Against the Grain

The 57th Annual Conference will take place November 1-4 at the Hilton Resort and Spa Mission Bay in San Diego, California. The 2017 WHA Program Committee sought proposals that cut "against the grain" to challenge old and new orthodoxies about the history of the North American West. The conference location in San Diego is particularly suited to discussions that cut across conventional borders of western history and scholarship. This year's program offers a diverse group of sessions, panels, lightning rounds, and workshops on current trends, new projects, and teaching innovations. 

It has been sixteen years since the Western History Association gathered in San Diego, and we look forward to returning!  Take a look through the conference program from October 4-7, 2001 to browse the sessions and see how the organization has grown (click here). 

Conference Photo Album

Click here to browse photos from the 2017 Conference. You must be logged into your account to view this page. 

Conference Program

Browse the Conference Program, view the 2017 Call for Papers and read about the 57th Annual Conference sessions, panels, and workshops.

Browse or download the 2017 Conference Program by clicking on the program cover. Visit this page for the Conference Program Index

Click here for the Conference Program Errata  



The Program Committee seeks proposals that cut “against the grain,” that is, which challenge old and new 
orthodoxies about western history. We invite challenges on many fronts (and frontiers), though our meeting location in San Diego seems particularly suited to discussions that cut across conventional borders of western history. The 2017 Program also hopes to bridge the divide that has too often cut academic histories off from broader public conversations. Accordingly, we would like to spotlight projects that have successfully translated recent scholarship and effectively engaged wide audiences. We also encourage proposals about pedagogical innovations that rethink how we teach western histories to students at all levels.

The Program Committee welcomes a range of formats: panels, roundtables, workshops, and lightning rounds. Recognizing our members’ wide range of interests, the committee will consider proposals not directly related to the conference theme. But no matter the topic or 
your take on it, we are especially receptive to proposals that cut against the grain of academic conferences by dispensing with “standard” formats in favor of more innovative ways of presentation and discussion. We hope, in particular, to significantly increase participation by constructing sessions that involve more panelists and increase audience participation. For example, we envision several lightning round panels, in which as many as ten or twelve presenters give very brief (no more than five minutes) summaries of new research on a particular topic, leaving time for a discussion among the panelists and with the audience.

2017 Conference President: Stephen Aron

Professor & Robert N. Burr Department Chair

University of California, Los Angeles

To learn more about Aron please click here

2017 Program Committee Co-Chairs

Katherine Benton-Cohen
Georgetown University 

Andrew R. Graybill 
Southern Methodist University

Kelly Lytle-Hernandez
University of California, Los Angeles


2017 Program Committee Members

Kent Blansett, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Flannery Burke, Saint Louis University
David Cartwright, Autry National Museum
Connie Chiang, Bowdoin College
Brian S Collier, University of Notre Dame
Marque Vestal, University of California, Los Angeles
Jennifer Holland, University of Oklahoma
David Igler, University of California-Irvine
Katrina Jagodinsky, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jeannette Eileen Jones, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Julian Lim, Arizona State University
Traci Voyles, Loyola Marymount University
George Miles, Yale University
Pablo Mitchell, Oberlin College
Megan Nelson, Independent Writer
Erika PĂ©rez, University of Arizona
Sherry Smith, Southern Methodist University
Elliott West, University of Arkansas

Local Arrangements & Tours

The Hilton Mission Bay is a short ride away from the meal and sights of Old Town, Little Italy, or the Gaslamp District. According to the Local Arrangements Committee, San Diego possesses the best weather in the country. Visitors in November can expect daily temperatures of nearly 70 degrees along the coast. The pleasant climate will allow conference attendees to enjoy the tours and other events offered during the WHA.

2017 Local Arrangements Committee
Ross Frank, Co-Chair 
University of California, San Diego

S. Deborah Kang, Co-Chair
California State University, San Marcos

John Putman, Co-Chair,
San Diego State University

Jill Watts 
California State University, San Marcos

Linda Canada 
Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego

Chicano/a Art & Activism Tour

This tour will involve the history of Chicano Park, Barrio Logan, and the present state of the arts in the neighbor-hood called “Barrio Logan Arts District.” Chicano Park has a decades-long
history of activism and cultural heritage, is a National Historic Landmark, and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. To learn
more about Chicano Park,
visit the Chicano Park Historical Documentation Project website.

