Special Announcement

We are extremely delighted and proud to share the news that the 2019 special issue of American Quarterly, “Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas,” guest edited by Greta LaFleur and Kyla Schuller, won the 2020 Council of Editors of Learned Journals Award in the Best Special Issue category! The award was announced at the MLA annual meeting on January 9, 2021.

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Current Issue

Our September Special Issue 2022 issue, From Anarchy to Chaos: Generations of Empire (Volume 74, Number 3 of American Quarterly) is now available! Make sure to visit the Beyond the Page section for supplementary content. 

In late spring of 2020, when the Board of Managing Editors began contemplating the theme for the 2022 special issue, the world was desperately trying to cope with COVID-19. Meanwhile, the murder of George Floyd led to the broad mobilization of the BlackLivesMatter movement around the world, not only condemning anti-Black police brutality but calling for an honest look into structural racism past and present. In the midst of it all, we received the devastating news of Amy Kaplan's passing. We felt that the best way for American Quarterly to pay tribute to Kaplan's immense contribution to the field was to do a special issue revisiting the core questions of empire addressed by the body of her work. Kaplan's framing—which has urged us to fundamentally rethink the relationship between the domestic and the foreign and the mutual constitution of race and gender in the making of nation, citizenship, and empire—enables us to tackle both historical and contemporary conditions of the world and America's place in it and address the topics we had earlier considered for the special issue. We are honored to have Christopher Lee and Melani McAlister, whose areas of expertise complement each other while both being closely connected to Kaplan's oeuvre, take on this important work. The guest editors undertook the enormous labor, carefully reviewing a record number of submissions and working with the authors to compile a well-rounded collection of cutting-edge scholarship that reflects the legacies of Kaplan's work and the state of the field. Their introduction, paired with Kaplan's introductory essay to Cultures of United States Imperialism, will be an invaluable overview of the history, historiography, theory, and methods on American empire for scholars and students of American studies for generations to come.

Past Issues

June 2022 issue Volume 74, Number 2

This issue begins with the addresses from two consecutive ASA presidents, Dylan Rodríguez and Cathy Schlund-Vials. Both call for vigilance in the face of multipronged forces that attack, extract, police, and contain communities and movements of resistance while reminding us of the power of knowledge production and creativity, joy, and intimacy. The first two essays address how data impacts Black life. Laura Soderberg examines the meaning of census data in the mid-nineteenth century, while Anne M. Brubaker focuses on Ida B. Wells’s statistical thinking in the context of social quantification and scientific racism. Attending to another Black archive, Sarah Winstein-Hibbs reads James Baldwin’s oeuvre as a theorization of “otherwise charisma.” The next two essays examine technology as a terrain of struggle for minoritized communities. Through her study of two-way radiotelephony, Cheryl Higashida argues that a goal of the civil rights movement was to develop grassroots technopolitical agency. In the essay that follows, Max Larson explores how theorizing the digital divide from below can challenge the digital divisions that structure humanistic inquiry. The final two essays analyze diet, food, race, and industry from two distinct perspectives. Samantha Pergadia offers a history of dairying in children’s literature,while Chin Jou discusses the development of the prison food industrial complex (PFIC) within the U.S. carceral state. 

Stephen Dillon reviews three recent texts that illuminate effects of the materialist visions of the Black Lives Matter movement, black radical tradition, black feminism, and prison abolition on the art world and arenas of thought. Mark Tseng-Putterman reviews four books tracking long-standing liberal, militarized scripts about race and empire in Asia and the Pacific which manage the US-led global order. Finally, under the guidance of two new Event Review editors, Sarah Leavitt and Susette Min, Emily Hue discusses Astral Sea, by the multidisciplinary artist Tsedaye Makonnen, and Kiana T. Murphy reviews the Gloria Naylor: Other Places exhibit at Lehigh University.

March 2022: Volume 74, Number 1

All seven essays in this issue forcefully interrogate the making of racialized and Native subjects and their resistance in different but interrelated contexts of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, carceral state, and neoliberal service economy. Amanda J. G. Napior engages in ambitious and careful critical fabulation to imagine the life of “Deliverance Jason” found in a late eighteenth-century prison register. Frank Kelderman explores the early writings of the Omaha author Susette La Flesche. Peter Raccuglia reads The Red Moon in the context of the spectacular violence of lynchings and race riots in the early twentieth century. Amani C. Morrison analyzes subdivided apartments known as “kitchenettes” that Black migrants to Chicago lived in during the Great Migration era. Black Chicago is also the setting for J. Bret Maney’s essay, which illustrates the intertwining of the aural and the spatial and points to the audible archive of segregation-era expressive culture. Jackson Smith interrogates the complex dynamics among anti-drug activism and the carceral state. Finally, Miriam E. Sweeney and Melissa Villa-Nicholas examine Latina virtual assistants installed at airports along the US southwestern border. In Book Reviews, Jallicia Jolly discusses four new works on the racial, gender, and cultural stories of HIV/AIDS. Steven Osuna reviews four books that expose how counterinsurgency through everyday policing has generated rebellions.

