The 55th Annual Conference of the Mormon History Association will be held June 4-7, 2020, in Rochester/Palmyra, New York. The 2020 conference theme, “Visions, Restoration, and Movements” commemorates the 200th anniversary of Mormonism’s birth in upstate New York. Joseph Smith’s religious movement has grown from a fledgling frontier faith to a diverse set of religious and cultural traditions functioning across the globe. Members of Mormonism’s many branches are found among people of different colors, languages, and nationalities. Consequently, Mormonism shapes and has shaped the lives of millions of adherents and their neighbors from its founding to the present.
People from all of Mormonism’s branches have proven visionary in building their congregations across the globe, in humanitarian efforts to relieve suffering and rebuild communities, in political activism, caring for the environment, and other actions which sometimes push back against accepted traditions, policies and structures. Transformational activism was a key feature of Mormonism from the beginning, born as it was in a landscape of peoples and movements who changed the world around them– constructing the Erie Canal, “burning” with religious fervor in the Second Great Awakening, nurturing abolitionists and the fight for Black liberation, and producing the struggle for women’s rights and suffrage.
Meeting in this historic area, scholars, independent historians and history enthusiasts will discuss, debate, and further conversations aimed at writing more inclusive Mormon histories. These new histories will have no preferred peoples, will recognize Mormonism’s multiple practices, and bring to light visionaries who have long been forgotten or omitted in historical narratives. The Rochester/Palmyra conference will be an opportunity to walk where Joseph Smith, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and other such luminaries walked, a place to be reminded of the visions, visionaries, and movements that came out of western New York in the 19th century.
The Rochester/Palmyra conference provides scholars the occasion to reassess iconic moments in Restoration history with the lenses of time and new research, as well as to explore how Mormonism has navigated the integration of new peoples and spaces while maintaining its traditions and its American foundations; a balancing act not always accomplished successfully or smoothly. This process of “restoration” has been the effort of many women and men who envisioned an expansive Mormonism that at times looks beyond institutional authorities or goals.
We welcome proposals on these themes from academic, professional, and independent historians. Though the program committee will consider individual papers, it will give preference to proposals for complete sessions, whose participants reflect MHA’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. For instance, panels with presenters comprising a single institution or having only one gender or race or addressing a marginalized group without featuring a scholar from that group, will be less likely to be accepted than those who successfully reflect MHA’s diverse membership. MHA’ s program committee can provide advice and assistance in helping panels achieve this goal.[i]
Please send 1) a 300-word abstract for each paper or presentation and 2) a one-page CV for each presenter, including email contact information. Full session proposals should include the session title and a 150-word abstract outlining the session’s theme, along with a confirmed chair and/or commentator, if applicable. Previously published papers are not eligible for presentation at MHA. Limited financial assistance for travel and lodging at the conference is available to volunteers, and to some student and international presenters. Those who wish to apply for this funding may do so upon acceptance of their proposed presentation.
The deadline for proposals is November 1, 2019. Send proposals to program co-chairs Joseph Stuart and Anne Berryhill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Acknowledgment of receipt will be sent immediately. Notification of acceptance/rejection will be made by January 15, 2020.