Call for Papers

Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora
10th Biennial Conference
The College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia


Remembrance, Renaissance, Revolution:
The Meaning of Freedom in the African World Over Time and Space

November 5-9, 2019

The year 2019 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the origins of slavery in what became the United States with the arrival of approximately twenty Africans in modern-day Jamestown, Virginia in August 1619. Described in English records as “twenty and odd” Negroes, these captive Africans from West-Central Africa reflected the growing intensity of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the world’s largest forced migration that connected Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Asia. This global system of migration, enslavement, and oppression was critical to the making of the modern world. Throughout the Black world, unfortunately, the emancipation of enslaved people did not result in full freedom. Moreover, decades of European worldwide colonial domination, especially within the African continent, further obstructed people of African descent in the global political economy, with a continued impact in the present day.

Africa is the birthplace of humankind, and under a multiplicity of circumstances, African descendants have dispersed and migrated to every corner of the globe. These numerous African diasporas are marked variously by (in)voluntary movement, servitude, trade, military/imperial objectives, and cultural, academic, and professional ambition. This broader understanding provides new opportunities to fully appreciate the complex histories and creative cultures of today’s many African diasporas. Despite vast differences across and within contemporary African diasporas around the globe, there remain broad commonalities of marginalization, exclusion and relative material deprivation for African-descended people in their respective societies. The contemporary world has seen a resurgence of blatant racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of intolerance directed towards the African-descended and other communities racially constructed as “others”. But despite past and present horrors, African-descended peoples across the globe have survived and thrived, remembering their pasts and re-envisioning their futures in ways that continue to lead to and strive for renaissance, freedom, and revolution in the contemporary world.

ASWAD invites panel and individual paper proposal submissions for its 10th biennial conference to be held in Williamsburg, VA (USA), November 5 to 9, 2019 on the campus of the College of William and Mary to discuss, examine, and reflect on the legacies of enslavement and the meaning(s) of freedom for people of African descent nationally and globally on the four hundredth anniversary of the origins of slavery in what became the United States. We also seek papers that interrogate the many other diasporas that began (and continue) in Africa, and continue to flourish in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific/Indian Ocean basins. We are particularly interested in panels and papers on the conference themes of remembrance, renaissance, and revolution in the many African diasporas across time and space. However, we encourage papers from any time period and topic related to the study of the African-descended.

As an interdisciplinary organization, ASWAD invites presentations that illuminate the lives of Africans and African descendants from scholars of any discipline, including the humanities, social sciences, performing arts, education, physical sciences, life and health sciences, engineering, and computer science. We aim to collaborate with activist and intellectual communities around sustained dialogue involving the black diaspora and the meaning of freedom across time and space, and the historical and contemporary legacies of slavery.

In addition to academics, ASWAD welcomes artists, activists, journalists, and independent scholars with specific interests in one or more of the many African Diasporas. We are especially keen to forge and to enhance collaborations between academics, independent scholars, and community members.

We encourage proposals that align with the conference theme. Suggested panel themes include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Slavery, Abolition, and Reparations
  2. Freedom, Resistance, and Revolution
  3. UN International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015-2024
  4. Importance of Remembering the Year 1619
  5. Humanitarianism and Human Rights across the African World
  6. Diasporic Feminisms, Women, Girls, and Global Africa
  7. Political Economy, Globalization, Migration, and the African Diaspora
  8. Religion, Power, and Praxis in the African Diaspora
  9. Music, Performance, and Cultural Activism in Africa and the Black World
  10. Families, Community, and the Black World
  11. The State, Citizenship, and Civil Society
  12. Black Lives Matter, Reaja ou Será Morta, Reaja ou Será Morto; Mass Incarceration, State Violence, and Resistance across the African World
  13. Black Queer Diasporas and Black LGBTQ People
  14. White Nationalism, Racism, Xenophobia, and the Contemporary Black World
  15. The Chesapeake and the African Diaspora
  16. Food, Health, Wellness, and Global Africa
  17. The Environment, Climate Change, Sustainability, and the African World
  18. Media, Representations, and Black People
  19. Literature and Translating the African Diaspora and Black Identities
  20. Social Media, Electronic Mediations, Digital Mobilities, and Technological Connectivities
  21. Diasporic communities in the Asian/Pacific World: China, India, Japan, etc.
  22. Sports and Black Athletes
  23. Temporality, Memory, and the African Diaspora
  24. Pedagogy, Higher Education, Community, and Activism
  25. Labor Organizing in Local and Transnational Contexts
  26. Black Europe
  27. Geographies, Space, and Place
  28. African Diasporic Futures: Challenges and Opportunities
  29. Pre-Atlantic Slave Trade Diasporas
  30. Diasporic Communities in the Middle East
  31. Trade, Labor, and Economic Migration Diasporas
  32. Professional/Educational Diasporas
  33. Cultural and Ethnic- Identified Diasporas (i.e. Yoruba diasporas)
  34. “State of the Field” Panels


Information about Excursions

The conference will take participants out of the academic setting and into local Virginia communities. Conference attendees will visit prominent historic sites and participate in community events, such as the “Day of Remembrance” at Point Comfort, the first landing place of Africans in 1619. They will tour Fort Monroe, the site of liberation of 100,000 blacks who escaped slavery during the Civil War; sites of the Underground Railroad and runaway slave maroon communities; the Nat Turner Trail and the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University. The conference coincides with an African Diaspora Food Festival, to be held in Williamsburg from November 8-10, 2019. Showcasing African, Caribbean, South American, African American and Native American cuisines and cultures, the Festival speaks to the diasporic nature of the ASWAD conference. The ASWAD conference will conclude with a tour of Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward, viewing of 1619 exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and a closing reception at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Instructions for Submission of Proposals

All ASWAD conference presenters must be members of ASWAD. To join or renew, please click here:

Whole panel proposals will be given priority in the review process. Please submit a panel proposal of no more than 200 words for thematic panels consisting of no more than four panelists, and a possible discussant. Proposals must include paper abstracts of no more than 150 words and bios of no more than 50 words for each presenter. Individual paper proposals may also be submitted. All participants must be members of ASWAD in good standing at the time of abstract submission.

The Deadline for Panel/Paper Proposals is March 1, 2019 and acceptance notification for Panels/Papers is expected April 1, 2019. Confirmation of conference attendance and paid conference registration will be required by May 15, 2019.

The link for Proposal Submission will be available on the ASWAD Membership Site beginning on January 1, 2019. Submission will require:

  • Panel proposal/description of no more than 200 words
  • Individual Abstracts of no more than 150 words for each paper
  • Bios of no more than 50 words for each presenter

All presenters must be paid ASWAD members for a proposal to be considered.


Mentoring Sessions

ASWAD 2019 will also feature special mentoring sessions open to registered conference attendees (Sign-up details will be posted at a later date).


For more information


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All ASWAD conference presenters must be members of ASWAD. To join or renew, please click here


All conference inquiries (other than proposal submission and membership) should be forwarded to: [email protected]