108th Annual ECA Convention

Freedom To …

and Freedom From …

Boston, Massachusetts

March 29 - April 2, 2017

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Submission Deadline:  SATURDAY, October 15, 2017

No city in the United States is associated more with the tensions inherent in the concept of <freedom> than Boston, the site of our 2017 convention. Although the “Freedom Trail” that passes only twenty feet from the door of our convention hotel tells a story that Boston – and the United States – seeks simple <freedom>, its two endpoints show that <freedom> is no simple thing. The Massachusetts State House on the southern end negotiates daily the tension between governmental regulation and individual liberties. The USS Constitution on the northern end embodies the nation’s history desire for freedom from foreign aggression through its freedom to use military force. The Boston Common was used as a grazing ground, where there was freedom from livestock fees, but also freedom to enact the tragedy of the commons. Boston was home to the first Liberty Tree, an elm near Boston Common that was a site where everyday people sought freedom from the Stamp Act in 1765 and where British soldiers enacted their freedom to make this tree an object of ridicule and a site of punishment. Samuel Adams preached revolutionary freedom from British taxes, even while his cousin John Adams argued that even British soldiers have the freedom to demand a fair trial. Boston’s Justice William Cushing ruled in 1781, that “all men are born free and equal” to demand that Bostonians of African descent be released from slavery, even as slaveholders and legislators sustained laws that that allowed the freedom to hold slaves until the end of the Civil War. Throughout the Civil War, the first Red Scare of the 1920s, the busing and desegregation struggles of the 1970s and 80s, and to today in dozens of other examples, Boston has been a place where <freedom> has been a contested ground.

Our presence in Boston invites us to consider how the tensions in <freedom> are also present in our discipline. What does communication give us the <freedom> to do? What does it give us <freedom> from? What are the uses and abuses of free communication? When have others used their freedom to communicate to prevent freedom from other forces? And, when have we used the freedom to communicate to gain freedom from these forces? These are the kinds of questions I want our papers, panels, short courses, and other activities to explore.