Their America

13th Social Research conference at The New School
Their America: The United States in the Eyes of the Rest of the World
October 18-19, 2004
John Tishman Auditorium 66 West 12th Street, NYC

Papers from the conference are published in Social Research Volume 72, Number 4 (Winter 2005). Audio of the complete conference and Q&A is available (in MP3 files).

There are urgent questions that not only are central to the time and place in which they arise, but that also 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 approximately 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 our actions is crucial to comprehending why our actions succeed or fail, and how best to formulate future plans—not only as to how to face or prevent failed states, but in 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.


Monday, October 18, 2004

6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.


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

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


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. 

2:00 - 5:00 p.m


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.

6:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

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

The director and founder (1988) of the Social Research conference series is Arien Mack, Alfred and Monette Marrow Professor of Psychology at The New School for Social Research, who has been the editor of Social Research since 1970. For the history of the conference series, visit the Social Research conference series site. For information about other public events at The New School, see the university calendar. Find information about the more than 70 degree programs offered at The New School. For general information about The New School, visit the Quick Facts page.


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

Connect with the New School