Thursday, April 25, 2013

CFP: 1619: Making of America conference

Via H-Law, we have the following Call for Papers:
The Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center of Norfolk State University (NSU), in partnership with the Hampton History Museum is hosting a two-day conference, 1619: Making of America conference that will be held in Hampton and Norfolk, VA on September 26-27, 2013. This conference will offer scholars and participants from various disciplines a unique platform to engage in dialogue on important issues defining new interpretations of 1619 in American history.

This conference seeks to place the events stemming from 1619 within the context of Atlantic migration, culture, and race, and will emphasize the wide-ranging, familiar, and mobile character of the African Diaspora.  The overarching point is that Chesapeake society was part of a hybrid and global culture predicated on intimate and overlapping encounters among Africans, Native Americans, Western Europeans, and other cultures from around the globe.

Featured speakers for the conference include Michael Blakey (Director of the Institute for Historical Biology and the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor, College of William and Mary), Paul Finkelman (President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy and Senior Fellow, Government Law Center, Albany Law School), Linda Heywood (Professor of History and African American Studies at Boston University),James Sweet (Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin), John Thornton (Professor of African and African Diaspora History at Boston University), and Ben Vinson III (Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of Latin American History and Vice Dean of Centers and Interdepartmental Programs, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University).

The conference is sponsored in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Consult the conference website at:
After the jump, more on the submission process (deadline: May 15) and the conference themes.
The CFP continues:

Abstracts/Panel proposals
Prospective presenters should submit an abstract of 500 words or less to by May 15, 2013. Abstracts should include the presenter’s name, title of paper, institutional affiliation, and contact information (mailing address, phone number, and email address) and should be submitted as Microsoft Word files. Please, note that acceptance of an abstract for the conference automatically grants the conference organizers the right to publish it in the conference program and website. Upon acceptance, presenters are required to register for at least one day of the conference.

Selected conference papers may be published in an edited book.

Conference Registration Fees
Mandatory registration fees for the two-day conference are: Regular: $40 (per day; $75 for 2 days); Students: $25 (per day), by September 15, 2013 (lunch included). Online conference registration will be available by July 1st.

Please email abstracts to:
Dr. Patrick Mbajekwe

We are soliciting papers that will reflect one of the following conference themes:

1619 in Literature and Popular Culture
In her famous 1942 volume For My People, Margaret Walker included an angry poem entitled “Since 1619.” In it she asks, “How many years since 1619 have I been singing Spirituals?/How long have I been praising God and shouting hallelujahs?/How long have I been hated and hating?/ How long have I been living in hell for heaven?” Though seldom impugned so directly as in Walker’s poem, 1619 represents the original nexus of three great American literary and cultural traditions (Black, Red and White). It is a fountainhead that has spewed forth just as much blood and bile as water.

We invite papers on ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultural offerings related in any way to 1619, interpreted broadly and even symbolically. Topics might range from an examination of the early colonial ‘marketing’ pieces by Capt. John Smith to the deconstructions of Disney’s proto-green animated heroine Pocahontas. Target texts of interest might include Indian captive narratives, historical slave narratives and/or neo-slave narratives (across the media). In Toni Morrison’s 1992 work Playing in the Dark, she called on critics to seek out the “Africanist Presence” – the “ghost in the machine” that permeates classic American literature by Hawthorne, Melville, Poe, Twain and others. One can imagine a parallel critical quest to unearth (and then put to rest) the much obscured traces of indigenous peoples in American literature and popular culture.

Authorship of History and our understanding of the past
In 1933, Carter G. Woodson argued that a key component of the mis-education of the Negro was the race’s inability to tell its own story. Indeed, the earliest authors of African American history glorified white males, “justified slavery, peonage, segregation, and lynching” and supported the notion that blacks were inferior.  The story is the same for Native Americans, women, and any other group whose stories are told from the point of view of their oppressors. This panel will include papers addressing the power of authorship and how that power can change our understanding of the past, for better or for worse.

From “Slave” to Contraband and Beyond
When the nation spiraled into a civil war in 1861, most African Americans hoped for a swift Confederate defeat.  Three enslaved men—Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend—decided to seek freedom from enslavement the evening of May 23, 1861.  Their bold actions, and the subsequent “Contraband declaration” by General Benjamin Butler, commander at Fort Monroe,placed the government on a path that would eventually eradicate slavery through the Thirteenth Amendment.  This roundtable will examine the Contrabands who sparked the final movement to end slavery in America, and the legacy of the “Contraband Decision.”

