Log in

FREE SOIL? Migration, Dispossession,

and Rising Up On Contested Ground


Kelly Lytle Hernández is a professor of History, African American Studies, and Urban Planning at UCLA where she holds The Thomas E. Lifka Endowed Chair in History and directs the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. One of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration, she is the author of Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (University of California Press, 2010), City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles  (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), and the forthcoming book Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands (Norton, 2022). She also leads Million Dollar Hoods, a big data research initiative documenting the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. For her historical and contemporary work, Professor Lytle Hernández was named a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. She is also an elected member of the Society of American Historians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Pulitzer Prize Board.


Please review the WHA's guidelines, policies, and best practices for organizing and submitting papers and full sessions (preferred) before you submit your work. The paper and panel submission process will open on or before September 15, 2023 through All Academic, the WHA's online submission platform. If you have questions, please contact the 2024 Co-Chairs listed above. You can also contact the WHA office ( The CFP deadline is December 11, 2023, 11:59 P.M. (Pacific). WHA Staff will be available on December 11 until 2:30 P.M. (Pacific) to provide technical support. No one will be available in the office to assist with last minute questions or technical issues after 2:30 P.M. (Pacific).

Through the following page you will also find a link to a 2024 spreadsheet where you can connect with other potential panelists.


If your work is accepted for the conference program, you must pay a registration fee for the conference. The WHA Policy on Conference Participants requires all conference program participants, regardless of professional status, to register for the conference if your work is accepted.



64th Annual Conference Call for Papers

October 24-27, 2024 (Thursday-Sunday)*

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

Kansas City, Missouri

*The 2024 WHA Conference will be held concurrently with the Southern Historical Association Conference. Please note the Thursday-Sunday schedule.

Free Soil? Migration, Dispossession, and Rising Up on Contested Ground

The Western History Association was once an organization dominated by white male scholars who typically wrote triumphalist narratives. We are no longer that organization. We now produce pathbreaking scholarship by and about the members of the many communities previously excluded from traditional tales of expansion. This new work and the people writing it have transformed the WHA, the history of the U.S. West, and the profession more broadly. Our organization is now an institutional home for scholars who bring diverse viewpoints to their work, deepening our understanding of the past and enriching our experience of the present.

Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, the WHA’s 2024 conference offers an opportunity to reconsider the history and historiography of the U.S. West as a long and unfinished story of diverse peoples and their freedom dreams. An Indigenous crossroads of Kaw, Osage, Kickapoo, Missouria, and Dakota homelands, the Kansas/Missouri borderlands have long been a nexus of migration and resurgence as well as of dispossession and rebellion.  Indeed, the 19th century battles over “free soil” here remind us that efforts to secure land and liberty for some have often meant removal, exclusion, and unfreedom for others.

The 2024 WHA Program welcomes panels and papers that consider the many migrations, dispossessions, and uprisings that have shaped the U.S. West. We expect and seek panels addressing the westward tide of expansion in the United States. We also anticipate panels about migrations, dispossessions, and insurgencies that occurred prior to U.S. expansion, elsewhere on the continent, and even around the world. Consider, for example, deep Indigenous histories (and futures) and the long Black freedom struggle as well as the more recent settlement of economic migrants, refugees, and transgender persons living in exile in the region, all of which have made the U.S. West a dynamic site of intersections and relations.  We also hope to consider the bordered but unbound histories of the environment.

Meeting alongside the Southern History Association’s annual conference, we especially encourage panels that address the confluence of migrations, dispossessions, and uprisings across the lands that are now the U.S. South and U.S. West. This conference is a prime opportunity to think across, between, and even beyond traditional conventions of the “West,” with attention to debates over the making and meaning of the U.S. West in both scholarly and popular domains.

Policy: Diversity of Program Participants Statement

1) The Program Committee will actively promote the full and equitable inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities, diverse Indigeneities, religious minorities, people with disabilities, women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with various ranks and career paths 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.

