WHA 2021 Conference: Portland

Mark your calendars for the 61st Annual WHA Conference, which is scheduled for October 27-30, 2021, in Portland, Oregon at the Hilton Portland. Bookmark this page to check for updates on conference details, the 2021 Call for Papers, and to learn more about presenting your work in Portland!

2021 President: Maria E. Montoya

Maria E. Montoya is the Dean of Arts and Sciences at NYU Shanghai and an Associate Professor of History at NYU New York. She teaches History of the American West, the U.S. History survey, Labor History in the United States, and the History of Water. Maria was born in Albuquerque, NM and grew up in Arvada, CO, a suburb of Denver. She earned her BA, MA and PhD degrees at Yale University, and in between spent a couple of years at the University of New Mexico working on a master’s degree. Prior to teaching at NYU, Maria taught for twelve years at the University of Michigan, where she was the Director of the Latina/o Studies Program, and at the University of Colorado.

She has authored articles on the History of the American West, Environmental, Labor and Latina/o history and of the book, Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840-1900.  She is the lead author on the U.S. History textbook, Global Americans: A Social and Global History of the United States (Cengage, 2018). She is finishing up a manuscript, Rockefeller and Roache: Progressives Managing Workers, 1900-1940, which focuses on John D. Rockefeller and Josephine Roche, and their roles in defining the spheres of work and home life during the early twentieth century. She is also working on two other manuscripts: A Chicana in China, which is a memoir inspired by an earlier work of Rudolfo Anaya, and a book project about the scarcity of water in the American Southwest, and the Rio Grande in particular. She is currently the PI for Zaanheh: A Natural History of Shanghai, an interdisciplinary team based research project at NYU Shanghai, which works in collaboration with Eric Sanderson’s Mannahatta Project.

Maria attended her first WHA meeting in 1988 in Wichita, KS and has rarely missed a meeting since then. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the John and Laree Caughey Foundation. Her service to the WHA includes: Chair of the Membership Committee, the Board of Editors of the Western Historical Quarterly, the Steering Committee for the Coalition of Western Women’s History (CWWH), Chair of the first Jensen Miller Prize, member of the Hal Rothman Prize, and the WHA Council.  She was also one of the founding members of the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW). Maria writes: “From the first moment I stepped into Howard Lamar’s class as an undergraduate and found out that I could spend my time learning about the place I came from, I was hooked on the History of the American West. Since then, my intellectual journey and my relationship with this organization has led me on a most rewarding career of writing, teaching, and speaking about the place I call home, the American West. This organization has fostered a deep relationship with scholars and life-long friends who share the same passion. I am deeply honored to be chosen as the President-elect of the WHA and I look forward to serving the organization with pride, dedication, and passion for an organization that has been my intellectual home for decades.”

2021 Call for Papers

“To the West and Beyond: The Local and the Global in Western History”

61st Annual WHA Conference

October 27-30, 2021

Portland, Oregon


The American West and its people have never existed in isolation, nor has it or they ever been exceptional. Rather the West has always been interconnected with other regions of the world through migration, trade, intermarriage, and technology. Consequently, as a region, it has reflected the myriad of conflicting beliefs and traditions of those who have called this place home while living among an array of diverse neighbors.


The 2021 WHA Program welcomes sessions and individual proposals that examine the interconnectedness of peoples and places in the American West. We are particularly interested in hosting panels that break out of the traditional paper-reading format. Portland is an ideal host city in which to explore these themes of globalization, connections, and local reactions to these broader influences. In the 1840s, American, British, and French traders encountered the Upper Chinook, Multnomah, and Cascade peoples along the banks of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The resulting clash and changes brought to the region are only a microcosm of what has played out in the West over the last half a millennium. Today, Portland is a gateway that connects the economies and societies of the Pacific Rim from the United States to Mexico to the Philippines to China and India. Like the West writ large, Portland is a crossroads of people, ideas, goods, and technologies.


Portland is a city of confluence and convergence that seeks global significance. Yet, with a remarkably homogeneous population well into the twenty first century (many would say by design), its recent and carefully curated reputation for tolerance is under challenge. Social movements that demand local and global focus on climate change, globalization, and immigration clash in the city’s streets of Antifa and the Proud Boys highlight the unsettled nature of American identity and conquest itself. Moreover, Oregon has been the background for many of the tensions in recent American history--environmental protection and the northern spotted owl, Rajneeshpuram and religious pluralism, LGBTQ+ rights movements and those who oppose them, and the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by far-right activists in 2016. As such, we encourage sessions that explore the history and entanglement of the indigenous peoples, settlers, and interlocutors in the North American West.


The 2021 Program Committee is Co-Chaired by Erika Bsumek (University of Texas, Austin), Erik Loomis (University of Rhode Island), and Michael Witgen (University of Michigan.)


To submit a full session or individual paper, please visit the WHA 2021 Conference website and follow the directions and guide for electronic submissions (www.westernhistory.org/2021). The deadline is December 5, 2020. If you have questions please contact the 2020 Program Co-Chairs (see below) or the WHA Office (wha@westernhistory.org).


Diversity of Session Participants:

In 2018 the WHA Council adopted the following policy to ensure the WHA conference programs reflect the diverse representation of the association and field:

 

1) The Program Committee will actively promote the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ people on the Annual Meeting program. 2) Although not all sessions can reflect the entire diversity of the profession, the Program Committee will encourage proposers of sessions to include diverse sets of participants, addressing gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, religious diversity, disability-based diversity, and/or LGBTQ diversity. 3) The Program Committee will encourage session proposers to consider the benefits of including on their panels historians in various career paths and of various ranks (i.e., senior scholars, public historians, graduate students, independent historians, etc.) within their organizations/institutions.

Submit A Session for 2021!

The paper and panel submission process will open on September 1, 2020. All submissions are due December 5, 2020. 

Please check this page for updates on the session submission process. In the meantime, you should create a profile on the WHA online abstract platform, which is required before submitting your work.

Travel scholarship and prizes for students and public historians are awarded annually by the WHA. Please visit the WHA awards for more information.

2021 Program Committee Co-Chairs:


Erika M. Bsumek

University of Texas at Austin





Erik Loomis

University of Rhode Island



Michael Witgen

University of Michigan



2021 Program Committee

Coming Soon!

2021 Local Arrangements Committee Co-Chairs


Katy Barber
Portland State University


Steven Fountain
Washington State University



Western History Association

UNO History Department

6001 Dodge Street

Omaha, NE 68182   (402) 554-5999

wha@westernhistory.org 



The WHA is hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and benefits from the generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences and UNO Department of History. The Western History Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.