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Their America: The United States in the Eyes of the Rest of the World

13th Social Research Conference October 18-19, 2004

There are urgent questions that not only are central to the time and place in which they arise but transcend those particularities. Such questions have rich and complex histories and precarious futures. It is these questions that the Social Research conference series seeks to address. The immediate motivation for Their America is the sharp increase in anti-American feelings across the globe in the aftermath of 9/11. However, the conference is intended to place this phenomenon in the context of a longer history of attitudes toward the United States over the past seventy-five years as a way of better understanding the current situation. Given the increasing tendency of the United States to act unilaterally on the world stage, understanding how the rest of the world views us, our administration and actions, is crucial to comprehending why our actions succeed or fail. How can we formulate more effective future plans—not only as to how to face or prevent failed states, but how to face or prevent the myriad transnational challenges that would best be confronted multilaterally and collaboratively (for example, terrorism, environmental despoliation, natural disaster, AIDS and other public health crises)?

Of course, even in the current moment of intense anti-American feeling, there continues to be, in many places around the globe, a dynamic tension between responses to the United States’s aggressive military interventions and, for lack of a better shorthand term, what American culture has to offer. It is our hope that the conference will examine this tension as a way of deepening our understanding of the current situation and illuminating ways in which this situation might be made more conducive to global engagement and multilateral cooperation. Our intention is to foster discussion between speakers from across the globe, and between speakers and audience, on how the United States is and has been viewed in various countries over approximately the past 75 years. Our hope is that this discussion will lead to new understandings of how the United States has both succeeded and failed in its political and military interventions, and how our cultural influence is received in other parts of the world. To that end, we have invited speakers from different regions of the world to participate in this conference, because we believe that it is those reflective people native to a country who can speak with most authority about how the US is and has been viewed from elsewhere.

We decidedly did not want to brings together a group of American “academic” authorities to talk about how we are viewed from beyond our shores. The countries represented on our agenda currently include the Balkans, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Their America, like our previous conferences, is not intended as an event at which experts speak with each other, but as a public event, to which we invite an audience that might not usually be exposed to the work of the academy or the processes that drive the making of policy. It is our belief that by educating the public in this way, and inviting our audience to participate in question-and-answer sessions with our speakers, the discussion at this conference, as at all of our conferences, can effect change simultaneously at the political, cultural, academic, and grassroots levels.

The conference was made possible with generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation and an anonymous donor

To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly



Monday, October 18, 2004


John Eatwell, Former Economic Advisor to Neil Kinock, a member of the House of Lords and President of Queens College, Cambridge

Claudio Lomnitz, Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, New School University

Michael Naumann, Former Minister for Culture and Media of Germany and Editor in Chief of Die Zeit, Hamburg, Germany

Jacques Rupnik, Professor of Political Science and Research Director at the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI), Fondation National des Sciences Politiques, Paris; and Professor of History at the Sorbonne and of Politics at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. Moderator: Jonathan Schell, Peace and Disarmament Correspondent at The Nation and Harold Willens Peace Fellow at The Nation Institute.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


David Mafabi, Director of Political Affairs at the Pan African Movement Secretariat in Kampala, Uganda

Richard Goldstone, Former Judge of The Constitutional Court of South Africa, Former Chairman of the International Bar Association's Task Force on International Terrorism and the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Human Rights Activist in Egypt; Sociology Professor, Director and Chairman of the Board of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies at the American University in Cairo

Sari Nusseibeh, Former PLO representative in Jerusalem; President and Professor of Islamic Philosophy of Al Quds University. Avishai Margalit, Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Moderator: Elzbieta Matynia, Director of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies and Senior Lecturer in Liberal Studies at the Graduate Faculty, New School University.


Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

Fedor Lukiyanov, Editor in Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Moscow, Russia

Chandra Muzaffar, President of International Movement for a Just World; previously a Professor at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur

Yuen-Ying Chan, Award winning journalist and reporter for the New York Daily News; established the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at The University of Hong Kong. Moderator: Arjun Appadurai, Provost, Senior Vice President and John Dewey Professor in the Social Sciences of New School University. Tuesday, October 19, 2004


George Mitchell, Former United States Senator of Maine, Chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

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