About Us

PROPOSAL
 
for an
 
ANNUAL CONFERENCE FOR A NEW POLITICAL SCIENCE
 
Approved by the
 
Caucus for a New Political Science
Coordinating Council and
Publications Executive Committee
 
August 28, 2008
 
The Caucus for a New Political Science (CNPS) was originally founded in 1967 as a caucus within the American Political Science Association to for the purpose of challenging the myth of value-free and politically neutral social science. It became an Organized Section of the APSA in 1992 and continues to organize panels at the APSA’s annual meeting. However, as early as 1969, leading members of the Caucus proposed that insurgent political scientists should join forces with their more numerous colleagues in other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, philosophy, history, and radical political economics, as well as with progressive colleagues in other nations, to establish a new flagship journal and to create new interdisciplinary professional associations of radical scholars.
 
The purpose of the journal would be to provide a platform for a new critical political science unhindered by the ideological and methodological restrictions of mainstream journals. This type of interdisciplinary association, with its own flagship journal, might eventually generate the critical mass to confront existing disciplinary associations with the specter of a dual power configuration. It was not until a decade later, in 1979, that the Caucus for a New Political Science was finally institutionalized as a separate and independent 501(3)c nonprofit organization outside the American Political Science Association with New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture as its official journal.
 
A major purpose of the CNPS 50th Anniversary conference is to once again promote the growth of the Caucus for a New Political Science outside, but parallel to the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the regional political science associations with a competing vision of political science. In the past, particularly in the mid- and late- 1970s, the CNPS made numerous efforts to expand its role beyond the APSA by sponsoring local chapters and regional mini-conferences, an annual “June Conference” of its representative Assembly, and a major conference at Brown University (1975), while also attempting to institutionalize a CNPS presence at regional political science association meetings (e.g., the Northeastern, Western, and Mid-Western Political Science Associations).
 
I.  PURPOSES OF THE CONFERENCE FOR A NEW POLITICAL SCIENCE
 
  • to promote a fundamental redefinition of the purposes, categories, and politics of political science.
 
This is one of the original purposes of the Caucus for a New Political Science, but:
 
  • 8 to 11 panels out of 1,300 at the APSA Annual Meeting does not significantly promote this objective,
 
  • the CNPS no longer has any members on the APSA Executive Council, nor is it likely to achieve such representation without a vigorous electoral mobilization comparable to the early 1970s.
 
  • to expand political science into a genuinely interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary form of scholarship
 
This is one of the original purposes of the Caucus for a New Political Science, but:
 
  • instead of promoting genuinely interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary studentship, the APSA system of organized panels actually re-fragments scholars and scholarship back into isolated communities of narrow specialization, rather than promoting discussion across disciplines and sub-fields and promoting the integration of inter-disciplinary concepts and methods into the fabric of political science.
 
  • the CNPS should actively encourage scholars from “other disciplines” to directly join the CNPS and to participate in its annual conference, listserve, etc.
 
  • to promote the development of political science as an international and global discipline beyond the categories and purposes of the American Political Science Association:
 
The APSA is a nationally based professional association that promotes a concept of the political science discipline that is distinctively “American” (see Bernard Crick’s​The American Science of Politics) and, as such, it is wedded to a defense and rationalization of the American state, its foreign and domestic policies, and its demoblizing political institutions. The CNPS should actively encourage scholars who reside in other countries to directly join the CNPS and to participate in its annual conference, listserv, and governance and CNPS members should increase their participation in organizations, such as the International Political Science Association and the International Studies Association:
 
  • to promote political science as engaged political action:
 
The APSA promotes a concept of value-free social science and a definition of apolitical “professionalism” that is a distinct product of the discipline’s development in the 20th Century, including academic repression, but it is not an inherent characteristic of the social sciences.  The CNPS emerged intellectually from its members’ critique of the myth of value free social science and the APSA’s concept of apolitical professionalism – a form of acquiescent complacency that provides a rationalization of the status quo by ignoring salient political, economic, social, and environmental issues and their solution.
 
