OIA Area Studies Centers Award Second Annual Conference Grant to Political Science Faculty

May 20, 2020

OIA Area Studies Centers Award Second Annual Conference Grant to Political Science Faculty

Protestor holding a sign

Professors Inés Valdez and Benjamin McKean of the Department of Political Science have been selected as the recipients of a 2019-20 Office of International Affairs (OIA) Area Studies Centers Conference Grant for their project “Worlds in Contention: Race, Neoliberalism, and Injustice”. The Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Slavic and East European Studies, and East Asian Studies Center of OIA awarded the grant with funding from their 2018-22 Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grants. OIA Area Studies Centers Conference Grants were launched in the 2018-19 academic year to enhance area studies research at Ohio State and support the study of global issues from interdisciplinary, multi-regional perspectives.

Valdez and McKean intend to use the OIA Area Studies Centers Conference Grant to organize an interdisciplinary, multiregional conference in the 2020-21 academic year that will facilitate a discussion on contentious politics from around the world. Specifically, the conference will look at how local protest movements throughout the world can be connected with larger, transnational struggles against exclusionary and exploitative policies associated with neoliberalism. Invited participants will share their research on the politics of protests from different regions of the world to draw comparisons and open up possible new pathways for collaborative research. The conference will include the United States as an important site of production of neoliberal ideology and resistance, including the work of McKean on populism and Valdez’s transnational focus on migration, spanning both the United States and Mexico. Additional members from Ohio State will include Madhumita Dutta (Geography) and Jennifer Suchland (Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures), who will add components focusing on India and Russia. An additional 10-12 external speakers will enhance the regional breadth of the conference with possible speakers discussing Bolivia, China, Colombia, Eastern Europe, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Hungary, Iran, and Japan.

The topic has only become more relevant in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and its different impact on different groups:

We decided to organize this conference to bring together urgent conversations about race and neoliberalism taking place in different disciplines and about different regions. Our goal is to highlight connected forms of neoliberal subjection in the West and the Global South and to find affinities between resistance struggles around the world. The current pandemic has made neoliberal inequalities, and this prevailing order’s dependence on low-wage black and brown workers, more evident than ever. We hope that bringing this important conversation to OSU will spur a sustained interdisciplinary collaboration among campus scholars on these critical questions.

By organizing this conference at Ohio State, the grant leaders and participants aim to learn about each other’s research on neoliberalism and resistance to find fruitful avenues for future research projects and publications. It will also provide Ohio State graduate students from many different disciplines within the humanities and social sciences the opportunity to engage with experts from around the world and each other. Additionally, the conference will be open to all faculty and students at Ohio State, colleges and universities in the area, and members of community and business organizations, connecting what is undoubtedly a timely and relevant topic of discussion to an even larger audience. Please look for more information on the conference during autumn semester 2020!