LIFE AND JUSTICE IN AMERICA:
IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW ADMINISTRATION
Convened by the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association
Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria
September 22-26, 2017
Ever since Salzburg Global Seminar was founded in 1947 as the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, critical dialogue about American society, history, literature, culture, politics, economics and law has played a vital role in our organization’s development and legacy. The annual symposia now convened by the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association focus on key questions and conflicts influencing American society and culture, in order to foster understanding of how these are influenced by, and influence, the rest of the world.
This landmark session in 2017 has particular resonance in the year of a new US Presidential Administration. Drawing on the seventy years of cross-border exchange that began at Schloss Leopoldskron in the aftermath of war, this multi-disciplinary conversation will examine what the “American Dream“ means in today’s world and assess progress in the United States towards fulfilling that potential. Participants will discuss the quality of life and sense of justice in the United States from a contemporary perspective, including the domestic and global implications of the new Administration in a visibly polarized society.
Life in America is predicated on fair and equal treatment and the expectation of protection by constitutionally-assured rights and justice. Issues such as civil rights, personal safety, pluralism, and access to educational and economic opportunities both challenge and contribute to the quality of life of Americans of every age, gender and ethnicity.
The session will explore historic events related to social progress and literary reflections of the nature and quality of life and justice in America. The function of legal and political institutions at federal, state, and local levels will be examined alongside qualitative dimensions of family, social and personal lives to better understand changing patterns and risks to the social fabric.
Our ultimate purpose will be to compare the historic “Promise of America“ with today’s realities, and to forge ideas and projects that help towards realizing a good life for all in America.
Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) symposia connect scholars and thought leaders from around the world to build collaborative networks for research and critical debate.
The 2017 session – the 15th SSASA symposium – will bring together approximately 40 participants from more than 25 countries. In addition to public and private sector professionals, participants will include academics teaching about the United States in universities across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the United States. We actively encourage participation by sociologists, representatives of the legal profession, immigration experts, civil rights activists, and other individuals working on issues at the heart of protecting and improving contemporary life in America and ensuring its constructive global involvement.
The five-day session will be highly participatory. Daily thematic presentations by distinguished speakers will be followed by plenary discussions, as well as panels on topical issues focused on interaction with participants. Afternoon sessions will include small thematic discussion groups, providing multiple opportunities for all participants to share their knowledge and expertise on equal terms and to build new alliances and research projects.
Focusing on the context of the Constitution and the judicial system, the 2017 session will consider such issues as: economic equality and the distribution of wealth as it relates to race and gender; the management of policing and civil rights; fair application of legal protection; availability of employment and equal opportunity; as well as other aspects that contribute to or otherwise relate to the quality of life.
Participants will situate this analysis in the contemporary context and be able to discuss and evaluate the implications and likely impact of changes implied by the election proposals of the new President as well as policy decisions taken during the first months of the new Administration.
Issues to be addressed during the session include:
- How do demographic changes and immigration issues reflect social tensions and raise questions and problems about the quality of life for those concerned?
- How and in what way has the availability of education affected mobility and fostered success and/or failure in America?
- How do social and economic class stratification relate to and affect the quality of life, fairness, well- being and justice in American life?
- In what way does the distribution of wealth, parity of income and availability of employment opportunities affect and contribute to fairness and justice?
- What does the nature and degree of incarceration indicate about justice and the quality of life?
- How have these matters changed and/or evolved over the past seventy years?
- Does the American justice system function fairly and in what way might it benefit from radical change?
- How does the electoral system and congressional representation promote and support or otherwise affect and represent fairness, equality and justice?
- How and in what way are policy proposals and changes by the new administration likely to affect life, justice, health and welfare of Americans?
Program Goals and Impact
- The session’s primary goal is to foster intellectual analysis and discussion between professionals and academics about the factors that have contributed over the last seventy years to the contemporary reality of life and justice in America and which might affect the future.
- University professors from around the world who teach about America will acquire and refine content to convey to their students through active discussions about America and its democratic future .
- By sharing knowledge and expertise, participants will contribute to critical thinking on issues affecting life in contemporary America and suggest priorities and strategies for improvement and progress to fulfill the American promise of a better life for all.
As we examine the last seven decades of America’s progress, problems and challenges, and the promise to itself and the world to provide a good life with fairness and justice, we will try to identify challenges for the future to help fulfill the American Dream and the Promise of America.
Lecia Brooks (invited), Outreach Director, Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama, USA
Nancy Gertner, former U.S. federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
Rob Kroes, Honorary Professor of American Studies, University of Utrecht; past president, European Association for American Studies; author, Signs of Fascism Rising: a European Americanist looks at recent political trends in the U.S. and Europe (2016); Prison Area, Independence Valley: American Paradoxes in Political Life and Popular Culture (2015)
ElaineTyler May, Regents Professor of American Studies and History, and Chair, Department of History, University of Minnesota; past president, American Studies Association (US) and past president, Organization of American Historians; author of Here, There, and Everywhere: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture (co-edited with Reinhold Wagnleitner)
Bryan Stevenson (invited), Director, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, Alabama; clinical professor, New York University School of Law: author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Additional speakers will be confirmed.
For information about becoming a participant, contact Symposium Director Ms. Marty Gecek
The symposium website and a registration form can be accessed
Limited financial aid is available towards the symposium fee of 740 Euro (which includes all expenses in Salzburg, but not travel). One full scholarship will be awarded through the Emory Elliott Scholarship Fund, and one through the Clifton Scholarship Fund.