December 2021: Volume 73, Number 4

The essays in this issue all address, in different ways, how borders, places, cities, and life are managed, controlled, and represented by the possessive logics of the state, empire, and capitalism as well as how they are radically imagined and lived otherwise by those who refuse those logics. Alana de Hinojosa examines the Chamizal Dispute that purportedly ended when the 1964 treaty returned el Chamizal to Mexico. Jennifer Ponce de León analyzes Ricardo A. Bracho's dystopian science fiction play Puto. Introducing the neologism of "transmilitainment," Waleed Mahdi examines Morocco's role in the production of Hollywood's "war on terror" films. Chandra Russo examines how art activism can promote popular education. Danielle Haque discusses an alternative imagining of city space and life. Chad Shomura presents a reading of Jennifer Egan's short story "Found Objects." Aria S. Halliday reviews three books that examine how Latina and Black girls make sense of themselves in a society built on their objectification. Hōkūlani Aikau discusses three important works that center Hawai'i as the site of settler colonialism. In a digital project review, Dylan Rodríguez engages Edmund T. Gordon's online exhibit Racial Geography Tour.

September 2021: Volume 73, Number 3

Language—and more specifically, the dominance of English—not only is a critical axis of power, especially in relation to colonialism, immigration, and nationalism, but also is a central yet often taken-for-granted and thus invisible element of knowledge production with very real implications and consequences. We thus encouraged two of the foremost scholars whose work on the issues of language and translation have made important interventions to American studies among other related fields—Mary Louise Pratt and Vicente L. Rafael—to propose and guest edit this September 2021 special issue. We have been extremely excited to work with them throughout the review and editorial process and to witness the range of emerging scholarship that looks at the workings of language—often violent but also ingenious and transgressive—and its intersections with settler colonialism and Indigeneity, race and empire, migration and diaspora. It has been particularly exciting to see the many nuanced ways in which scholars examine the complex practices of translation. We are delighted to see the historical, geographic, and cultural as well as linguistic span of this issue, and we hope that it will launch a new phase of research and dialogue that treats language as one of the critical axes of analysis in understanding America in its many permutations.

June 2021: Volume 73, Number 2

The first three essays in this issue all deal with the scripts, frames, and boundaries prescribed on racialized subjects in different contexts and the ways in which those subjects maneuver and assert their agency. The next two essays look at different forms and uses of media in addressing politics and affect. This issue also features an important forum that examines the triangulated politics of the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan through the historical and contemporary US imaginary. Six book reviews are featured, which deal with psychopower, psychopolitics, criminalization of racialized communities, and racialized, gendered, and neoliberal violence in the ongoing colonization of Latin America.

March 2021: Volume 73, Number 1 

This issue features five essays, a forum on the keyword authenticity, and three reviews. In the forum, convener Jonna Eagle and scholars from diverse disciplinary, cultural, and personal backgrounds explore the practice and stakes of measurement and valuation, affirmation and exclusion involved in characterizing something as (in)authentic. The review section includes book reviews by Jillian Hernandez, who discusses works that deal with aesthetics in relation to racial being, subjection, and autonomy; and Vineeta Singh, who examines recent texts in critical university studies that question our understanding of what, how, and why we study in the academy. Finally, in a digital project review, Lindsay Garcia introduces us to Equality Archive, a digital encyclopedia of feminist knowledge that was built deploying feminist principles through the platform’s infrastructure, the collective arrangement of labor, the curation of topics, and the figuring of praxis as central to knowledge.

December 2020: Volume 72, Number 4

This issue includes five essays that address globalism and American expansionism, Black social movement and the arts, logistics of empire, and technologies of settler colonialism. These works are followed by an extensive review section that engages a range of topics and issues. Three event reviews discuss the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration and its companion site, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama; the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, in Dorchester County, Maryland; and two sets of art and performance at Velocity Dance Center and the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington. In Digital Projects Review, Hannah Ackermans examines CriticalCodeStudies.com, a companion website to Mark C. Marino’s book Critical Code Studies (2020). Finally, three book reviews cover diverse scholarship on various themes, including the implications of subject participation in advocacy projects; the relationship between racial capitalism, colonial domination, and the violence of abstraction; and the role of militarized technologies in shaping modes of seeing and being. 

