Online Roundtable: Brandon R. Byrd’s ‘The Black Republic’

December 7-11, 2020

Black Perspectivesthe award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting a week-long online roundtable on Brandon R. Byrd’s The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). The roundtable begins on Monday, December 7 and concludes on Friday, December 11. It will feature pieces from Leslie M. Alexander (Arizona State University), Shaun Armstead (Rutgers University, New Brunswick), Christina C. Davidson (Washington University in St. Louis), and Chelsea Stieber (Catholic University of America). At the conclusion of the roundtable, the author Brandon R. Byrd (Vanderbilt University) will respond. On Friday at 12noon EST, Byrd will join Marlene L. Daut (University of Virginia) for a lunchtime discussion about the book (registration details will be announced on the site soon).

During the week of the online roundtable, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 5:30AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHSon Twitter, like AAIHS on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the roundtable.


About the Author

Brandon R. Byrd is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth century black intellectual and social history, with a special focus on black internationalism. His book, The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), recovers a crucial and overlooked chapter of black internationalism and political thought by exploring the ambivalent attitudes that black intellectuals in the post-Civil War era held toward Haiti. Dr. Byrd’s scholarship has appeared in journals such as The Journal of African American History, The Journal of Civil War Era, Slavery and Abolition, and The Journal of Haitian Studies, and in popular outlets, including The Washington Post. Support for his research has come from numerous institutions and organizations including Vanderbilt University, Marquette University, the American Philosophical Society, the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at UMass-Amherst, the Marcus Garvey Foundation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. Byrd is a co-editor of the Black Lives and Liberation series published by Vanderbilt University Press. Follow him on Twitter @bronaldbyrd.


About the Participants

Leslie M. Alexander is Associate Professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies and the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. A specialist in early African American and African Diaspora history, her first book, African or American?: Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861, explores Black culture, identity, and political activism during the early national and antebellum eras. Alexander’s forthcoming monograph, “Fear of a Black Republic: African Americans, Haiti, and the Birth of Black Internationalism” examines how the Haitian Revolution inspired the birth of Black internationalist consciousness in the United States, and why it prompted U.S. Black activists to protect and defend Haitian sovereignty during the nineteenth century. It also delves deeply into why the United States government denied Haiti’s autonomy for several decades, and what the debate over Haitian independence revealed about the larger battle over race and slavery throughout the Atlantic World.


Shaun Armstead is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her dissertation, “Imagined Solidarities: Black Liberal Internationalism and the National Council of Negro Women’s Journey from Afro-Asian to Pan-African Unity, 1935 to 1975,” charts the understudied international activities of one of the largest African American women’s organizations in U.S. history. She considers their efforts to unite with women of color outside the western world to reimagine liberal internationalism as an anti-racist, anticolonial, and antisexist global order. Her work is at the intersection of histories on women’s internationalism, Black internationalism, and Global South Feminisms during the twentieth century.


Christina C. Davidson is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Danforth Center at Washington University in St. Louis and will join the History Department at the University of Southern California in 2022. She earned a Ph.D. in History from Duke University where she specialized in Latin American & Caribbean history, African Diaspora Studies, and American Christianity. Her research focuses on the history of religion, particularly the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and its intersections with racial formation and U.S. empire. Her first book, tentatively entitled, Converting Hispaniola: Religious Race-Making in the Dominican Americas explores diplomatic and cultural relations between the Dominican Republic and the United States in the late nineteenth century. Dr. Davidson’s scholarship has appeared in the New West Indian Guide, the Journal of Africana Religions, and the journal of Church History. She has received funding from the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, the Fulbright-Hayes DDRA fellowship, the New York Public Library, the Social Science Research Center, and the African American Intellectual Historical Society in support of her research. Follow her on Twitter @CeceDavidson.


Chelsea Stieber is an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She received her PhD jointly from the Department of French and Institute of French Studies at New York University in 2013. Her book, Haiti’s Paper War: Post-Independence Writing, Civil War, and the Making of the Republic, 1804-1954 (NYU Press, 2020), explores the critical internal challenge to Haiti’s post-independence sovereignty. Her analysis of Haitian writing that followed independence offers a new literary history of Haiti, that challenges our interpretations of both freedom struggles and the postcolonial. Research for this project was made possible in part by a Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress. She is currently a 2020 ACLS Fellow for her new projectCaribbean Fascism: Antiliberalism and Integralism in the Twentieth Century. Follow her on Twitter @chelseastieber.


Lunchtime Book Talk: Friday, December 11

At 12:00PM Eastern, AAIHS will host a book talk with Brandon R. Byrd and Marlene Daut (University of Virginia). We will be posting registration information on the AAIHS website and on our social media feeds.

Marlene L. Daut is Professor of African Diaspora and American Studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World and Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism. A collection she co-edited, Haitian Revolutionary Fictions: An Anthology, will be published by the University of Virginia Press in 2021. She is currently working on two additional books. The first of these, Awakening the Ashes, is an intellectual history to be published by the University of North Carolina Press. The second, tentatively titled, The First and Last King of Haiti, is under contract with Knopf/Pantheon Books. Follow her on Twitter @FictionsofHaiti

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