#AAIHS2021: Call for Papers–A Virtual Conference

Black Panther mural dating from 1996, 3406 Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles (Library of Congress).

Theme: ‘The West’

Dates: March 19-20, 2021

“The West” is a significant, but ambivalent, concept in the diasporic Black experience. From a hegemonic perspective, imperial governments and white intellectuals have used the concept to demarcate the supposedly “civilized” from the “uncivilized,” and the modern from the pre-modern. Globally, it has been used to divide some ethnic and racial groups while coalescing others. “The West” is also a physical location, encompassing various regions, nations and states primarily in Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and neighboring islands.

In the United States, “the West” includes a vast and diverse region, typically including the states west of the Mississippi River. By force or choice, voluntarily or involuntarily, Black people immigrated and migrated westward. For many Black people in the US South, especially during the era of Jim Crow, “the West” represented a new beginning. However, Black people migrating west soon learned the landscape offered a complex racial geography that both met and fell short of their expectations.

We invite scholars to think deeply about the complicated and often conflicted relationship between Blackness and “The West” (as a concept, imagined geography, and physical space). We encourage proposals that grapple with these and other questions: a) What does “The West” mean in the contemporary moment of Black life? b) From the early modern period until our contemporary reality, how have Black people in the Americas and around the world navigated “The West” in terms of principle, imagined geography, and physical space? c) What can interactions between Indigenous peoples and peoples of African-descent in the West do to enlighten us about the concept of the West? d) Can Black people, as a historically subjugated  population, represent and embody “The West?” And, perhaps just as importantly, why would they want to?

AAIHS welcomes individual proposals for abbreviated presentations (5-6 minutes) that consider “The West” from a variety of perspectives, including, but not limited to, gender, sexuality, religion, digital humanities, politics, class, popular culture, art, literature, and environmental justice. Each proposal will be considered for inclusion in one of the featured conference sessions, which will be scheduled remotely on March 19 or March 20, 2021.

Additionally, the conference committee will identify proposals to consider including in a forthcoming special forum AAIHS is organizing for Modern Intellectual History, a leading journal that publishes scholarship in intellectual and cultural history from 1650 to the present. Invited authors will submit a full draft of a journal article no later than December 30, 2021. Finally, submitted proposals will also be considered for inclusion in a forthcoming AAIHS edited volume based on the 2021 conference theme.

This year, AAIHS will not be accepting proposals for full panels. We are only accepting proposals for individual abbreviated presentations. The conference committee, in consultation with the AAIHS board, will select proposals to include in featured panels (and in the forthcoming special journal issue and edited volume). AAIHS invites scholars at various ranks and affiliations (from graduate students to senior faculty and independent scholars) to submit proposals for consideration. Each proposal should include a title and approximately 500 words, clearly explaining the paper’s argument; methods and methodologies; interventions; and engagement with the conference theme. Submissions should also include a short CV (1-3 pages in length), highlighting previous publications and presentations, if applicable. We will post a link for proposal submissions via the AAIHS website on August 21, 2020.


Conference Planning Committee 

  • Chair: Stefan Bradley, Loyola Marymount University
  • Alaina Morgan, University of Southern California
  • Brandon Byrd, Vanderbilt University
  • Jasmin Young, The University of California, Riverside
  • Adam McNeil, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

 *Please email conference@aaihs.org to reach the conference committee.

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