Dr. Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning 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. She is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh and President of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). She is a 2019-2020 W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University.
She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), which won the 2018 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize and the 2019 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians. The book was also a finalist for the 2018 Hooks National Book Award; and selected as one of the best history books of 2018 by Smithsonian Magazine.
Blain is the co-editor of three books: Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2016); New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition (Northwestern University Press, 2018); and To Turn the Whole World Over: Black Women and Internationalism (University of Illinois Press, 2019).
She is currently at work on two new book projects. The first, East Unites with West: Black Women, Japan, and Visions of Afro-Asian Solidarity, is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press. The book centers on the ideas and activism of a diverse group of black women during the early to mid-twentieth century who worked to build collaborations with Japanese activists in the struggle for civil and human rights. The second, Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Vision of America, is under contract with Beacon Press. The book is an exploration of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer’s ideas and political philosophies.
Blain is the recipient of more than a dozen fellowships, awards, and prizes. These include a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a Postdoctoral Leave Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). In 2018, she was appointed to the Distinguished Lectureship Program of the Organization of American Historians.
Blain 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 Nathan Connolly, Blain is the co-author of Trump Syllabus 2.0, a mock syllabus and public reading list that explores the deep historical and political roots of Donald Trump’s political success during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The syllabus has been featured in several national publications including New York Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and VIBE magazine.
Blain was the senior editor of Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), from 2015 to 2019. Along with Quito Swan, she is the editor of the new book series on Black internationalism, published by the University of Illinois Press. Most recently, she joined the editorial team of the University of Pennsylvania Press’s prestigious book series ‘Politics and Culture in Modern America,‘ working alongside Tom Sugrue, Margot Canaday, Matthew Lassiter, and Stephen Pitti.