Call for Proposals: "Pathways to Democracy" 2021 OAH Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL

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Call for Papers
December 2, 2019 to February 3, 2020
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, African American History / Studies, Chicana/o History / Studies, History Education, Public History

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Since the beginning of American history, some residents of the United States have thought of themselves as living in a “democracy,” even when vast numbers of their fellow residents were excluded from voting and full citizenship by virtue of race, gender, or lack of property. Yet, the influences from classical Greece to Haudenosaunee as expressed in the founding documents of the nation often inspired those left out of full citizenship to fight for rights that would allow them to claim the power to be full members of the civic society. In addition, discussions of modern democracy often disavow how it was built on systems of inequality and extraction: settler colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery, imperialism.

In our own times, it is clear that democratic principles need to be living and to be protected, and the quest for civil and human rights never can be taken for granted. How has democratic practice informed American politics and culture, including the ways historians have written about the changing contours of democracy? How have the boundaries of full citizenship been reshaped by social movements and political transformation, at national, regional and local levels? What responsibility do we have as historians to inform public debate about democracy and citizenship in our teaching, research, publications, and exhibitions? How might we reimagine and reorganize our colleges and universities to respond to the crises of climate justice, for example, in participatory democratic ways? In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election, has civic engagement by historians been renewed or diminished? The 2021 OAH Annual Meeting will address the theme of “pathways to democracy” in our past and present.

The Program Committee welcomes proposals from all areas and eras of early American and U.S. history, broadly conceived. While “pathways to democracy” might be linked to virtually every subject historians study and teach, the committee does not expect all papers and sessions to adhere to the conference theme. The OAH meeting will continue to be a site for wide-ranging conversation, a place to talk across subfields, to experiment with methods, topics, and presentation, and especially to learn from one another. The committee encourages proposals for panels, workshops, and roundtables that transcend traditional disciplinary and geographic boundaries, and especially that showcase work that reaches to a broader public. We welcome teaching sessions, particularly those that involve the audience as active participants.

The program will reflect the full diversity of the OAH membership in the United States and abroad. We especially aim to include public historians, archivists, curators, and independent scholars as well as those teaching at universities, colleges, community colleges, and secondary schools. Whenever possible, proposals should include presenters of different genders, different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and different levels of seniority in the profession. We prefer to receive proposals for complete sessions but will consider individual paper proposals as well.


Collaborate on panels for the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting taking place in Chicago, IL.

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Contact Info: 

Organization of American Historians
112 N. Bryan Avenue Bloomington, Indiana 47408-4141
Telephone: 812-855-7311 

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