Call for Papers/Panels

Known to locals as “H-Town” and “the Prophetic City,” Houston is the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the United States and the fourth largest city in the nation. Since its official founding in 1837, Afrodiasporic people have fundamentally shaped Houston’s social and cultural landscapes. Precisely what opportunities have Black people negotiated and redefined, created and maintained in response to life lived in the Bayou City? How do residents establish their sense of place in the city, and in what ways might Houstonian cultural productions continue to influence Black artists, activists, and scholars in the 21st century? Houston certainly provides an ideal landscape to reflect on the rich contributions of shifting and dynamic Afro-Diasporic communities as key to a fuller picture of Black southern histories in the United States.

Rice University and the Black Houston(s) Planning Committee welcome submissions for the 2024 symposium. For our purposes, the African Diaspora, broadly defined, consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality. To that end, Black Houston(s): Place and Memory will bring together scholars, activists, policy influencers and community members from around the country to Houston. Symposium contributors will explore the ways in which Afro-Diasporic communities have impacted Houston’s history and culture as well as examine the emerging and ongoing issues Afro-Diasporic Houstonians face in the 21st century. Through this symposium, we aim to: (1) produce new knowledges related to Black Houston(s), and publish this information in an edited volume; and, (2) provide a platform for scholarly and community engagement and collaboration.

The committee welcomes individual paper submissions and panel proposals from multiple areas of engagement that include (but are not limited to):

  • Scholars in all stages of their careers and/or from various disciplines such as African American Studies, American Studies, Architecture, Art History, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, History, Medicine, Music History, Psychology, Religious Studies, etc.
  • Representatives from Non-profit organizations
  • Community artists, intellectuals, journalists, and scholars, activists and community organizers

While we are open to a range of topics, we are particularly interested in papers and panels that explore a wide range of issues that include but are not limited to:

  • Policy and Activism in Houston (Historic court and legal cases that altered Black History)
  • Cultural Products–Architecture, Art, Dance, Food Culture, Music, Oral Tradition, Writing, Religion, Film, Photography—in Afro-Diasporic Houston
  • Methodological Innovation in Afro-Diasporic Houston—ethnographic, participatory, activist, experimental and response-able forms of research.
  • Historic landscapes and geography of Afro-Diasporic Houston
  • Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Projects about Houston’s Afro-Diasporic Culture
  • Black STEM in memory and place (video games, animations, sciences etc.)
  • Sustainable and Systemic Changes in terms of Architecture (How has history been able to spark urban and sustainable development)

The symposium will take place March 21-22, 2024 at Rice University and the African American Library at the Gregory School. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required to attend.

Submission instructions

Deadline: January 19, 2024

To submit a paper or panel proposal, please fill out the Call for Papers/Panels form below.

Please submit a 500-word abstract of the paper or panel proposal. Please be certain to include title of paper/panel, your name, institution/affiliation, and contact information. If proposing a panel please list all panelists and affiliations. Please submit abstracts as a PDF.

Participants will hear back about acceptance to the Symposium by the second week of February, 2024. Please email with questions.

Symposium Publication

Selected papers will be included in the symposium edited volume. Papers selected for inclusion must be original work and not previously published, and the paper cannot be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Graduate students and early career scholars are encouraged to apply. If your paper is accepted, the final submission will be due no later than July 1, 2024.

The symposium is generously supported by:

  • CERCL (The Center for Engaged Research and Learning)
  • The Fondren Library
  • Center for African and African American Studies
  • Taskforce on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice
  • The African American Library at the Gregory School


Email with questions.

Submit Paper or Panel
One file only.
10 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf.
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