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Call for Papers

CFP: “Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth Century and the Digital Age”

April 24-26, 2015

University of Delaware and the Delaware Historical Society

Beginning in 1830 and continuing past the Civil War, once captive and free African Americans came together in national and state political conventions to strategize about how to achieve legal, labor and educational justice. The delegates to these meetings include the most well-known—if mostly male— writers, organizers, church leaders, editors and entrepreneurs in the canon of early African-American leadership: Richard Allen, Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet, Abraham and Mary Ann Shadd (Cary), George Downing, Charles Ray and others as well as those who have been all but forgotten. This symposium seeks to pose questions about the ways in which scholarly paradigms shift when the decades-long colored convention movement is considered with abolition as a principal axis that orders historical understandings of nineteenth-century racial and justice movements.

The Colored Conventions Project (coloredconventions.org) will host a two and half day symposium on April 24-26, 2015. We welcome papers from a broad range of inter/disciplinary perspectives including but not limited to religious, historical, literary, gender, visual and performance studies. 

We welcome papers that explore how colored conventions engage questions of:

  • circuits of print and geographic mobility
  • the politics of race and gender in the movement and its recoveries
  • the performance and production of civic and community belonging
  • iconographic and newspaper cultures
  • Black activism’s social networks
  • the processes and politics of archival and digital technologies
  • race in digital environments (including the politics of search engines, finding aids, and user interface)
  • subjects of debates: labor and “service,” legal rights, citizenship, the Black press, educational opportunities
  • the importance of physical space, black churches and halls
  • convention minutes as a neglected form
  • historiography and periodization

We especially encourage papers that highlight the organizational work of Black women who have been largely erased from convention minutes and hope to account for the crucial work done by women in the broader social networks that made these conventions possible.  

Proposals should include a description of the proposed paper (250-300 words) and a brief (no more than 3 page) CV submitted toinfo@coloredconventions.org by June 15th. Applicants will be notified by July 6th. We expect that airfare and accommodations will be covered and that an edited collection will follow. Please indicate your interest in possible publication in your proposal.

Symposium participants will be staying in Wilmington, DE, 25 minutes from the Philadelphia airport, mid-way between NYC and DC.  

About CCP: The Colored Conventions Project, hosted at the University of Delaware, seeks to bring the buried history of the nineteenth-century colored conventions movement to digital life. With P. Gabrielle Foreman as its faculty director and Sarah Patterson and Jim Casey serving as its graduate student co-coordinators, the project includes graduate and undergraduate researchers, library specialists and national faculty partners. Please contact info@coloredconventions.com or Gabrielle Foreman at gforeman@udel.edu for more information about the symposium or if you’re interested in joining the project as a national teaching partner.