Call for Papers

The 2020 Conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

"Gulfs, Seas, Oceans, Empires”

June 18-20, 2020



 Deadline: 1 December 2019

Looking to form a Panel?  Then visit the Panelists Seeking Panelists Form.

The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) invites proposals for its 2020 annual conference, to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18-20, 2020. While particularly keen to explore the theme of “Gulfs, Seas, Oceans, Empires” – a theme inspired by New Orleans’ historic place as a port city and center of Caribbean exchange – the Program Committee welcomes papers and panels that address foreign affairs in all its varied forms. The deadline for proposals is December 1, 2019.

SHAFR is dedicated to the study of the history of the United States in the world, broadly conceived. Given that the production, exercise, and understanding of U.S. power takes many forms and touches myriad subjects, the Program Committee welcomes proposals reflecting a broad range of approaches and topics. The 2020 conference theme invites particular reflection on matters such as geography, region, the environment, and disparities in power. More generally, the theme suggests attention to connecting currents and deep divides stretching back to precolonial relations between Indigenous peoples, colonial encounters, and the Atlantic slave trade, and forward to our own time.


SHAFR is committed to inclusion and diversity, and encourages proposals including members of groups historically under-represented within the organization. We particularly encourage proposals from women, scholars of color, colleagues residing outside of the United States, and scholars working in other disciplines. Your proposal must include a diversity statement that describes how it will advance this SHAFR commitment.

Graduate students, international scholars, and scholars whose participation might expand the organization’s breadth are encouraged to apply for SHAFR grants to subsidize the cost of attending the conference. Please see below for details.

Panel sessions for the 2020 meeting will run one hour and forty-five minutes. A complete panel typically includes three papers plus chair and commentator (with the possibility of one person fulfilling the latter two roles) or a conceptually more expansive roundtable discussion with a chair and three or four participants. Papers should be no longer than twenty minutes and must be shorter in situations where there are more than three paper presentations.

The Committee is open to alternative formats, especially those based on discussion and engagement with the audience, which should be described briefly in the proposal. The Program Committee welcomes panels that transcend conventional chronologies, challenge received categories, or otherwise offer innovative approaches and fresh thinking.

Individual paper proposals are also welcome, though 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 at or Tweet #SHAFR2020.

The Program Committee hopes to develop a pool of potential commentators/chairs for panels constructed from individual proposals. If you are interested in volunteering for this pool, please apply at

The Program Committee also welcomes panel proposals that have secured endorsements from other related professional organizations (including, but not limited to, the Society for Military History, the World History Association, the American Society for International History, the Business History Conference, and the American Society for Legal History). Members of these organizations wishing to submit a panel proposal to SHAFR should include a letter of endorsement from the organization’s appropriate officers. These must be submitted at the time of application and included in your proposal.



All proposals and funding applications should be submitted via Applicants requiring alternative submission means should contact the program co-chairs at [email protected].

Each participant may serve only once in any capacity on the program (for example as a presenter or commentator) and not more than twice during the conference.

AV requests, along with a brief explanation of how the equipment is essential to the presentation, must be made at the time of application and included in your proposal. AV access is limited and expensive. As such, please carefully assess your AV needs and realize that such requests can place limits on when and where we schedule accepted panels.

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

Generally, annual membership in SHAFR is required for those participating in the 2020 meeting. The president and program committee may grant some exceptions to scholars whose specializations are outside the field.Enrollment instructions will be included with notification of accepted proposals.



SHAFR has two travel funding grant programs for the 2020 annual meeting. Applicants who meet the criteria for both grants are welcome to apply for both.

Divine Graduate Student Travel Grants



SHAFR will award several Robert A. and Barbara Divine Graduate Student Travel Grants to assist graduate students presenting papers at the 2020 conference.

The following stipulations apply:

  1. no award will exceed $300
  2. priority will be given to graduate students who receive no or limited funds from their home institutions
  3. expenses will be reimbursed by the SHAFR Business Office upon submission of receipts.

The Program Committee will make decisions regarding awards. A graduate student requesting travel funds must make a request when submitting the paper/panel proposal.

Applications should include:

  • a 1-page letter from the applicant
  • reference letter from the graduate advisor that also confirms the unavailability of departmental travel funds.

The two items should be submitted through the online application system above after the panel/paper proposal is submitted. Funding requests will have no bearing on the committee’s decisions on panels/papers, but funds will not be awarded unless the applicant’s submission is accepted by the program committee in a separate decision. Application deadline: December 1, 2019.


SHAFR Global Scholars and Diversity Grants



SHAFR also awards Global Scholars and Diversity Grants to help defray travel and lodging expenses for the 2020 conference. These grants are aimed at scholars whose participation in the annual meeting helps to diversity the organization. Preference will be given to those who have not previously presented at annual meetings. The awards are intended for scholars who represent groups historically under-represented at SHAFR, scholars who offer diverse and complementary intellectual approaches, and scholars from outside the United States. “Scholars” includes faculty, graduate students, and independent researchers. To further integrate grant winners into SHAFR, awards include one-year membership that includes subscriptions to Diplomatic History and Passport.

Applicants should submit a copy of their individual paper proposal along with

  • a short cv (2-page maximum) and
  • a 2-3 paragraph essay addressing the fellowship criteria (including data on previous SHAFR meetings attended and funding received).

Please submit your application through the online application system above after submitting your panel or paper proposal. Funding requests will have no bearing on the committee’s decisions on panels/papers, but funds will not be awarded unless the applicant’s submission is accepted by the program committee in a separate decision. Application deadline: December 1, 2019.


Other Conference Events

The 2020 conference will host SHAFR’s annual Job Search Workshop to help prepare graduate student members for the job market. Students will have the opportunity to receive individualized feedback on their cover letters and CVs from experienced faculty members. The Job Workshop is open to all current graduate students and newly minted Ph.D.’s. Priority will be given to first-time participants.

The program will also continue SHAFR’s Syllabus Workshop, sponsored by the Teaching Committee. Graduate students and new Ph.D.’s will have the opportunity to work with experienced faculty on their syllabi. The Syllabus Workshop is open to all current graduate students and recent Ph.D.’s.

Those interested in participating in either or both workshops can indicate this on the conference registration form, which will be available in Spring 2020.

For more details about the conference please visit the main conference site.

We look forward to seeing you next June in New Orleans!


SHAFR 2020 Program Committee co-chairs,

/s/ Gretchen Heefner (Northeastern University) and Julia Irwin (University of South Florida)