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.
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’s beautifully written “Deliverance in Three Acts” engages in ambitious and careful critical fabulation to imagine the life of “Deliverance Jason” found in a late eighteenth-century prison register of the Berkshire County Gaol. In “Writing Omaha Children: Susette La Flesche and the Politics of American Indian Guardianship,” Frank Kelderman explores the early writings of the Omaha author Susette La Flesche, who refused the stereotype of Native children as beneficiaries of white paternalism.
The 1908 theatrical production The Red Moon is the subject of Peter Raccuglia’s “An American Musical in Red and Black,” which reads the work in the context of the spectacular violence of lynchings and race riots in the early twentieth century. In “Quotidian Expenses: Residential Repertoires and Domestic Pedagogies in Great Migration Chicago’s Kitchenettes,” 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 “‘The Special Beat of Chicago’: Desegregation, Antiblack Noise, and the Sound of Resistance in Frank London Brown’s Trumbull Park,” which illustrates the intertwining of the aural and the spatial and points to the audible archive of segregation-era expressive culture.
In “War in the Neighborhood: Anti-Drug Organizing, ‘Crack Houses,’ and Municipal Austerity in Philadelphia,” Jackson Smith interrogates the complex dynamics among anti-drug activism and the carceral state. Finally, “Digitizing the ‘Ideal’ Latina Information Worker,” by Miriam E. Sweeney and Melissa Villa-Nicholas, examines Latina virtual assistants installed at airports along the US southwestern border in the contexts of Latinx labor history and information technology.
In Book Reviews, Jallicia Jolly discusses four new works on the racial, gender, and cultural stories of HIV/AIDS and examines the complex agency of alternative political protagonists in HIV/AIDS activism. Steven Osuna reviews four books that expose how counterinsurgency through everyday policing has generated rebellions as well as the reactionary response by capital to contain them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This special issue of American Quarterly seeks to mark the emergence of a robust conversation about biopolitics in the Americas before 1900, although the contributions that appear in what follows focus primarily on what is now North America. Focusing on life within slavery, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism, 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.
The seven essays in this issue are particularly rich in the originality and rigor of each work as well as in the diverse ways in which they engage the interrelated issues of racialization, state power, surveillance and policing, citizenship and identities.
Therese Quinn and Erica Meiners have convened an important and timely forum, “Defiant Memory Work,” which draws on Chicago’s rich history in using cultural forms to foster liberation and engages myriad projects in other sites where artists and activists, particularly from marginalized groups, have used culture to resist erasure and dispossession.
Roderick Ferguson's presidential address takes us to the site of a heterogeneous, mixed population of Native and black people whose relationships to each other and to the land were apprehended by the logics of settler colonialism and racial capitalism. Jodi A. Byrd responds to Ferguson’s address and pushes us to think further about the agency of southeastern American Indian women in the transformation of Indigenous traditions and relationships. Shona N. Jackson turns to the Anglophone Caribbean, where settler colonial logics of land and labor became the basis for Creole Indigeneity and antiblackness.
The five essays in this issue exemplify the types of transnational interdisciplinary scholarship in which our editorial board is particularly invested. Conceptually ambitious, methodologically innovative, and analytically original, these essays represent the state of the field, and they are also impressive in their thematic, chronological, and geographic spread and their relevance to contemporary politics both domestic and global.
The forum, “Centering Pleasure and Anti-Respectability in Black Studies,” convened by Christina Carney, pulls together an exciting array of essays that address sexuality and pleasure, topics that have been difficult to tackle in black studies.
The three book reviews, by Gabriella Friedman, Karen Buenavista Hanna and Mark John Sanchez, and Esmat Elhalaby, discuss new works on speculation, cultures of empire and international solidarity, and the role of area studies in the United States and the world.
In Event Reviews, A. B. Wilkinson discusses the exhibit on Sally Hemings at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and Dorinne Kondo reviews David Henry Hwang’s groundbreaking new musical, Soft Power.
Digital Project Reviews features three works: Donna Arkee discusses the Hackers of Resistance, Carly A. Kocurek reviews Baltimore ’68: Riots and Rebirth, and Jim McGrath discusses the digital project Newest Americans.
The first three essays in this issue address interconnected themes of settler colonialism, race, migration, and capitalism, with particular attention to place, space, and the environment. We are also excited to present a forum, “On Sylvia Wynter and the Urgency of Humanist Revolution in the Twenty-First Century,” which reflects on the significance of Wynter’s critical thought to American studies, academe, and the world at large.
Our first Book Review looks at four texts on race, sex, and science, our second Book Review discusses works on reproductive justice and gestational surrogacy, and our third Book Review explores the world of zombies and its metaphors through three recent works on the topic. The Event Review features two sets of exhibits that were part of the Pacific Standard Time project held in the Los Angeles region in the fall of 2017. Finally, the two Digital Project Reviews feature a project on mapping Indigenous Los Angeles and one on black history in Tennessee.
This special issue explores digital humanities as a designation, as an associated constellation of technologies and practices, and as a site of convergence for inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary scholarship. Rather than defining and policing the boundaries of American studies and digital humanities, which thrive precisely because they are complex and not easily disciplined, this special issue is more interested in what it means to bring these fields, methodologies, and communities together toward a critically engaged digital practice.
The special issue is divided into four sections: articles, digital projects, forums, and a review essay.
