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2022 AFEE President's Letter

Hello all AFEE-ians,

This year’s Presidential Letter is hitting your virtual doorsteps a bit later this year due to *gestures broadly at the world.*  I’ve lost count of the number of drafts of this letter I discarded before this one; all of my words seem inadequate to the present moment.

This year’s conference went extraordinarily well despite it being online again this year—our June JEI is going to be absolutely packed and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I live in desperate hope that next year’s conference in New Orleans doesn’t likewise get moved online.  Let us all cross our fingers that the pandemic is held at bay, that the climate disaster doesn’t unleash yet another devasting flood or hurricane on the Gulf Coast, that we’re in the middle of just winter and not nuclear winter, that…you know what…moving on…  

Congrats again to our all of our 2022 award recipients:

Veblen-Commons Award recipient:  L. Randall Wray
Clarence Ayres Scholar:  Asimina Christoforou
James H. Street Scholar:  Jairo J. Parada
AFEE Service Award:  Eric R. Hake

Y’all are all amazing and generous scholars and our community is better and stronger for all of your contributions!

Special shout-out to Gary Dymski, our next fearless leader and to Lynne Chester and Wolfram Elsner who are joining us on the Board this year.  Many, many thanks to Iciar Dominguez Lacasa and Stephen Paschall for your service on the Board over the past three years.  We appreciate you!

Focus for 2022
AFEE’s primary focus this year is on expanding our tribe and in doing so, supporting often marginalized and underfunded scholars working in the OIE tradition.  These efforts will primarily emerge through the dedicated work of our committees, although every member of AFEE should feel empowered to contribute:

  • The Committee on Publications and Electronic Media will continue its regular remit and—in its charge to evaluate proposals for publications and projects outside of the JEI—the committee will specifically be focusing on the funding of projects dedicated to preserving AFEE’s ‘antecedent’ and securing its ‘consequent:’ the building of AFEE’s archives and the special projects of grad students, early career/pre-tenure/precariously employed scholars (not related to conference funding).  If anyone has an archival project they would like to suggest, an out-of-print book they’d like to see reprinted, or know any (new or vulnerable) scholar who needs a project funded, please contact me (as chair of the committee) directly.
  • The Membership Committee will be reaching out to scholars in Asia and Africa to invite them to submit work, participate in conferences, and join the general fun of AFEE, as well as establishing/revitalizing contact with all of our sibling heterodox graduate programs to likewise invite graduate students into our community.  If you know any scholars who might benefit from our AFEE community, please contact the chair of the Membership Committee, Anna Klimina.
  • The Committee for Regional and International Conferences (CoRIC) will continue its vital work—under the leadership of our President-Elect, Gary—in establishing contacts, offering support, and participating in conferences and events all over the world.  If anyone has a conference where they think an AFEE presence would be welcomed or an organization that might want to co-sponsor graduate student or early career awards at their conferences, please contact Gary, chair of CoRIC.
  • In order to support and nurture grad students and early career people, we plan to revitalize the AFEE Summer School now rebranded the OIE Workshop.  The last time the Summer School/Workshop ran was in 2005, when I was just out of grad school and starting my first tenure-track job.  It was an invaluable experience and I want to ensure that the next generations also experience the support, comradery, and generosity of our community.  We considered running the Workshop online this summer, but decided to put all our effort, energy, and love into the planning of next year’s in-person workshop.  Special thanks to everyone who was on the committee for determining the feasibility of an online workshop this summer, especially Alex Berneseck, for chairing those exploratory efforts.  Y’all laid the groundwork in reestablishing this important event.       

Renew membership
Everyone – take a moment, check that your membership is up-to-date:  https://afee.net/?page=membership

Over the past year, we’ve lost five important voices in the Original Institutionalist community:  Eugenia Correa, Gladys Foster, Geoff Harcourt, Milton Lower, and Tracy Mott.  Our community is better not only for their scholarship, but also for their generosity and graciousness—each and every one of them.  If any of their students, colleagues, friends, or fans of their work would like to share their memories, a brief comment, or contribute a written remembrance to the JEI, please contact Bill Waller. Some of these written remembrances are already in progress, but we’d like to include and add as many stories and memories as possible. May they all rest in equilibrium.         

Closing thoughts…
All of us (myself included) need to remember that we are still working through a crisis—scratch that—multiple crises.  Simply surviving is enough.  You are enough.  It is ok if some things on our to-do list remain unfinished, if some of our work is incomplete.  The fate of civilization itself does not rest on any one individual’s shoulders; the greatest lie of capitalism is that we are on our own—that we are ‘isolated human datum,’ to borrow a phrase— and must be relentlessly productive.  Take time to rest and heal and most importantly, support one another.  Our AFEE community will be stronger for it.


President, AFEE 2022