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The Inaugural UC Merced Africana Studies Conference


Call for Papers

Dates: February 24th & 25th, 2023

Location: The format will be hybrid (presenters can attend online or in person at the University of California, Merced, CA)

Final Deadline for Submissions: Extened from October 26, 2022 to December 30, 2022

Conference Title: Being and Becoming: Blackness in Multiple Contexts

Being and becoming Black are distinct realities.  Both circumstances center on complex experiences and realizations of those who identify as Black or who society sees as Black.  However, Being Black is an awareness of having a Black identity and what that means in society while Becoming Black is a process by which one comes to understand how the world sees them as Black and what that means for their lives. With this inaugural conference, we invite junior scholars to investigate what it means to be and become Black in multiple contexts including but not limited to local, national, and international geographic locations, academia, business, social, political, cultural, public, private, affluent, working class, and tech spaces among others.

This conference will bring together graduate students, early career PhDs and professionals across the University of California (UC) system and the nation. It will allow students to present their research and scholarship based on and around topics that relate to being and becoming Black in broad contexts and various lenses (including but not limited to anthropology, sociology, ethnic studies, Black studies, Native American studies, Chicano studies, history, philosophy, STEM, English, religion, music, theater, economics, finance, management, education, geography, law, political science, medicine, and psychology). In addition, for those who do not expressly study Black people but would like to share about their experiences of being or becoming Black, the conference will feature round tables that invite reflection and conversation from junior scholars on their experiences with being and becoming Black in academia and society at large. We encourage the participation of both national and international graduate students.


Submissions may engage with but are not limited to the following:

  • Local, national, and international Black, African, and African descended experiences
  • Dis/connections between academic and activist knowledge
  • Scholar activisms, organizing, collaboration, and engagement
  • Issues of colonization and decolonization in academia and in global nations and governments
  • Reflections on issues of gender relations, sexuality, systems of patriarchy and sexism, and the status of women
  • Interrogations of epistemological approaches to discussing Blackness
  • Innovative theorizing and methods of disciplinary research on Blackness
  • Inquiry into the economic, social, historical, linguistic, psychological, anthropological, cultural, and political factors that shape and have shaped African and Black societies
  • Disciplinary and transdisciplinary research that informs questions that relate broadly to Africanist knowledge
  • Art, poetry, and performance which interrogates Blackness, Africanism, critical inquiry, and our futures

Conference Format

The plan for this conference is to meet in person, in Merced, CA. This may change if there are any issues such as an increase in the pandemic or another public health emergency in the nation. An online format will be adopted if the need arises. All of that said, we hope to see you in Merced!

*All sessions are 90 minutes long. All conference formats are intended to encourage the presentation and discussion of projects at different stages of development and to foster intellectual exchange and collaboration.