2020 Special Issue: "Energy Pasts and Futures in American Studies"

This special issue goes to press in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Confronted with a global health, social, and economic crisis unprecedented in our lifetime, we are made painfully aware of the tight interconnections of the Anthropocene and reminded of the need to always consider nature, medicine, data, and economics in conjunction with history, politics, affect, and ethics. While we never imagined that we would be living in such a scenario when we began working on this special issue, it has turned to be eerily apropos for our time.

 The three guest editors—Natasha Zaretsky, Michael Ziser, and Julie Sze—have compiled this brilliant and forceful collection on energy. Their introduction, “Perpetual Motion: Energy and American Studies”, outlines the trajectories of the sciences and humanities that animate energy studies, its intersections with American studies, and the stakes of such inquiries. The eleven essays featured in the issue make bold interventions in our understanding of energy in dialogue with scholarship in such areas as settler colonialism, indigenous studies, labor and racial capitalism, nationalism and security state, petroculture, media studies, and gender studies. 

 June 2020, Volume 72, Issue 2

This issue includes Scott Kurashige’s presidential address, “‘Unruly Subjects’: American Studies from Antidiscipline to Revolutionary Praxis,” which traces the emergence of the ASA as home for those from outside the institutional history of the field, points to the crisis of liberal capitalism and ruptures it has created, and illustrates examples of scholar–activist work seeking to build the revolution toward a new social order, such as the work of Detroit-based Grace Lee Boggs. We have asked two such scholar–activists to respond to Kurashige’s address: Curtis Marez and Noura Erakat. 

This issue also features six essays that coalesce and speak well with one another around several themes: species, environment, and settler colonialism; racialization and othering in nation and empire building; race, solidarity, and anti-imperialism. 

Finally, in the review section, Julie Sze discusses recent works on race, animality, and animal studies, while Chloe Hunt examines books on speculative approaches to time and space in Black critical theory. 

March 2020, Volume 72, Issue 1

The first three essays in this issue examine the complex workings of history, memory, storytelling, and literary arts in the context of slavery and settler colonialism, and ask the questions: Who owns and controls narratives? Whose voice do we hear and read? The next three essays explore modernity, race, and the city through sonic, visual, and spatial modes of meaning making. In a digital project review, Melissa Dollman discusses a digital companion to the biography Becoming Richard Pryor. In event reviews, Harrod Suarez examines the exhibit Ohio Artists for Freedoms, Karín Aguilar-San Juan assesses the Minneapolis-based exhibit Prince from Minneapolis, and Ngahiraka Mason reviews the 2019 Honolulu Biennial. The three book reviews discuss new works in disability studies, history of black women, and social and cultural study of robots, respectively.

 December 2019, Volume 71, Issue 4

Empire, war, and colonialism; race, gender, and class; discourse, performance, and subjectivity: these are the issues that the four essays featured here examine through diverse approaches and foci. The forum, “Protesting, Refusing, and Rethinking Borders: A Transnational Perspective,” convened by Sunaina Maira, showcase six essays by scholars and activists engaged in a transnational discussion about border violence and border protests in different locations of the globe. In the Event Review, Wendy Cheng and Juan De Lara discuss Desert X, a contemporary art exhibition in the California desert, to critique its failure to challenge the logics of white supremacy, racism, and capitalism. Finally, we have three book reviews: Keith Feldman discusses five recent books on anti-Muslim racism, Axel González reviews four works from the fast-growing field of racial capitalism, and three works on Christian missions in diverse contexts are discussed by Hillary Kaell.

  September 2019, Volume 71, Issue 3

This Special Issue of American Quarterly focuses on life within slavery, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism in the region of what is now North America. It critically engages the history of the biopolitical in the period before 1900 and reframes early American studies toward a new appreciation of the history of tactics of governance in this region.

We are proud to announce that American Quarterly September 2015 special issue, “Pacific Currents,” guest edited by Paul Lyons and Ty 

Kāwika Tengan, is the winner of the 2016 Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best Special Issue. Thank you to Paul and Ty for their vision and leadership and to all the contributors to the special issue!

The September 2012 issue of American Quarterly (Volume 64, Issue 3) was recognized as the co-winner of Best Special Issue by The Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ).

The journal has updated its Author Guidelines to introduce an online submission system.

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