Some presidential thoughts at the beginning of 2023

In this letter to the members, IAMCR president, Nico Carpentier, reflects on the accomplishments of 2022 and the projects planned for 2023.

Dear colleagues,

Now that the magical year of 2023 has started, It’s appropriate to look back at the year that has passed, and to look forward at the one that lies ahead. It has become a bit too customary, especially with COVID, to start texts like these with sentences that carry considerable weight and seriousness, and that mainly emphasise how difficult the past year has been. Yes, again, it was not an easy year, and yes, again, we managed quite well. 

But let me take you back to the summer of 2022, when we organised the site visit for our Lyon 2023 conference. Hosted by our dear colleague, Françoise Paquienséguy and her team, the plans for our 2023 conference, which had been on the table for quite some time, instantly became very real and tangible. We could see the buildings and rooms where you will present your work, where you will eat and drink, and where you will party… For IAMCR, all three do matter, of course. It was then when the idea of a face-to-face conference, something we all have been longing for, became a not-so-distant reality, in all its materiality. At that point in time, we could see IAMCR members being able to share the same material space again. And we will. Soon.

There are other reasons why we can be pleased about 2022. We had the revision of the IAMCR statutes accepted by our General Assembly. What appears to be a dry, simple and slightly bureaucratic fact, is—at least in my eyes—quite an achievement. We finally managed to have the voices of IAMCR Working Groups represented in our International Council. And even more importantly, we further clarified the difference between Working Groups and Sections, emphasising the temporary nature of Working Groups. This clarification will allow us to unblock our Working Group and Section structure, and launch a call for new Working Groups. This call will allow IAMCR members to put new ideas on our common agenda, to develop emerging (sub)fields, to bring more colleagues together, and to play a stronger role in the organisation. This call for new Working Groups will be published soon, and offers important prospects for IAMCR’s further growth.

Another innovation that came out of 2022 are the new IAMCR peace fellowships. The desire for global peace is very much part of IAMCR’s DNA, as the organisation is a child of the Cold War. We, as an organisation, have managed to navigate complex situations throughout our history, with a deep commitment to human rights, global dialogues, and critical scholarship. I believe that we can build on this foundation, to do even more, by supporting the collaboration of scholars who are embedded in countries, regions or communities that find themselves locked in antagonisms. These collaborations offer potential contributions to the agonisation of conflict, by building bridges and establishing networks that offer the promise of future peaceful interactions at a larger scale. It is a project that is dear to me, and I hope that all IAMCR members can contribute to its success by distributing this call for IAMCR peace fellows as widely as possible.

But, yes, all was not well in 2022. The year ended with the tragic news that we lost Annabelle, president of IAMCR from from 2008 to 2012, and a great colleague. We will miss her.

Nico Carpentier
President, IAMCR