First African and African American Studies Conference
“African Identities in the Age of Obama”
October 8-10, 2009

Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2009
George Mason University
George Johnson Center

Conference Chair: Wendi N. Manuel-Scott,

On 20 January 2009, the first African-American citizen, Barack Hussein Obama, was sworn in as the President of the United States of America. His inauguration as the 44th president reminds us that beliefs about persons of African ancestry based on their phenotypical appearance are precarious at best. We should not assume, for example, that the “black” skin of the newly elected leader of the United States signifies a descendant of an American slave. Instead, President Obama’s rise to power alerts us, once again, to the complexity of African identities in the modern era, particularly now that the 21st century is being heralded as the “post race” era. While African Americans, African immigrants, Caribbean immigrants, Afro-Latino immigrants, and Afro-European immigrants may have “black” skin, their cultural perspectives, historical experiences, and evolving identities should suggest different conceptions of Africanness.?

To provide a critical forum for the continued examination of African identities, the African and African American Studies (AAAS) Program at George Mason University (GMU) proposes a multidisciplinary conference titled “African identities in the Age of Obama.” This international meeting of scholars and students will be held on October 8-10, 2009, on the main GMU campus in Fairfax, Virginia. The objective of this conference is to create opportunities to explore the complex ways in which African identities are constructed, expressed and represented. AAAS seeks a broad range of papers representing diverse methodological approaches. Papers from scholars in the fields of African, African American and African diaspora studies are encouraged. Contributions that engage critically with notions of African identity in the age of Obama are especially welcome.

The deadline for proposal submissions is June 1, 2009.

Send proposals (plain text, Word, RTF or PDF) or inquiries to either:

Wendi Manuel-Scott
Conference Chair


Mika’il A. Petin
Associate Director – African and African American Studies
(703) 993-4080/(703) 993-4085

General Proposal Guidelines:

1. Completed Proposal Coversheet Form
2. Paper Title
3. Abstract – This brief description of the paper should not exceed 500 words
4. Biographical paragraph – Not to exceed 200 words
5. Mailing and e-mail addresses
6. Please indicate audio visual or equipment needs, if any

Proposal Review Procedure:

The Program Committee, chaired by Dr. Benedict Carton, is charged with reviewing proposals submitted within the stated guidelines. Proposals representing the conference theme will receive priority consideration. The proposal abstract must reflect a high quality of scholarship and originality. A list of sources and a concise topical statement and primary argument are integral to a strong proposal.

Proposals will be reviewed and ranked by the Program Committee. The committee will seek to insure a representation of the diverse geographic and methodological approaches, thus, a broad range of papers will be considered.

Presenters and panels will be notified by July 1, 2009 and asked to confirm their participation within five (5) business days. A letter with additional logistics will be sent by September 10, 2009.

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