“Brief thought on the AAIHS’ 2019 Conference” (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
In the past two days (March 22 and 23, 2019), I had an opportunity to attend for the first time the African American Intellectual Society’s (#AAIHS2019) fourth annual conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The beautiful canpus of the University of Michigan was the chosen venue for the conference.
The theme of the conference was “Black Internationalism: Then and Now.” As an intellectual historian of the Caribbean (i.e. Haiti) and Black America (i.e. African American Intellectual History), I was both thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to engage with other scholars on the subject matter. Overall, my scholarship intersect intellectual musings on Haiti, African American Studies, and the global blackness or what I have called in my 2012 dissertation, “Black Transnational Consciousness.”
I attended several great panels that were both intellectually informative and stimulating, contributing to a greater knowledge and understanding of the nature and workings of Black Intellectualism and Pan-Africanism, ans history of Black thought/ideas. There were four major interventions that made my day:
1) The group panel/discussion on “The Common Wind,” a seminal and creative text by the African American historian Julius Scott on Black intellectual tradition in the Atlantic world. I was fortunate to hear Dr. Scott talk about his work and his response to the panelists.
2) The interview with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi on his intellectual works (i.e. “Stamped from the Beginning”) on racial ideas and and anti-racial ideas. He talked about his forthcoming book on how to be an anti-racist. Can’t wait to read that one!
3) The “Haiti: Then and Now” Panel with Drs. Geri ( moderator), Bertin Louis, Marlene Daut, Gregory Pierrot, and Celucien Joseph (me). Bert and I have been organising this panel for the past five years, in various professional guilds such as the National Council for Black Studies, Caribbean Studies Association, and now African American Intellectual History Society. Daut gave an impressive presentation on Haitian archives with a particular on the right representation of Haiti through literature and how Haitians represent themselves in public. She examines the nineteenth century La Gazette newspaper counters the false public representations of Haiti and the Haitian peoole.
Moreover, Pierrot examines various visual representations and images of Toussaint Louverture–in the past three hundred years. Louis explores the relationship between Haitian Protestantism in the Bahamas and the dilemma of Haitian Bahamians or Bahamians of Haitian descent pertaining to immigration, citizenship, human rights issues, social activism, etc. Finally, in my presentation, I discussed three pivotal historical moments (1956, 1959, and 1960) relating to Price-Mars’ Black Internationalism and Pan-Africanism.
4. Featured Authors’ Book Display
I was pleased to see two of my books on display at the Conference: “Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective,” and “Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa.” Both texts were published in 2017 and 2018 by Lexington Books. Thanks to the wonderful AAIHS Board for acknowledging my scholarship.
Overall, I enjoyed the fellowship, intellectual exchange, and friendship of the AAIHS. It was both a delight and joy to participate in this wonderful and well-organized conference. I look forward to the next AAIHS conference that will be held at UT Austin (Austin, Texas).