#AAIHS2018 Conference Preview: Black Thought Matters

Panel at the 2016 AAIHS conference (Jerry Gershenhorn, Lindsey Jones, Ibram X. Kendi, Paula Austin).

Continuing its ongoing goal of fostering conversations about Black thought and thinkers, the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) will host its Third Annual Conference next month. From March 30th– 31st, 2018, hundreds of artists, activists, and scholars will convene at Brandeis University to approach the theme of “Black Thought Matters” from multiple viewpoints and scholarly disciplines. The two-day event will include roundtables, film screenings, panel sessions, and workshops–all dedicated to exploring Black intellectualism across time, region, and scholarly focus.

The conference will open on Friday morning with a series of panels addressing archival practices, Black feminist thought, early twentieth century Black thinkers, and the Black Press. As the day continues, conference participants will hear from panelists on the question of political ideologies and Black leadership during the civil rights movement. Bloggers such as Joshua Clark Davis will speak to the legacy of Black intellectualism and activism after the Black Power Movement. Other Black Perspectives contributors, including J.T. Roane, will discuss how Black thinkers have navigated “Sexuality, Politics, and the State” during the twentieth century. Those interested in anti-colonial thought will enjoy the panel on “Black Women and Anti-Imperialist Thought in the Caribbean,” which includes blogger Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Other panels will address Black thought and land ownership, Black queer thought, and reparations.

Barbara Ransby

The first day of the conference will conclude with a keynote address from historian, writer, and longtime political activist, Barbara Ransby. 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). 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 RobesonRansby’s keynote address, “Black Insurgent Thinkers and 21st century Freedom-making” will offer insights about the intersections of Black thought and Black activism today. In an effort to continue these important conversations, there will be a reception immediately following the keynote address, which will feature recent scholarly publications in the fields of African Diaspora and Black intellectual history.

The second day of the conference will both continue and extend these productive discussions. The Saturday schedule includes a panel on “Black Thought, Black Politics, and Black Personhood in Colombia” as well as presentations on “Digital Geographies, Critical Black Publics, & Futures of Black Scholarly Practices.” Participants will have the option to attend one of two plenary sessions: “Black Internationalism: Then and Now” or “W. E. B. Du Bois’s Black Thought @ 150: History, Memory, Literature & Politics.” In an exciting addition to the program, conference attendees will be able to spend the Saturday lunch period participating in a film screening of “U Street Contested” or an interactive workshop on “Reclaiming the Blues” led by Junious Lee Brickhouse.

Since its founding in 2014, AAIHS has become a digital and in-person community dedicated to advancing conversations about Black thought and culture. The Third Annual Conference promises to be a space in which participants will not only diversify the field of Black intellectual history but also offer new scholarly and activist approaches to the study of Black thought. The 2018 Conference Committee welcomes your engagement and participation in the conference and looks forward to welcoming you at Brandeis in March.

*Click here to view the preliminary conference program.

*Click here to become a member of AAIHS.

*Click here to register for the conference.

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Ashley Farmer

Ashley Farmer is an Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and an M.A. in History from Harvard University. Her book, Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era, is the first intellectual history of women in the black power movement. Follow her on Twitter @drashleyfarmer.