The Preamble of the CNPS Constitution states that:
 
  • The Caucus for a New Political Science was formed to make the study of politics relevant to the struggle for a better world.  As an educational organization, it offers a forum to diverse positions within the framework of this struggle. At the same time, it recognizes that political study and criticism, if it is to be effective, must ultimately transcend the barriers of professionalism and become a function of the community as a whole.
 
  •   the proposed CNPS conference will not only incorporate this critique into its academic presentations, but attempt to incorporate presentations by progressive elected officials, political journalists, and political activists.
 
 The CNPS should actively encourage non-academics, such as progressive elected officals, journalists, and activists to directly join the CNPS and to participate in its annual conference, listserv, etc.
 
  • to promote the growth of the Caucus for a New Political Science outside the Organized Section framework of the APSA:
 
 In 1975, the Report of the CNPS Committee on Structure established the “dual identity” of the Caucus in its conclusion that:  “Caucus members are             organizationally dependent on the APSA on the one hand and therefore have critical tasks to do within the APSA (such as transformation of the American Political Science Review, democratization of APSA, extension of services and/new guidelines for Departments), but the Caucus is also an ‘independent entity’ with important new work to do outside the APSA that includes serious internal education and mass political education.” [This report was generated from discussions held during a 1975 “June Conference,” held at Bowdoin College, consisting of 40 members of the Assembly].
 
 The Caucus was incorporated as a non-profit 501(3)(c) corporation in 1979 to institutionalize this independent existence.
 
 As a follow up, the CNPS sponsored its own conference in November 1975, held at Brown University, with the theme:  “Socialist Perspectives on Social Change in the United States.”  This was the first large conference organized by the CNPS and independent of the organized panels convened at APSA meetings.  Papers were delivered by 45 scholars, but the conference was attended “by hundreds” of scholars and students.
 
 In 1979, the journal New Political Science was established (and is owned) by the 501(3)(c) to further institutionalize this independent existence:
 
  • to increase the manuscript pipeline to New Political Science
  • to allow a second face-to-face meeting each year of the Coordinating Council
  • to provide additional professional opportunities to progressive young scholars, while providing opportunities to senior scholars, who are more interested in substantive presentations and discussions as opposed to adding one more line to their curriculum vitas.
  •    the NPS Organized Section has one of the highest panel and paper rejection rates in the APSA.  There is clearly an unmet demand for additional professional outlets for conference papers.
 
II.  STRUCTURE OF THE CONFERENCE
            The conference could be annual, biennial, or triennial, but this proposal is based on an annual conference.
 
A.  Coordination and Convening:
 
There are at least two possible ways to select individuals to coordinate and convene the conference with minimal change to the existing structure of the NPS Constitution:
 
  • Two possible ways of redefining the “sub-fields” of political science (these are only for illustrative purposes)
 
By Structures of Capitalism
 
Capitalism
Globalization
The State
Social Class
Race and Ethnicity
Gender
Social Movements
Ideology                     
 
 
By Disciplinary Intersections
 
Political Economy
Political Sociology
Political History
Political Anthropology
Political Communications
Political Geography
Political Culture
Political Ideology
 
 
B.  Conference Structure:
The Conference should be designed to promote authentic intellectual exchange and to provide individuals with an opportunity for serious discussion and debate as opposed to cursory presentations and limited discussion opportunities provided by the APSA Meeting structure.  It should also facilitate the conduct of official NPS business in a more timely manner.
 
1.  Initially a 2 ½ day Conference beginning with meetings of the Coordinating Council    (and Publications Executive Committee?) followed by an evening dinner and keynote address, preferably by a “political” or “public” figure, rather than a prominent academic:
 
            a.  Day 1 (illustrative only):
 
            3:00 pm Coordinating Council
 
            6:00 pm  Dinner and Keynote Address
 
b.  Day 2 and 3:  2-hour panels from 9am-5:15pm (9:30am-11:30am, 1:00pm-3:00pm, 3:15-5:15pm)
                       
·         limit each panel to 3 papers (25 minute presentations ) + 1 discussant (15 minute presentation); discussant serves as panel chair
 
·         this arrangement leaves at least 30 minutes for discussion at the end of the panel
 
            c.  Redefine the categories and sub-fields of political science (see above)