The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) invites proposals on “Power, Publics, and the U.S. and the World” for its 2017 Annual Conference, to be held June 22-24 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View in Arlington, Virginia. Proposals must be submitted by December 1, 2016.

The production, exercise, and understanding of American power in the world takes many forms and touches myriad subjects. From exploring questions of strategy and statecraft to unpacking definitions of community, territory, and rights, scholars have illuminated the practice of American power and the many social and cultural processes that shape it. Members of various publics, domestic and foreign, also have commented on and constituted U.S. power. In policy and fiction, cultural production and political arrangement, scholars and their publics have worked—sometimes in tandem, sometimes at cross-purposes—to make meanings of the U.S. in the world.

SHAFR is dedicated to the study of the history of the United States in the world, broadly conceived. This includes not only foreign relations, diplomacy, statecraft, and strategy but also other approaches to Americans’ relations with the wider world, including (but not limited to) global governance, transnational movements, religion, human rights, race, gender, trade and economics, immigration, borderlands, the environment, and empire. SHAFR welcomes those who study any time period from the colonial era to the present.

2017 Program

The 2017 keynote address will be delivered by Mae Ngai, Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University. A renowned scholar of immigration history and policy, transnational history, and the American state, Ngai is the author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, 2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (Houghton Mifflin, 2010). She currently is working on a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in nineteenth-century California, Victoria, and the Transvaal.

The conference also will feature a Thursday afternoon panel entitled, “Can Law Restrain War?” Participants include:

Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law, Georgetown University
Author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon

Jack Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor, Harvard Law School
Author of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration

Helen M. Kinsella, Associate Professor in Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Author of The Image Before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction Between Combatant and Civilian

John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Author of Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History

Moderator: Mary L. Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University

The 2017 program will also host SHAFR’s fifth annual Job Search Workshop to help prepare our graduate student and newly minted Ph.D. members for the job market. Students will have the opportunity to receive individualized feedback on their cover letters and CV’s from experienced faculty members. Those submitting proposals for the conference may indicate their interest in the workshop by checking a box on the online submission form. However, you do not have to be a panelist to participate. The Job Workshop is open to all current graduate students and newly minted Ph.D.’s. Priority will be given to first-time participants.


SHAFR is committed to holding as inclusive and diverse a conference as possible, and we encourage proposals from women, scholars of color, LGBTQ historians, and historians residing outside of the United States, as well as scholars working in other disciplines (such as political science, anthropology, or American studies).

Graduate students, international scholars, and participants who expand the diversity of SHAFR are eligible to apply for fellowships to subsidize the cost of attending the conference. Please see below and visit the Conference Online Application Gateway for the online application form. The deadline to apply for these fellowships is December 1, 2016.

The Program Committee especially welcomes panels that transcend conventional chronologies, challenge received categories, or otherwise offer innovative approaches and fresh thinking.

Panel sessions for the 2017 meeting will run one hour and forty-five minutes. A complete panel usually involves three papers plus chair and commentator (with the possibility of one person fulfilling the latter two roles) or a roundtable discussion with a chair and three or four participants. Applicants should note that a roundtable discussion differs from a panel session in that the former necessarily involves an expansive approach, with contributors exploring the historiographical or conceptual dimensions of a broadly defined theme, rather than delving into the details of more narrowly defined subjects. The Committee is open to alternative formats, which should be described briefly in the proposal. Papers should be no longer than 20 minutes, or approximately 10 pages long. Papers must be shorter in situations where there are more than three paper presentations.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as part of a panel rather than submit individual paper proposals. Since complete panels with coherent themes will be favored over single papers, those seeking to create or fill out a panel should consult the “panelists seeking panelists” forum or Tweet #SHAFR2017.


All proposals and funding applications should be submitted via the procedures outlined at Applicants requiring alternative means to submit the proposal should contact the program co-chairs via e-mail at

Proposals should list the papers in the order in which participants will present, as they will be printed in that order in the conference program and presented in that order during their session.

Each participant may serve twice, each time in a different capacity. For example: you may serve once as a chair and once as a commentator; or once as panelist and once as chair or commentator. No participant may appear on the program more than two times.

AV requests, along with a brief explanation of how the equipment will be used, must be made at the time of application.

Any special scheduling requests (e.g., that a panel not take place on a particular day) must be made at the time of application.

While membership in SHAFR is not required to submit panel or paper proposals, an annual membership for 2017 will be required for those who participate in the 2017 meeting. Enrollment instructions will be included with notification of accepted proposals.

SHAFR and the media occasionally record conference sessions for use in broadcast and electronic media. Presenters who do not wish for their session to be recorded may opt out when submitting a proposal to the Program Committee. An audience member who wishes to audiotape or videotape must obtain written permission of panelists. SHAFR is not responsible for unauthorized recording. SHAFR reserves the right to revoke the registration of anyone who records sessions without appropriate permissions.

For more details about the conference hotel, the “panelists seeking panelists” forum, travel funding opportunities, and the Job Workshop, please visit the conference website,

We look forward to seeing you next June in Arlington!

SHAFR 2017 Program Committee
Robert Brigham (Vassar College) and Adriane Lentz-Smith (Duke University), co-chairs


Further information on available grants is also posted on the original Call for Papers page.