Dear fellow Social Scientists:
As president of the Southwestern Social Science Association, the oldest interdisciplinary social science association in the United States, I welcome you. We just finished up our annual conference, held this year in wonderful and welcoming Ft. Worth, Texas. Some outstanding papers were presented, old friendships rekindled; scholarly conversations were everywhere you turned. The first time I attended the Southwestern Social Sciences Association annual meeting was as a graduate student in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1989. A lot has happened since then. Lots of bright young scholars have joined the association, some of us have gotten a little older, some of us have retired, some of us have moved on to that great university in the sky. Still, the SSSA rolls on.
I would like to offer a cordial invitation to attend next year’s conference, which will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Let the good times roll! Over the years we have held some of our biggest and most successful conferences in New Orleans. I tasted my first beignet in New Orleans at a SSSA conference years ago. Frog legs, turtle soup and bowls of steaming gumbo beckons us to New Orleans. On a more serious note, the theme of the 2024 SSSA conference is “The Social Sciences Are Under Assault: What Can We Do to Defend Ourselves?” Books are being banned everywhere. Complex academic theories such as critical race theory, have become punching bags for politicians. Values that the social scientists hold dear, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, are being banned by politicians. Simple things such as being politically aware, are now described as “woke,” whatever that is. I thought being politically aware was part of being an enlightened citizen in a vibrant democracy. Waves of laws targeting LGBTQ people are being passed all over the nation. One would have to be in denial to not agree that the social sciences are under assault. So, what are we as social scientists to do? We start by not being defensive about the values we embrace. We need not fear championing the social sciences and all they stand for. As the adage states, “the best defense is a good offense.” To the ramparts! See you in New Orleans.
Steven L. Sewell, Ph.D.
President, Southwestern Social Sciences Association
Professor of History
College of the Mainland
Texas City, Texas