The upcoming year promises to be an exciting one for the African American Intellectual History Society. Not only is the organization undergoing a period of tremendous growth, it is also hosting its first conference, New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition, at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. A two-day event taking place on March 10th and 11th, 2016, the conference will feature sessions on all aspects of the black intellectual tradition. The program includes panels foregrounding new perspectives on slavery, emancipation, and civil rights, as well as new directions for intellectual history in the age of social media.
The conference will kick off on Thursday March 10th with a session on “Performance, Space, and Movement in Africa and the Diaspora” featuring bloggers Greg Childs and Jessica Marie Johnson and another panel on nineteenth century black political and social thought. Those who have been following the latest campus demonstrations and the #Mizzousyllabus will find the session on black youth and campus activism informative. Later that day, participants will hear from AAIHS bloggers, and new and established scholars, on several central themes including racial identity, historical preservation, and black intellectual leadership. Other panels will include papers on transnational blackness, Pan-Africanism, and liberated spaces.
Participants interested in black feminism and black internationalism will enjoy the Thursday afternoon screening of Audre Lorde- The Berlin Years, 1984-1992. Chronicling an untold chapter of Lorde’s life, the film reveals her influence on local culture and politics and highlights her influence on German ideas of racism, homophobia, and classism.
The day will end with a keynote address from Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University. The Executive Committee welcomes conference participants to attend a reception immediately following Dr. Neal’s talk.
On Friday March 11th, participants will hear from new and emerging scholars on secularism and black intellectual life and African Americans and print culture in the Civil War era. AAIHS blogger Keisha Blain will join Adam Ewing and Robert Trent Vinson on a panel about Global Garveyism and the black intellectual tradition. In the afternoon, presenters will speak about the theory and praxis of African American education, black women and internationalism, and race, performance, and cultural production. Conference participants will also have an opportunity to attend a roundtable on #Blktwitterstorians, an online community of historians, students, and fans of African and African American history. This panel will feature the creators of the hashtag–Joshua Crutchfield and Aleia Brown–as well as historians Stephen G. Hall and Robert Greene II–two scholars who have been active in the monthly #Blktwitterstorians’ chat. The panel will also offer the opportunity to speak about the relationship between black intellectual history and social media.
Regardless of whether or not you are a historian, or the period of history in which you work, the AAIHS conference offers valuable opportunities to make new connections and learn more about novel digital and archival approaches to studying black intellectual history. Since it began 2014, AAIHS has quickly become a leader in the field of intellectual history and is one of the most widely read academic blogs. Our conference, “New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition,” promises to be the first of many gatherings of scholars devoted to cutting-edge and innovative scholarship in the black intellectual tradition. The Executive Committee looks forward to meeting you in Chapel Hill in March.
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