This year's conference occurred in the aftermath of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the war in Afghanistan and became an occasion for reflection and dialogue about the consequences of those events. The Program Committee recognizes the determination of all of our American Studies colleagues from around the country and the globe who came to Washington, despite difficulties of travel in the wake of September 11. We particularly appreciate how thoughtfully conference presenters and audiences of both planned and specially scheduled sessions engaged the complicated, provocative, and painful realities created by this critical new phase of our national and international life.
More than 2000 people registered and attended this year's conference. The participants could choose from two hundred and sixteen sessions. Only six scheduled panels were officially canceled, most frequently because of travel complications. This year's annual meeting was one of the most widely attended in the history of the American Studies Association.
The conference theme, "Multiple Publics/Civic Voices," resonated deeply with the diversity of perspectives and interpretive approaches in the program. It was, for instance, reflected by an unusually large number of collaborative presentations by faculty, independent scholars, and public sector practitioners. The special forum on the War and its Consequences created an extraordinary moment for reflection and re-commitment to the intellectual challenges of responding to violence and intolerance and working towards peace. The spirit of creative community engagement was carried forward by the compelling evening of performance by artist/activists Arthur Aviles and his Bronx-based dance company and theater artist Rhodessa Jones and her work with incarcerated women. And it was articulated with inspiration in George Sanchez' Presidential Address, "Working at the Crossroads: American Studies for the 21st Century," which re-examined successful previous coalitions as a basis for new models for American Studies inquiry and methodologies to find real-world applications in the cultural and racial crossroads of our local communities and neighborhoods.
The 2001 conference in Washington D.C. was also the backdrop for several new and related ASA initiatives. The new Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, recognizing the work and life of our valued colleague who died in 1997, is now in place to acknowledge outstanding scholarship that highlights intersections of race with gender, class, sexuality, and/or nation. The Baxter Travel Grants have been established to facilitate members' encouragement and subsidizing of graduate student participation in future programs. And the Sakakibara Prize includes a cash award for the best conference paper presented by an international scholar. A new ASA Task Force on Public Practice has been established to address ways ASA can support colleagues who work or plan to work in public practice and to identify models and mentors to support graduate students who will seek careers outside academia. Additionally and significantly, at the Washington conference the newly established Performance Caucus held its first business meeting and joint reception with the Music of the Americas Caucus. Next year, these two groups will for the first time put out a collaborative call for papers based on the 2002 theme, "The Local and the Global," and develop jointly sponsored panel proposals.
Overall, the conference's focus on diversifying American Studies' sense of its own identity and priorities to connect more effectively with our multiple "publics" could not have come at a more appropriate moment. In a time of stress, the conference sustained spirited and dynamic dialogues about citizenship, democracy, violence, gender and sexual politics, cultural difference, nationality and nationalism in the present and in the past. The panels offered vivid examples of how to engage multiple publics around the world and in each of our own local communities. The Program Committee is grateful to all those-ASA officers, staff, members, and colleagues-who contributed to an extraordinarily successful meeting at this charged and difficult American season.