Creolization in the Atlantic World
Traditionalhistorical accounts of the Atlantic encounters have often portrayed white conquest as inevitable, and Indian and African subordination as absolute, ignoring the rather complex hybrid cultures of the Atlantic world. This panel seeks papers that interrogate the rich and vibrant emerging hybrid lifestyles of the Atlantic world. We are interested in works that explore such themes as inter-ethnic and inter-racial marriages and unions, creolization of religion and medicine, art and architecture, music and language, etc.

Dimensions of the African Diaspora and the “Black Atlantic” in the Early Modern Era
The creation of a “Black Atlantic” involved a host of connections, influences, and movements in both material and immaterial culture.  Among many phenomena it included migrations, perceptions, acculturation, creolization, and foodways.  This panel will explore the roles of these components in establishing a hybrid network of peoples and cultures.

Foodways, Emerging Diseases, Pandemics, and Haplotyping in 1619
Biological evolution followed individual paths on the various continents, creating multiple but primarily separate biological worlds. However, beginning in 1619 in Virginia, we would see a conflation of peoples, plants, and animals from three continents that would disrupt the biological segregation having lasting effects on the each of the three continental regions of the Atlantic World.  Genetic confluence, created in segments of DNA called haplotypes, allows ancestral genomics to be traced across generations. Because haplotypes are shared by a majority of the human population, they can be used to decipher the genetic differences that make some people more susceptible to disease than others.  These new diseases were introduced to the Amerindian, African, and European populations that had no prior experience of them. The results were devastating to some and transformative for others. These populations also were introduced to new weeds and pests, livestock, and pets. We invite papers that will examine this period not simply from the impact that Europeans had on the Amerindians but from a broader perspective in which cultural practices, including medical, crop cultivation, foodways, were transformed beginning in this early colonial period and continuing over the next few centuries.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts and the American Colonization Society (ACS)
They came from almost all the Southern states and from as far west as Colorado. Many of the Southern migrants were born free, but a large number had been freed from enslavement on the expressed condition that they leave the United States.African Americans in Liberia were frequently called "white men" by the West Africans whom they encountered. This was partly because many of them were mulatto, but also because they took nineteenth-century American values to Africa with them.  This panel will examine the complex history of Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first president of Liberia, the ACS, and the meaning of Liberia that emerged as an important player in Africa.

Native America at 1619
Native America at 1619 seeks presenters who can speak to the lifeways, practices, spiritual beliefs and diplomatic concerns of indigenous peoples within the colonial dynamic of the Tidewater region in the first decades of contact. Presentations might focus on how Native groups in the area were represented by colonial travel narratives, ethnographies, etc., but the panel also seeks to privilege articulations of indigenous frameworks and perspectives that might help foster a greater understanding of the complex intercultural milieu of the 1619 era.

Negotiating Leadership through Diaspora Networks
Diaspora populations have played a significant role in conflicts involving their homelands. Political lobbying, education, and fundraising are all tools used by these Diaspora networks to improve their positions in their host countries.  This panel seeks to discuss people whose identity connects them with Africa.  These individuals have negotiated power through creating or utilizing the connections of those in the Diaspora worldwide.

Race, Law, and Slavery in Early America
This panel seeks to examine the impact of race and slavery in the formation of the law during America's early years. During the formative years in Jamestown, the early English immigrants used English law to govern their colony. With the formation of a limited representative government in 1619, colonists began forging law that was based on English Common Law that recognized the right to enslave a non-Christian or a captive taken in a just war. Africans and Indians might fit one or both of these definitions but the question that soon emerged was whether, if they learned English language and converted to the Anglican Church, they should be released from bondage and given "freedom dues."  At some point, this governing body ruled that status would be determined not by (changeable) religious faith but by (unchangeable) skin color.  By 1641, Massachusetts had become the first colony to legally recognize slavery. Virginia followed in 1661 and Maryland in 1662, although the practice of holding people in permanent bondage had begun as early as the late 1630s.

We also welcome papers that investigate the diversity of legal traditions and approaches, whether custom or positive law, martial law or canon law, and their intersections with slavery and freedom in early America.  Did Africans and Amerindians contribute to this legal landscape in some way?

Slaveholding Institutions:  Reconciling with the past
While most of the Africans brought here and their descendants who were born here were owned or hired by individuals, we know that some were owned by institutions.  Indeed, colleges, universities, churches, and even state governments owned enslaved people. Papers for this panel will shed light on this historical phenomenon, and how present day institutions are investigating their pasts with an eye toward reconciliation.

What It Means to be American
When the Founding Fathers created the United States of America, they had a clear idea of who and what they felt should be considered American. As soon as the concept was defined, however, it immediately began to be discussed and challenged among those who were left out of the discussion. This panel seeks papers that grapple with the concept of what it means to be an American, with who gets included and who gets excluded from this category, and with the implications of fitting or not fitting the definition of American.