2024 Program Committee Co-Chairs

Genevieve Carpio, University of California, Los Angeles (

Elizabeth Ellis, Princeton University (

Ari Kelman, University of California, Davis (

2024 WHA President

Kelly Lytle Hernández, University of California, Los Angeles


The Western History Association and Southern Historical Association are pleased to announce that in 2024 the two organizations will host their conferences concurrently in Kansas City, Missouri at The Westin and Sheraton Kansas City at Crown Center. 

The WHA and SHA worked diligently on their efforts to hold overlapping events for two of the largest historical organizations focused on regional history in North America. "It has been a decades-long dream to bring together our two great organizations," notes Catherine Clinton, past president of the SHA, "and nothing could be more rewarding to me than to look forward to the SHA and the WHA meeting in 2024 in Kansas City—my home townmeeting in the same town during the same weekend for the first time. We can all look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones and finding ways to enrich and expand our thriving historical communities.” 

Clinton approached Stephen Aron, past president of the WHA, in 2016 with this ambitious idea and the two joined forces with their respective governing boards and executive offices to make the plan a reality. The conferences will share exhibit space and potentially a plenary, as well as provide members of both associations a chance to meet, mingle, and discuss important scholarship that emerges in western and southern history. "These meetings will give us a great opportunity to explore the directions and connections that link these histories and regions to one another," says Aron. "And what better place than Kansas City, on the borders and at the intersection of West and South, for us to break not bread but some of the finest barbeque together."

Keep your eye out for more announcements, each association's Call for Papers, and local arrangements details for the 2024 SHA and WHA conferences, and plan to join us in Kansas City from October 24-27! 


Dr. Stephen Berry, SHA Secretary-Treasurer

Dr. Elaine Nelson, WHA Executive Director




Elizabeth Ellis

Princeton University (Co-Chair)

Ari Kelman

University of California, Davis (Co-Chair)

Genevieve Carpio

University of California, Los Angeles (Co-Chair)

Program Committee Members:

Genevieve Carpio, University of California, Los Angeles
Elizabeth Ellis, Princeton University
Ari Kelman, University of California, Davis
Amanda Cobb-Greetham, University of Oklahoma
Alejandra Dubcovsky, University of California, Riverside
Rudy Guevarra, Arizona State University
Maria Esther Hammack, University of Pennsylvania
Sonia Hernández, Texas A&M University
Adria L. Imada, University of California, Irvine
Mark Johnson, University of Notre Dame
Modupe Labode, National Museum of American History
Celeste Menchaca, University of Southern California

Brianna Tafolla Rivière, University of California, Davis
Camille Suarez, California State University, Los Angeles
Coll Thrush, University of British Columbia
Marques Vestal, University of California, Los Angeles


Sandra Enríquez

University of Missouri-Kansas City (Co-Chair)

Andrew R. Gustafson

Johnson County Museum, Overland Park, Kansas (Co-Chair)

John Herron, Kansas City Public Library

Local Arrangements Committee Members:

Sandra Enríquez, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Andrew Gustafson, Johnson County Museum
John Herron, Kansas City Public Library
Mark Adams, Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
Dina Bennett, American Jazz Museum
Kent Blansett, University of Kansas
Gene Chavez, Kanasas City Museum
Kristen Epps, Kansas State University

Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University

James Leiker, Johnson County Community College
Amahia Mallea, Drake University

Glenn North, Kansas City Museum

Steve Nowak, Watkins Museum of History
Jay Price, Wichita State University
Tim Reidy, Rockhurst High School
Maria Vallejo, Lamar University
Lora Vogt, National World War I Museum and Memorial
Holly Zane, Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area

Western History Association

University of Kansas | History Department

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. | 3650 Wescoe Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045 | 785-864-0860 

The WHA is located in the Department of History at the University of Kansas. The WHA is grateful to KU's History Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their generous support!