28/2/2021 – CFP 2nd AISNA Graduates Conference

2nd AISNA Graduates Conference

Voting Divide: The Changing Boundaries of Citizenship in the United States

May 6, 2021 Centro Studi Americani, ROME
virtual event through online streaming


Here, in the very first paragraph of
the Declaration [of Independence],
is the assertion of the natural right of all to the ballot;
for how can ‘the consent of the governed’ be given,
if the right to vote be denied?
Susan B. Anthony, 1873

DEADLINE: February 15, 2021
DEADLINE EXTENDED to February 28, 2021



Already in 1873 Susan B. Anthony warned on the existence of a gap between those who could seamlessly express their vote and those who were excluded from doing so. Over the centuries, the disenfranchisement of voting rights has created social fractures – a “voting divide” – that even today appears not entirely resolved. In this respect, the year 2020 marks the anniversary of two milestones for the meaning of U.S. citizenship: the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 15th Amendment (1870), which prohibited any racial discrimination in the exercise of the franchise, and the centenary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment (1920), which extended the right to vote to American women.

The original constitutional provision failed to specify which rights citizenship conferred and which Americans were actually to be considered as citizens. Historical achievements like the 15th and 19th Amendments did not entirely solve the problem. In 2020 election year, gender, race, class, education, religion, and legal impediments have still appeared to be discriminating factors for citizens in exercising their suffrage autonomously and freely. Furthermore, the consequences of Covid-19 has worsened the existing voting divide.
In the wake of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, the AISNA Graduates Forum invites graduate students and early-career researchers to send abstracts that inquire the multiple ways in which history, literature, political science, and the arts explore Americans’ fraught access to political rights and the challenges posed to the very concepts of American citizenship and democracy. “Literature helps us feel history” (M. E. Whitt, 2006), as the life and works of authors like James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry and, more recently, Fred Moten or Claudia Rankine testify. Indeed, literature and the arts help us understand or make sense of the past, but also rethink history in terms of possibilities for the future. For this reason, we seek investigations in the theme that cut across disciplinary lines, providing historical background but also contemporary insight that generate innovative explorations of the fraught relationship between access to the ballot and American citizenship.

The topics in the following list are reflective of the theme and scope of the conference, but issues not included are also welcome:

• The role of suffrage in the definition of women’s citizenship.
• Gender and/vs. race in the fight to vote.
• Literary images of minorities’ and women’s disenfranchisement.
• Black disenfranchisement in social, political and intellectual history.
• Disenfranchisement of Native Americans, Asian immigrants, and Latinx communities across history.
• The 15th and 19th Amendments from a transnational perspective.
• Naturalization and the meaning of citizenship from abroad.
• Media, cultural, and artistic representations of the voting divide.
• The legacy of the mobilization for women’s suffrage in the age of #MeToo.
• Narratives and spaces of the today struggle against the voting divide.
• Legal impediments to universal suffrage (gerrymandering, state provisions, mandatory registration, etc.).
• Economic limitations to voting rights.
• The interplay of voter suppression and propaganda.
• Impact of public health issues on universal suffrage.


Proposals from the fields of history, literature, political science, sociology, cultural and media studies are welcome. We encourage interdisciplinary approaches, and we also welcome pre-formed panels and roundtables alongside traditional papers. Speakers will be allowed to present through online platforms.

Proposals should include:

• 300-word abstracts for individual presentations;
• 700-word abstracts for entire sessions (panels, roundtables);
• Each speaker’s bio (300 words max).