Call for Papers
Accomodations and Directions


Call for Papers


Sexuality and Colonial Black Atlantic Cities
University of Chicago
Thursday and Friday, April 19-20, 2012

Rachel Jean-Baptiste, University of Chicago (
Lorelle Semley, College of the Holy Cross (

Cities were not new to Africa and the Americas when slave trading and imperialism produced a new phenomenon: the colonial city. As urban spaces took form in Africa and the Americas, Africans and people of African descent created an indelible mark on modern urban life as merchants, wage laborers, slaves, slave owners, entertainers, religious figures, and intellectuals. Black historical actors also traversed cities in Europe, shaping empire from multiple sites. Yet, people circulating through the Atlantic world also inhabited cities as gendered and affective beings who actively conceptualized ideas about pleasure, desire, and aesthetics.

This symposium aims to examine the intersections of sexuality, identity, and urban life during the colonial periods in the Atlantic, spanning Africa, the Americas, and Europe, from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. We will consider proposals that de-center the Atlantic by treating similar themes in other parts of the world such as the Mediterranean or Indian Ocean. We plan to publish selected papers as an edited volume or as a special issue of a journal.

Submissions need not be confined to these topics, but, if possible, please indicate up to two themes that correspond to your proposal:

Mapping Cities

  • Intersections of race, gender and geography
  • Rural/urban connections
  • Empire and the politics of knowledge

Reproducing the Body

  • Reproductive health
  • Medicine, healing and disease
  • Law, crime, and citizenship

Laboring Women and Men

  • Work, status, and mobility
  • Prostitution
  • Marketing leisure and popular culture

Sex in the City: Same and Different

  • Same-sex relationships
  • Discourses on danger and/or modernity
  • Policing femininities and masculinities

Families and Networks

  • Marriage and religion
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Defining neighborhoods and housing

Affect and Aesthetics

  • Politics of desire
  • Mass consumption and production
  • Public arts and architecture

Please submit a title, 250-word abstract, and a CV by December 15th, 2012 to If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Jean-Baptiste at or Lorelle Semley at and include “Gender Cities” in the subject line. Authors of accepted proposals will be contacted by January 24th and complete papers will be due on March 1st, 2012.