April 2019

President’s Perspective

Greetings from cherry blossom season of Beirut!

Since my last President letter, I was busy with my colleagues in ISA finalizing many tasks, including preparing the 2020 ISA Forum in Porte Alegre. At the Executive Committee (EC) meeting in Manila and with circular votes, we came up with many decisions that I would like to summarize here.

The theme of XX ISA World Congress of Sociology in Melbourne

The theme of the forthcoming Congress (July 2022) is Resurgent Authoritarianism: Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies. This was the outcome of my vision of new directions for a global sociology and the extensive discussion with the Program Committee and the approval of the EC.

ISA Presidential project

My Presidential project was approved by the EC. It articulates a better connection among national associations (NAs), Research Committees and publication within ISA, targeting mainly the regions that are less representative in various ISA activities. Those regions can be defined as Global South but also beyond. There are related three components: first, connecting NAs activities and conferences with ISA publications (institutionalizing Publications Project and extending it);second, maintaining the Global Mapping of Sociologists for Social Inclusion & Global Resource (GMSSI); and finally, understanding the trajectory of ISA through its World Congresses of Sociology (in 2022 we will have the 20th ISA World Congress of Sociology). Compared to projects of my precedent ISA presidents, this project will not leave a tangible object (such as GMSSI, Global Dialogue, or Sociopedia) but hopefully more intangible traces of inclusiveness of Global South’s participation in all activities of ISA, but particularly the publication. This cannot be done with the great collaboration of my vibrant ISA Vice-Presidents, especially Vice-President Publications, Eloisa Martin.

Two items need your energy:

• There is a major imbalance in geography of the affiliated institution of the authors published in Current Sociology and International Sociology. While number of authors from Asia is progressing, authors from Africa, Latin America and Middle East are still terribly missing. I would like that we use the occasion of Associations’ events (general assembly, national and regional conferences) to request the conveners to send to ISA the best two or three papers submitted to their events. ISA created an appropriate mechanism to select high quality papers for the publication and/or will work with some promising early career authors to make their papers up to the standard of the international journals. If they are not in English, we may translate some of these manuscripts after the due referee process. Please contact us for your events or request a writing workshop for your early career sociologists. This presidential project is in full support of the Project of Academic Writing Workshops developed by the Publications Committee, by enlarging its capacity and objectives. We envisage indeed some 30 workshops to be held in the following three years.

• I encourage all ISA members and other members of the national sociological associations to put their profile in ISA’s Global Mapping of Sociologists for Social Inclusion (GMSSI), soon will become simple Global Mapping of Sociologists (GMS). Thanks to my predecessor Margaret Abraham, GMSSI was officially released to all ISA members and posted on the ISA website for all in 2018. Currently this database has 61893 entries (22833 abstracts, 34580 authors and 4480 sessions). I think more effort of campaigning should be carried out to incorporate more profiles and projects from sociologists. This database is extremely instrumental for any search of the knowledge produced within and for ISA. All abstracts and keywords of the last three ISA Congresses and Forums are there in addition of ISA journals International Sociology and Current Sociology. However, soon we will add the abstracts of the previous Congresses and Forums, which are available in print/pdf format only.

PhD Lab

We were so glad that we received 55 application for the XVI ISA International Laboratory for PhD Students under the title Mobilities and Social Inequalities in a Globalized World. It will be held on September 9-13, 2019 in Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña, Spain. I would like to thank Laura Oso for her great effort in organizing this Lab. Both Filomin Gutierrez and Mounir Saidani kindly accepted to join Laura as faculty members for this Lab. The next Lab will be in held September 2020 in Tunisia.

More inclusive and democratic policies in ISA

For enhancing the democratic practice at different ISA levels of governance the March EC meeting adopted the following new policies:
New rule for the election of officers by the Council of National Associations: At the last election in Toronto 2018, 5 candidates from Non-EU and Central Asia run in the CNA elections but none was elected. That created some frustration among the CNA Delegates. We developed rules and guidelines for the Nominating Committee of the Council of National Associations, in order to ensure a better geographical representation. Hereby the new rule: The election by the Council of National Associations should ensure that the following 8 geographical region are represented: 1. East Asian and Pacific; 2. Non-EU and Central Asia; 3. European Union; 4. Latin America and Caribbean; 5. Middle East and North Africa; 6. North America; 7. South Asia; 8. Sub-Saharan Africa. Candidates shall be listed on the ballot according to their regions. The Nominating Committee shall try to nominate at least two candidates per region. The candidates with the most votes from each of the 8 regions shall be elected.
National Association’s representatives to Council of National Association (CNA): Each National Association is expected to designate a delegate to the CNA. That delegate can be the president or a member and the same delegate can attend CNA for at most two times (starting this rule in 2021)
Research Committees: There are new policies that will be strictly enforced. First, re-confirm the rule that a research committee president can serve maximum 2 terms; second, A. officers (Vice-President, Secretary) can serve no more than three consecutive terms; B. no imposed limit on how many years/terms Board Members can serve but a requirement that each RC/WG/TG establishes a limit itself.

Multilingual ISA

It is recalled that ISA introduced an option of submitting session proposals and abstracts in three official languages (English, French and Spanish) and that the Guidelines for Program Coordinators and Session Organizers include a section Linguistic diversity encouraging RC/WG/TGs to support language diversity. Suggested recommendations if paper presentations are in languages other than English are:
• to have a translation of the abstract available as overheads, Power Point or distributed hard copy;
• for the presenter to use a mixture of English and their preferred language;
• to provide an oral sequential informal interpretation/summary by another RC member;
• to have a whispered interpretation/ summary provided by another RC member;
• to have a volunteer typing on a computer a summary of the remarks as they are made;

A greener ISA

Koichi Hasegawa and Allison Loconto prepared a report suggesting various measures which could be taken to encourage “a greener Forum”. The main targets are to raise consciousness of the participants on reducing CO2 emissions, promoting Sustainable Development Goals and encouraging participants to take voluntary actions. I would like to thank them both for such excellent initiative.

2020 ISA Forum of Sociology, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Hermilio Santos, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee, who is working hard with Geoffrey Pleyers, Vice-President of Research and the RCC for the preparation of this forum. I would like to thank them both their terrific work.

ISA Publications

I am glad to announce and welcome Junpeng Li as the new editor of International Sociology Reviews. Eloisa Martin, VP of Publication, will prepare online material on academic writing and international publication committee and this will be instrumental for publication and presidential project on Academic Writing Workshops but of course this will take time. I would like to thank her and the publication committee for great work they are carrying out.

Grants for the National Sociological Associations

The National Associations Liaison Committee (NALC) allocated 8 grants for the diverse national sociological associations for their regional conferences and website development. I would like to thank Filomin Gutierrez, Vice-President who handled NALC meeting while organizing EC meetings in Manila in March. She did this with such impeccable efficiency and hospitality. Held at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, EC meeting in Manila was hosted with the support of the Philippine Sociological Society, the UP Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

ISA Operational Budget for 2019

The EC approved the ISA Operational Budget for 2019. I would like to thank Sawako Shirahase, VP of Finances and Membership for her terrific work preparing the budget for each major ISA activities.

I am so lucky to have a wonderful team in ISA: the 4 VPs, and an Executive Committee composed of 16 members from all over the globe, but above all our earnest Executive Secretary Izabela Barlinska and her team.

Sari Hanafi
Prof. of Sociology, American University of Beirut
President, International Sociological Association