Dr. Keisha N. Blain is a historian of the 20th c. United States with broad interdisciplinary interests and specializations in African American History, the modern African Diaspora, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research interests include black internationalism, radical politics, and global feminisms.
Blain is currently a Visiting Research Scholar in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Iowa (on research leave). In August 2017, she will join the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh.
Blain’s first book, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom, will be published in the University of Pennsylvania Press’s “Politics and Culture in Modern America” book series in 2018. Drawing on an array of previously untapped primary sources, including archival materials, government records, and unpublished songs and poetry, the book uncovers the crucial role women played in building black nationalist and internationalist protest movements in the United States and other parts of the African Diaspora during the twentieth century.
She is one of the co-developers of #Charlestonsyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the racially motivated shooting that took place in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015. The #Charlestonsyllabus has drawn international attention from various news outlets including PBS, BBC, NPR, Slate, the LA Times, and the New York Times. Along with Chad Williams and Kidada Williams, Blain is the co-editor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2016).
Blain is the recipient of various awards including the 2014 Huggins-Quarles Award from the Organization of American Historians and the 2016 William Appleman Williams Junior Faculty Research Award from the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). Her doctoral dissertation received honorable mention for the 2015 Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians. She has been awarded several prestigious fellowships including a postdoctoral research leave fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and a Ford Foundation postdoctoral research fellowship.
Blain is one of the leaders of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), a scholarly organization founded in 2014 to foster dialogue about researching, writing, and teaching black thought and culture. She is the senior editor of Black Perspectives, a popular academic blog published by AAIHS.
Her research has been featured on CSPAN. She has also written for several academic journals such as the Journal of Social History and Souls; and popular outlets such as the Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and Timeline. She is a section editor for Public Books, where she features important new books on global black history. Most recently, she joined the editorial board of the award-winning Journal of Women’s History, the first journal devoted exclusively to the international field of women’s history.