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. She teaches history at the University of Pittsburgh and currently serves as the editor-in-chief of The North Star, which was originally founded by Frederick Douglass in 1847.
She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and co-editor of 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 now at work on a new book tentatively entitled “‘East Unites with West’: Black Women, Japan, and Visions of Afro-Asian Solidarity” (under contract, University of Pennsylvania Press).
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 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 also 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. She was recently appointed to the Organization of American Historians’ Distinguished Lectureship Program.
Blain is the current president 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 served as senior editor of its award-winning blog Black Perspectives from 2015 to 2018.
Her research has been featured in several popular outlets, including CSPAN, Smithsonian Magazine, Public Books, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Women in Higher Education and VICE. Her writings have appeared in several academic journals, including the Journal of Social History and Souls; and popular outlets such as the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Salon, The Feminist Wire, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Women’s History, the Journal of Civil and Human Rights, the Journal of African American History, and the Washington Post‘s new history blog, “Made by History.” Along with Quito Swan, she is the editor of the new book series on Black internationalism, published by the University of Illinois Press.