May 03, 2013

History of the Great Lakes Graduate Conference in Political Economy

Yesterday the CSRC hosted the Fifth Annual Conference in Critical Social Research in conjunction with the 2013 Great Lakes Graduate Conference in Political Economy. As part of our opening address we heard from Doctor Rianne Mahon about the history of the latter conference. It seems the 2013 conference was the 10th time Great Lakes has been put on. We post the following notes from Dr. Mahon about the history of this innovative scholarly forum for graduate students. See here for PDF version.

Opening Address to the 2013 Great Lakes Graduate Conference in Political Economy
By Rianne Mahon, May 2nd, 2013

It is a pleasure to welcome you to what I think is the 10th Great Lakes Graduate Student Political Economy Conference (GLPEC).

The idea for the conference came from a conversation with a former student and friend, Greg Albo nearly 20 years ago, inspired by a graduate conference in international political economy I’d participated in at York. Greg and I thought it would be a good idea to broaden this to include all critical political economy, not just IPE, and to make this a regular event. We hoped it would help to cultivate innovative, critical, inter-disciplinary approaches to Political Economy by providing graduate students – the future of political economy - with a great opportunity to showcase their research and to develop lasting networks with their colleagues from other universities who share similar interests.

There is of course a long tradition of within department and less often within university grad colloquia but we wanted to reach out to grad students beyond our two universities. Our choice of the ‘Great Lakes’ region reflects the discussions of the time, which focused attention on trans-border regional clusters. In the mainstream discourse, these clusters centred on networks guiding flows of capital and goods but we wanted to create a different, counter-hegeomonic set of links. To do this we initially looked to a partnership between Carleton, Cornell and York. The first conference was hosted by Carleton in 1996, the second by Cornell and the third by York. Since then Carleton has hosted it twice (2004 and 2010), Cornell in 2005, and York in 2008. In addition, Binghampton and U of T have each taken a turn to host the conference - which makes this the 10th Great Lakes Graduate Conference.

It’s not surprising that Carleton is now hosting it for the 4th time as critical political economy is so strong here, in no small part due to the existence of the Institute of Political Economy, which helps to connect political economists in Anthropology, Geography, History, Legal Studies, Political Science, and Sociology. Nor is it surprising that the two presenters from outside Carleton are from York, the other major centre of critical political economy in Ontario.

So with that brief backward glance, I welcome you to this 10th Great Lake Conference and know that your papers will generate lively discussion. Have a great time!