May 28, 1998 03:00 GMT
To: Those Interested in the Suspension of the XII World Congress of Economic History in Seville.
From: Scott Eddie, Stephen Nicholas, and Richard Sutch
On Tuesday an announcement was made by four members of the Executive Committee of the International Economic History Association (Roberto Cortes Conde, Scott Eddie, Stephen Nicholas, and Richard Sutch) which promised a new announcement on Wednesday.
At this time we can report the following.
Part I: On the International Economic History Association
1. The IEHA is an organization of organizations. It has no individual members. Instead national, regional, or international organizations interested in economic history are its members. The [American] Economic History Association, the [UK] Economic History Society, The [International] Cliometric Society, among many others are members.
2. The IEHA is governed by the actions of its General Assembly which meets briefly every four years at the World Congress sites. The General Assembly votes on motions brought before it by the Executive Committee or submitted in writing by any member organization two months in advance. Each member organization has one representative and one alternative representative to the General Assembly. All members of the Executive Committee are also members of the General Assembly. The Executive Committee is elected by the General Assembly and consists of four officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, and General Secretary) and twelve other members. All serve four year terms, which can be renewed twice. The Executive Committee meets once each year. The four officers of the Association collectively constitute the Bureau which meets at least twice a year and whenever necessary.
3. The World Congresses are set to meet in August of years divisible by four. They have two components: the Scientific Program of presented papers and dissertations, discussions, lectures, and speeches; and the Physical Program which consists of local arrangements, hotel accommodations, excursions, travel subsidies, and publications.
4. The Executive Committee is in charge of the Scientific Program and in that sense it acts like a program committee. Over the last four years it has meet in Buenos Aires, Seville, and Bern to set general themes, solicit proposals, invite session organizers, select dissertation session participants, etc.
5.The Physical Program is not organized by the IEHA. Instead the Executive Committee considers offers from individuals or institutions who have volunteered to organize the Physical Program. In 1995 at its meeting in Buenos Aires the Executive Committee accepted the proposal advanced by Gabriel Tortella to hold the meeting in Seville. At that meeting it was proposed by Tortella that he would establish a foundation in Spain to receive contributions and that the foundation would contract with Proconsur to provide the local arrangements. The Executive Committee was not asked to accept or reject this detail, instead all the financial and other arrangements were left to Tortella. This is the practice that has been followed for at least the last three Congresses. As far as we know no money owned by the IEHA has been transferred to the Fundacion or to Proconsur and no contracts exist between the IEHA and the Fundacion or Proconsur.
6. Apparently for reasons not yet explained, Proconsur was permitted to circulate the first and second Congress Brochures and to collect reservations and money from participants before a contract was negotiated between the Fundacion and Proconsur. To this date no contract has been agreed to between the Fundacion and Proconsur.
Part II: Events Since the Suspension of the Seville Congress
1. Disputes over money, lists of names, etc, between Proconsur and the Fundacion became sufficiently great that Tortella -- after consulting the Bureau but without consulting the Executive Committee -- "suspended" the Congress.
2. The Executive Committee was notified less than two hours before the announcement was made public. When contacted on the day of the suspension, Gabriel Tortella said that "suspended" meant "canceled," that there was "no possibility of a meeting in Spain." Everyone was urged to ask for their money back from Proconsur.
3. Shortly after the announcement of the cancellation, the President-designate of the IEHA Roberto Cortes Conde established a "Provisional Emergency Committee" consisting of Cortes Conde, Scott Eddie, Stephen Nicholas, and Richard Sutch to attempt to gather information and formulate a course of action. All four are members of the Executive Committee. Repeated attempts were made to communicate with members of the Bureau and other members of the Executive Committee. As of yesterday morning all of these efforts (with one exception) were met with silence.
4. We understand that Samuel Williamson, Executive Director of The Cliometric Society has established an electronic bulletin board at the Congress@eh.net web site to serve as a method of communication and a source of information. We applaud this effort.
5. Via a posting to the Congress@eh.net e-mail list, John Komlos has offered to host the scientific program in Munich at the same dates originally scheduled for Seville. We have encouraged him to make preparations for such a meting in the event that the Spanish venue cannot be restored. It is our understanding that an Ad Hoc Committee to Save the Scientific Program is being formed and that this Committee has asked Komlos and Williamson to set up an organization to bring this about. We believe that the likelihood that a Spanish venue can arranged in time is small. We endorse Munich as the venue for the Scientific Program. Many Congress participants have told us that they would prefer that the alternative venue be outside of Spain.
6. We understand that legal action has been initiated between Proconsur and the Fundacion.
7. We have heard no word on the fate of the publications that were to have resulted from the Scientific Program. Many of you may have sent money to Proconsur for copies of these publications or asked your libraries to do so. We recommend that you ask for a refund of these sums. If the volumes are eventually published, there will no doubt be a renewal of an offer to purchase them.
8. Our requests to the Bureau for additional information have so far gone unanswered.
9. In the last twenty four hours we have succeeded in establishing communications with several other members of the Executive Committee who report to have had no communication from the Bureau. We are working hard to establish communication with all members of the Executive Committee. We are sure that it can be appreciated that with the global reach of the Executive Committee, the high frequency of vacations and holidays at this time of year, and the multiple native languages involved, this is no easy task.
10. We believe that democratization and reform of the governance of the IEHA is urgently required. We intend to call for a process by which changes to the Statutes of the Association can be considered, drafted, and submitted for General Assembly action in a timely fashion.
11. At the moment we are continuing to function as a "provisional" emergency committee. We hope to reestablish ourselves shortly, perhaps with additional Executive Committee Members, into an "official" emergency committee. We should be able to report some decisions within 48 hours, by 24:00 GMT on Friday.
12. We wish to reassure everyone that we are acting in what we perceive to be the best interests of the international scientific community given the information at hand. We are dedicated to keeping an international dialog between all economic historians open, mutually respectful, and productive.
Because of the time difference and other commitments, Roberto Cortes Conde has not been able to approve of the wording of this draft of the announcement. Accordingly, it does not carry his signature. Please feel free to communicate directly with the provisional committee by e-mail to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and rsutch@econ.Berkeley.edu.