their own personal memories and individual pieces of information offered by friends and fellow members. Although every effort was made to present as complete a picture as possible, there is always the possibility of error and omission. We therefore welcome any feedback or additional information so the Association’s history can be as complete and accurate as possible.