The Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) owes its creation to an active group of émigré Ukrainian scholars under the leadership of an Illinois-based historian named Stephan Horak (1920-1986). Professor Horak also founded ASN’s flagship journal Nationalities Papers in 1972 under the institutional support of the Shevchenko Scientific Society of New York. In the past half century, ASN has grown from a small group into the largest multidisciplinary international scholarly community in the field of nationalism and ethnicity studies. Along the way, the outstanding editorial management by the journal’s editors-in-chief has established Nationalities Papers as a journal of increasing academic stature and relevance for those who work in this field. Building on this success, former ASN President Zsuzsa Csergő and the ASN board of directors took another historic step in the journal’s development by partnering with Cambridge University Press, which began publishing Nationalities Papers in 2019.
The evolution of ASN and its flagship journal reflects the growing need for cutting-edge research about questions of nationalism, ethnicity, diasporas and questions of territory and migration around the world. In its first dozen years, ASN attracted primarily Ukrainian and Baltic scholars. The Ukrainian connection has remained strong throughout. A key moment in ASN history paralleled the rise of nationalities politics in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. At the initiative of Henry Huttenbach (editor-in-chief of Nationalities Papers in 1987) and Michael Rywkin (ASN president beginning in 1984), ASN initiated annual day-long Soviet nationalities workshops at the Harriman Institute in the Gorbachev years, forging a relationship with Columbia University that endures to this day. The partnership owed a great deal to Alexander J. Motyl, who headed a nationalities program at the Harriman Institute at the time. In 1995, Nationalities Papers signed a contract with Carfax (later folded under Taylor & Francis), thereby securing a financial lifeline to ASN, largely thanks to royalties from institutional subscribers.
Another defining moment in ASN’s history was the arrival in the mid-1990s of a large cohort of graduate students and young scholars just a few years removed from completing their PhD studies, energized by the research possibilities created by the collapse of Communism and, the world being what it is, nationalist and ethnic conflict. The generational shift reflecting this change in ASN occurred at the 1994 Slavic Convention (where ASN had previously met annually) with the election of Ian Bremmer to the presidency. The advent of the first Annual World Convention in 1996 resulted from Bremmer’s vision and that of a dozen members of that cohort are still active as officers at ASN, including Dominique Arel, former ASN President and current ASN Convention Director. By the late 1990s, ASN became a truly international scholarly organization. For the first time in 1998, the Annual World Convention welcomed more than a hundred scholars traveling from outside North America. In 2019, scholars from over 40 countries shared their research and expertise at the Convention.
The intellectual energy of new membership over the past decade has ushered in the fourth phase, a time of impressive development for ASN:
- the number of individual paper proposals increased by 22% in 2019, while the proportion of proposals that do not make the cut keeps increasing;
- the number of submissions to Nationalities Papers has increased by 50% in the last two years alone;
- Ukraine and the Book Panels have been the fastest growing sections in the last few years; Balkans and Central Europe have been consistently strong for a long time (Central Europe received the most proposals in 2019; Balkans accomplished this fete in earlier years).
- ASN, building on a tradition inaugurated in the late 1980s, has held five summer/fall conferences in Europe since 2001 - the latest one in Graz in Summer 2018;
- the convention has been holding Doctoral Student Prizes since 2005, a Book Prize since 2010, a Film Audience Award since 2012, the annual Huttenbach Prize for the most popular article published in Nationalities Papers since 2017, and the Nationalities Papers photo contest since 2019.
- and importantly, the convention has achieved gender parity (52% of presenters at the 2019 Convention were women).
Our partnership with Cambridge University Press further enhances our ability to build a closer synergy among ASN, its annual convention, and—the recently accepted into the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI)—Nationalities Papers.