Warp, Weft, and Way

Chinese and Comparative Philosophy 中國哲學與比較哲學

Submitting to the APA Can Help Diversify the APA

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Are you worried about the de facto ghettoization of non-Western philosophy at APA meetings, where there are quite a few non-Western philosophy panels but mostly in the Group Program rather than in the Main Program?

It turns out that the mechanism that allows for this situation also allows for its rectification.  Below is a message from Rebecca Copenhaver,  secretary-treasurer of the Pacific Division.  I’m told that the Eastern Division has a similar mechanism (not sure about the Central).


The Program Committee consists in about 30 or so people (can’t be much bigger because we need the Invited portion of the program not to out-balance the refereed portion, and can’t be much smaller because we need to be able to referee about 700 papers).

Each year, the new Program Chair replaces the people who have rotated off the committee (after their three-year term). In doing so, they are asked to consider AOS/AOC where we did not have enough Program Committee members to cover the number of submitted papers to referee. The number to keep an eye on here is number of papers a PC member has to referee: we want them to referee no more than about 20. I say this, because sometimes we need to add someone in a very well represented AOS, e.g., applied ethics, because we’re experiencing a significant uptick in submissions in that area. But sometimes we need to add someone in an under-represented AOS, e.g. western medieval philosophy, not because we’ve had a significant uptick, but because we’ve had 2-3 paper submitted at all.

When we add anyone to the PC, we’re looking for someone who is enthusiastic about refereeing for multiple AOS/AOCs — someone who is a generalist, like our program. This would be true of someone from an AOS that is under-represented, e.g. western medieval philosophy.

Every member of the PC is able to design two Invited Sessions (Invited Paper, or Invited Symposium, or Book Symposium). They can design their own, or they can draw from the list of suggested sessions. Most design their own, but a few sessions from the suggested session list are adopted each year as well. Now, there is no requirement that one or both of these sessions be in the persons’ AOS/AOC, but, typically, they are. So, if a member had an AOS/AOC in Buddhist philosophy, presumably, one or both Invited Sessions would be on, or incorporate, Buddhist philosophy.

That’s the mechanics of it. The take away: you have access to a wide community of scholars working in a variety of area Asia-oriented philosophy. The most effective way to increase representation on the Divisional program is to reach out to the communities you have contact with, and with whom you have some influence, to submit papers to the Pacific APA. Keep an eye on dates and deadlines, send out reminder emails, be encouraging. If we receive more submissions in this area, then:

1) More submission in this area are likely to be accepted, thus appearing on the refereed portion of the Divisional Program;
2) The more submission we receive, the more likely we will add another member to the PC who can referee these papers;
3) The more people we have on the PC who are able to referee these papers, the more likely those people will dedicate one or both of their Invited Sessions to papers in this AOS.

As you can see, it’s a bottom-up process. I encourage you to use your networks to encourage more submissions. We welcome them.

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