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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Second Haw Conference

The Second Haw Conference: "War and its Discontents: Understanding Iraq and the U.S. Empire" took place at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, Georgia from April 11-13, 2008. (For photos and video of the program see www.historiansagainstwar.org/hawconf. The site also contains a complete list of the
program, speakers, and subjects of the talks. The list of sessions includes links to papers by a number of the panelists, who made them available for posting.

The event began Friday night with two excellent presentations, the first by Bill Fletcher Jr. and the second by Naomi Klein. Bill Fletcher is the executive editor of the Black Commentator, co-founder of the Black Radical Congress and the Center for Labor Renewal, and a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies. Naomi
Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Between three and four hundred people attended the program and listened attentively and enthusiastically to the presentations then asked good questions during the question and answer session that followed.

A high-spirited plenary on Saturday morning provided a welcome to the Atlanta area. Talks by Diane Mathiowetz of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition and John Zientowski of the local Veterans for Peace chapter were augmented with appearances by folk singer Witt Wisebram and poet Alice Lovelace, whose powerful spoken word performance closed the session.

On Saturday there were three panel sessions, each of which had between five and six panels and multiple presenters. The sessions, together with another set of panel sessions on Sunday morning, were notable for the diversity of participants. Forty-six different colleges and universities were represented among the panelists,
who also included a number of non-academic activists. Several graduate students gave talks that were very well received. The sessions were also notable for the extent to which panelists and audience were mutually engaged, with an atmosphere of sharing and cooperation.

Saturday's program ended with a plenary, which began by very moving tributes to Alan
Dawley delivered by HAW steering committee members David Applebaum and Beth McKillen. Following that, Magnus Bernhardsson introducted Zachary Lockman of New York University, who spoke on "The United States in the Middle East: Continuities and Discontinuities," and Dina Rizk Khoury, of George Washington University, who spoke on "The Cost of War in Iraq: Sects, Tribes, and Refugees." Their highly informative and interesting presentations also generated questions and comments.

Sunday there were four morning panels and a concluding plenary that discussed "What Can and Should Historians be Doing to End the War?"

In a word, the conference was great. In a few more words, it was engaging, stimulating, educational, and productive. I, for one, came away from it having learned a lot, feeling more energized, and glad that HAW exists to educate, stimulate, and organize historians and activists.

Margaret Power
Associate Professor
Department of Humanities
Illinois Institute of Technology
3301 S. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60616



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