SMU symposium studies ‘Love and Power’ in the American West

Clements Center 2010 Public Symposium poster imageThe family histories of the U.S. West include characters as diverse as Comanche warriors, Pueblo Indian women, Catholic priests, children of the fur trade, Mexican mothers and Washington policy makers. The ways in which these men, women and children were linked by bonds of love, power and obligation will be the focus of the 2009-10 Annual Public Symposium presented by SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American West” is cosponsored by the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico, the Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center and the Clements Center. It will take place 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The symposium explores the relationship between family life and larger structures of social and political power in specific times and places in the history of the American West, says SMU History Professor Crista DeLuzio, the symposium co-organizer (with David Wallace Adams of Cleveland State University). “Participants will learn about what happened when people from different backgrounds, whether compelled by force or drawn by affection, forged family ties with one another,” she says.

“They will learn something about the ways in which family relations have been shaped by the imperatives of economic, social and political relations in the West. And, conversely, they will learn about the role the family has played in reproducing, mediating and challenging social order and power relations in the West.”

The symposium presentations will be published as a book of essays for course adoption as well as for the general public.

Programs like the Clements Center Symposium “are vital to furthering the University’s mission of contributing to the advancement of knowledge and also to the sharing of that knowledge across various constituencies,” DeLuzio adds. “That includes the SMU community and those of our neighboring academic institutions; the Metroplex community; and – with the publication of the essays – with scholars and readers throughout the nation and the world.”

The symposium is open to the public and has been approved for Continuing Education Credit. High school and middle school teachers “can expect to take back to their classrooms some knowledge about the ways in which family life has been defined and experienced in the history of the West,” DeLuzio says.

“We hope participants will leave with a more complex understanding of the history of family life in the United States and of the vital ways in which family dynamics in the intercultural and interracial American West have shaped our national story.”

The preregistration cost is $5 for general admission ($20 including a lunch at the SMU Faculty Club) and $2 for graduate students ($10 including lunch). Register online or contact the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

Find a complete schedule at the Clements Center Annual Symposium homepage