General Information

Theme: Black Thought Matters

The African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) invites you to attend our third annual conference scheduled to take place on March 30-31, 2018 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Through a series of papers, panel sessions, roundtable discussions, films, and talks, this two-day conference will explore a wide-range of topics including religion, internationalism, slavery, sexuality, popular culture, and political thought. Please click here to view the CFP.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Barbara Ransby is an historian, writer, and longtime political activist. She has published dozens of articles and essays in popular and scholarly venues, and is most notably the author of a multi award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, entitled Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, (University of North Carolina, 2003). The book won several national awards including the 2004 Lillian Smith Book Award (Southern Regional Council), the 2003 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize (American Historical Association), the 2003 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize (Association of Black Women Historians), and the 2004 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award (Organization of American Historians). Dr. Ransby’s second book published in 2013 by Yale University Press is a political biography of Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson, entitled Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson. This book was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the North America Category, and won a Honorable Mention for the 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival in the Biography/Autobiography Category.

In addition to serving in administrative roles as Department Chair and Interim Vice Provost for Programs and Planning, Dr. Ransby serves on the editorial board of the London-based journal, Race and Class, the advisory board of The Chicago Woods Fund, and a number of non-profit, civic, and media organizations. In 2012 she became the second Editor in Chief of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Professor Ransby received a BA in History from Columbia University and an MA and PhD in History from the University of Michigan, where she was a Mellon Fellow. She is currently a Distinguished Professor at University of Illinois at Chicago in the Departments of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History. She also directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative at UIC.

In terms of her activism, Barbara Ransby grew up in Detroit during the 1960s and 70s. She became involved in anti-racist, prisoner solidarity work as a teenager. She continued to organize as a student leader of the anti-Apartheid movement at Columbia and University of Michigan. She was leader of the divestment movement at Columbia and helped to found the Free South Africa Coordinating Committee, United Coalition Against Racism, and the Ella Baker Nelson Mandela Center at the  University of Michigan.  In 1991 Barbara Ransby was co-founder of African American Women in Defense of Ourselves in 1991 and co-convener of the Black Radical Congress in 1998. She has worked with numerous local and national campaigns for social and racial justice and works closely with the Movement for Black Lives and a larger network of feminist activists and scholars. She is currently working with Political Scientist Cathy Cohen to launch Scholars for Social Justice. Dr. Ransby was elected in 2016 to a two-year term as President of the National Women’s Studies Association. She is currently completing a book, Making All Black Lives Matter for University of California Press (2018)

Panel Forum

If you are interested in forming a panel, please add a comment to the panel forum with your paper and/or panel idea(s). Be sure to include your email address so that others can easily reach you to follow-up. Also, if you are willing to chair or comment on potential panels you see listed here, please indicate that as well.


All participants must be registered for the conference by March 15, 2018. Early bird registration extends from January 1, 2018 to February 14, 2018 and is $20 for AAIHS members; $60 for non-members. Regular registration begins on February 15, 2018 and is $40 for AAIHS members and $120 for non-members. REGISTRATION FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.

Lodging Options
Boston Marriot Newton 
2345 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA 02466
$129.00 per night

Aloft Lexington 
727 Marrett Road – A
Lexington, MA 02421
$169.00/ night

Advertising and Book Exhibit

The conference committee is happy to offer advertising space in the conference program. We also have limited room available at a book exhibit to be held on both days of the conference. If your journal, press, organization, or department is interested in taking out an advertisement in our conference program or showcasing their catalog at our book exhibit, please email for more details.

2018 Conference Planning Committee
  • Gregory Childs (Brandeis University), chair
  • Ashley D. Farmer (Boston University), co-chair
  • Yesenia Barragan (Dartmouth College)
  • Garrett Felber (Harvard University)
  • Christopher Shell (Michigan State University)

Previous Conference Programs

AAIHS 2017 (Nashville, Tennessee)

AAIHS 2016 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)