The tour will be led by Mario Acevedo Torero, a renowned mural artist and activist (or “Artivist”). Torero is a co-founder and one of the main pioneering artist/muralists that began the longest and largest ongoing mural projects in the world. Torero learned to paint and draw from his father, Guillermo Acevedo, who was an accomplished artist living and working in Lima. In 1960, when Mario was twelve, his family immigrated to the United States in search of art, freedom, and opportunity. They landed in San Diego, California and made the seaside city their home. In 1970, Terero became a founding member of the Centro Cultural de la Raza and of Chicano Park, all part of a civil/social revolution where art became a powerful tool of cultural expression. Through these protests, activism,
and ensuing creation of the famous Chicano
Park, he found his true calling in “Artivism.”

USS Midway Museum

No visit to San Diego, a proud Navy town, would be complete without a visit to the towering hulk 
of the USS Midway, which since 2004 has
served as a floating museum anchoring one end of San Diego's downtown harbor front. Built in
17 months, and commissioned just after World
War II ended in 1945, Midway didn't see its first combat deployment for 20 years when it was
sent to fly air strikes against North Vietnam. During the fall of Saigon in 1975 Midway was
the base of Air Force helicopters which rescued 300 refugees over two days. Midway was decommissioned in 1992, and opened as a museum in San Diego in 2004. You will have
the chance to conduct your own walking audio tour narrated by Midway sailors to nearly 70 locations on board. More docents are positioned throughout the ship. In addition, you may visit flight simulators, climb aboard aircraft on the
flight deck, visit a gift shop and cafe, or view historic film footage of the Battle of Midway. Exhibits on board range from the crew's
sleeping quarters to a massive galley, engine room, the ship's jail, officer's country, post office, machine shops, pilots' ready rooms, as well as primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck. Museum and ticket information can be found through the
USS Midway Museum website.

Balboa Park Tour
Over the past century, Balboa Park has played a central role in the development and history of
San Diego. It houses nearly all of San Diego's major cultural institutions, and reflects the city's historic past. Led by 
Jonathan Bechtol 
(California State University, San Marcos), the
tour will explore the modern use of the park, with its museums and organizations, and untangle the demands placed upon this urban space by generations of previous San Diegans. Guests will past by all the major museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Man, Timken Museum, 
San Diego Natural History Museum, Air & Space Museum, and world famous San Diego Zoo. The tour covers about two miles of hilly, but paved walkways. Guests will end the tour close to the park's eateries to explore on their own. Learn more about Balboa Park and the attractions you will encounter on this tour. 

Mission Trails Regional Park

Kumeyaay Ethnohistory & Ethnobotany

Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses 7,220 acres of both natural and developed recreational areas. Its rugged hills, valleys, and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542. Started in 1974, Mission Trails Regional Park has become one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Originally used by the Kumeyaay, the
park is the site of the old Mission Dam, built to store water for the Mission San Diego de Alcala. Ethnohistorian Stan Rodriguez will highlight the Kumeyaay lifeways prior to first contact, changes of the environment and Kumeyaay during the colonizing regimes of Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The tour will also discuss the Kumeyaay use of plants in the park, importance
of the watershed, and aspects of native earth science. 

Stan Rodriguez, a member of the Santa Ysabel Band of the Iipay Nation, dedicates his time to learning Kumeyaay-Iiapay - his Native language, and the indigenous songs and histories of the Yuman peoples - and passing them along
through speaking engagements, live concert performances, demonstrations, and Native American ceremonies. Rodriguez, a Native American Persian Gulf War Naval veteran sits on the board of Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, working to strengthen language and cultural revitalization. He is
currently completing a Joint Doctorate in Educational Leadership at UC San Diego and CSU San Marcos.

Sliver of a Full Moon
By Mary Kathryn Nagle

Sliver of a Full Moon is a portrayal of justice under the rule of law - the story of a movement to
restore safety and access to justice to indigenous women in the United States. The cast features the courageous Native women survivors who stepped forward to share their stories of abuse by non-Indians. The play will also include the voices of Alaska Native women advocates, leaders, and survivors. It chronicles the history of the re-authorization of the

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with a
tribal jurisdiction provision that restores a "sliver" of the tribal criminal jurisdiction that the Supreme Court in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe eliminated. Sliver of a Full Moon is produced in association with Native Voices at the Autry. Our thanks to Founder/ Producing Artistic Director Randy Reinholz (Choctaw) and Founder/Producing Executive Director Jean
Bruce Scott. Generous support for this production of Sliver of a Full Moon comes from: The Autry Foundation and David Cartwright; UNM Center
for the Southwest and Virginia Scharff; Dean of the Division of Social Science, Department of Theatre and Dance, Department of Ethnic Studies, and Associate Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at University of California, San Diego; Procopio and Ted Griswold; Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program and Ned Blackhawk. Special thanks to Mary Kathryn
Nagle for bringing this event to the 2017 WHA Conference. 

Chinese Historical Museum & Japanese American Historical Society

This afternoon tour is led by Kathleen Dang, Education Coordinator for the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, and Linda Canada, Archivist and Past President of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego. The tour provides an overview of the history of San Diego's Chinatown, the Chuang Garden, our permanent collection, and featured exhibits in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension and Chuang Archive and Learning Center. The tour also explores the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino districts that once filled the area. Visitors will walk through the Gaslamp Quarter and Asian Pacific Historic District to see the sites of Asian Americans who populated this neighborhood beginning in the 1850s. Learn more about San Diego's Chinese Historical Museum and the city's Japanese American Historical Society.

Rest in Peace?

A Tour of Troubling Preservation Issues in San Diego Cemeteries

San Diego has a rich an unique cultural history that can be effectively told through the commemoration of its dead, yet one of the more remarkable aspects of the local landscape is that over 100 of the region's graveyards have been lost, forgotten, partially developed over, or entirely erased from existence. This tour will lead individuals through San Diego Cemeteries from three different time periods (El Camp Santo, Calvary Cemetery, and Mount Hope Cemetery) and touch on themes of multi-ethnic cultural dynamism, political manipulation, and economic challenge. As we walk through centuries of San Diego history, we will grapple with the question of whether it is the act of burial that makes a space sacred or the continued protection of these spaces.  

Dr. Seth Mallios is the Director of the South Coastal Information Center at SDSU. Mallios previously served as Site Supervisor at the 1607 James Fort archaeological site in Jamestown, Virginia, and published extensively on early colonial intercultural relations. Since moving to San Diego in 2001, he has spearheaded six research projects: The San Diego Gravestone Project, The Lost Murals of San Diego State Project, The Nate Harrison Historical Archaeology Project, The Whaley House Historical Archaeology Project, The San Diego Archaeological Geographic Information System, and The Historical Archaeology of Local Rock 'n' Roll. 

Mandeville Special Collections, UCSD

This guided tour includes three exhibitions 
drawn from UC San Diego's Special Collections and Archives that showcase UCSD's rich 
holdings documenting the American West. 
Drawn from the Hill Collection of Pacific 
Voyages, the Baja California and Border 
Issues Collection, and the Plains Indian Ledger 
Art Collection, curators will offer informal commentary and answer questions and engage 
in informal discussions. A special small exhibit 
of the work of contemporary ledger artist 
Dwayne Wilcox will open in conjunction with the WHA tour.

2017 Exhibitors

Adam Matthew Digital

Center for the Study of the American West

Clements Center for Southwest Studies

Coalition for Western Women's History

Great Oak Press

Library of Congress Teaching With Primary Sources

Montana Historical Society

Oxford University Press

Rutgers University Press

South Dakota Historical Society Press

Texas A&M University Press

Texas Tech University Press

University of California Press

University of North Carolina Press

University of Nebraska Press

University of Nevada Press

University of New Mexico Press

University of Oklahoma Press

University of Texas Press

University of Washington Press

University Press of Colorado

University Press of Kansas

Westerner's International

Yale University Press

New Mexico Historical Review

Western Writers of America

Western History Association

2017 Sponsors

University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of History

American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

American West Center, University of Utah

Arthur T. Fathauer Chair, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Boise State University

UCLA Dean of Social Sciences

UCLA Department of Chicano/a Studies

UCLA Department of History

Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska

Center for the Southwest, University of New Mexico

Charles Redd Center at Brigham Young University

Clements Center for Southwest Studies

California State University, San Marcos Department of History

Great Oak Press

J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah

Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources

Nickoll Family Endowed Chair, UCLA History Department

University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Public History Program

SDSU Department of History

Stevens Historical Research Associates

The Papers of William F. Cody, Buffalo Bill Center of the West

W.W. Norton

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming Department of History

If you wish to become an exhibitor or a sponsor for the 2018 Western History Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas please contact the WHA Offices at

Sponsors and Partners

The WHA is hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and benefits from the generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Western History Association | University of Nebraska at Omaha | Department of History | 6001 Dodge Street | Omaha, NE 68182 | 

| (402) 554-5999 |

The Western History Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.