The first set of articles offer alternative and transformative approaches to digital humanities, while the second cluster of articles examines digital engagements with race, ethnicity, and disability. The third and final set of articles focus on materiality, the virtual, and metadata.
The second section of the special issue features overviews of eight online digital projects. The third section of the special issue features several forums on the topics of Methods, Institutions, and Forms of Knowledge & Practice. Finally, the fourth section is a review by Jason Heppler of "Renewing Inequality: Family Displacements through Urban Renewal" and "Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America."
The first two essays in this issue examine responses and critiques to colonialism in very different historical, political, and cultural contexts. The next two essays both deal with cultural politics in the age of rock ’n’ roll. The four book reviews introduce exciting new writings in various areas, from transimperial geographies across the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and the Americas to the history of American food to critical prison studies and poetics, aesthetics, criticism, and experimental writing.
The forum calls our attention to both the utility and the limits of the settler colonial framework in the Latin American context as well as to the issues of land/labor, settler/native, Latinx/Latin American binaries in theorizing coloniality. Three essays in this issue deal with a range of topics on narratives and representations, while three reviews cover diverse scholarship on various historical periods and themes. The two Event Reviews both discuss recent exhibitions dealing with social change held on opposite sides of the continent. We are excited by the provocative questions raised by the forum and the theoretical and empirical materials that each contributor brings to American studies at large.
September 2017 - Special Issue
Edited by Chih-ming Wang and Yu-Fang Cho
This special issue presents a wide range of critical scholarship that considers the importance of the “Chinese factor” in the global imaginaries of American studies. It extends American studies to concerns with distant frontiers and borderlands in Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific, and with the undercurrents of competition and collusion between empires, past and present. Whereas the forums provide a rich set of conversations on topics ranging from transwar and transpacific history and politics, to the imagination of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the roles of the Chinese students and China in US-China contention, the articles articulate a diverse array of methodologies and practices for reorienting American studies to the rise of China as both an opportunity and threat, informed by the complex and intersected history of imperialism, Orientalism, and neoliberalism. The film review puts a nice touch on the special issue by introducing the genre of “going abroad” films that challenge the “America in Chinese hearts.”
Each piece in this issue of American Quarterly has disparate origins and routes. Although we were keenly aware of the importance of each essay from the beginning, as we move into the production phase just a week after Donald Trump’s inauguration, every essay has become far more relevant to the world we live in than we had imagined at the outset. Although these varied works came to be placed in this particular issue more by circumstance than advance planning, together these works—that address gay activism, Indigenous dispossession, racial capitalism, settler colonialism, carceral ableism, immigration, and deportation—point us to many of the critical battles that lie ahead and offer many important tools in fighting them.
This issue of American Quarterly goes into production in the wake of the 2016 election. The values, policies, and behavior represented by Trump, his supporters, and those he is choosing as his staff are deeply in opposition to the fundamental principles of the ASA community. The election results challenge us to seriously reflect on what it means to do American studies and renew our commitments as scholars, teachers, and activists in this world. Many of the essays included here address themes that are critical to these issues.
This issue goes to press in the wake of the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, followed by the shooting of police officers during the peaceful protest led by Black Lives Matter in Dallas, Texas. The shocking events remind us of the continued need for grounded understanding of the structures of racism, violence, and state power and clear visions for action and dialogue. Many of the essays included here address themes that are critical to these issues.
This special issue presents a rich array of scholarship that covers a wide spectrum of historical, geographical, and cultural contexts, ranging from World War II Italy and postwar Hiroshima to contemporary Hawai‘i, the Caribbean, and occupied Palestine. The works are also wonderfully diverse in their sources and methodologies, including historical archives, ethnography, and media studies. The forum traces the formations and developments of critical scholarship on tourism and militarism by putting together the essays by pioneers in the field with those by emerging scholars carrying their torches in new directions. The review essays discuss recent books that address some of the key questions of the special issue in different historical and political contexts.
In Vol. 68 No. 2, Gordon Fraser examines the “emancipatory cosmology” produced in Freedom’s Journal and The Rights of All, the first newspapers in the United States to be edited and published by African Americans. Bridget R. Cooks and Graham Eng-Wilmot analyze what they call “the break” performed by musical works written for the centennial year of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The forum on teaching American studies convened by Julie Sze addresses the pedagogical project in a wide variety of ideological, political, and economic contexts both in the United States and abroad. The forum also showcases the range of community engagement projects that have been enhanced by the ASA Community Partnership Grants.
In the Digital Projects Review, Scott L. Matthews discusses the vast materials collected by folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax that have been made digitally available. Jillian Russo reviews the digital archive of New Deal photographs created by the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information.
Among the important Book Reviews included in the issue is Paul Mokrzycki Renfro’s review of books on the transnational politics of childhood.
Vol. 68 No. 1 features essays dealing with a range of topics and using a variety of methodologies and sources. Extending the inquiries on the question of Palestine for American Studies we explored in the forum in the December 2015 issue, Alex Lubin’s essay traces the historical and political context in which the field has developed in the Middle East. Rachel Lindsey analyzes the reimagining of Jesus, the medium of photography, and the preoccupation with physical perfection as white masculine ideal at the turn of the twentieth century. Gabriel Rosenberg traces the history of hog breeding as part of the biopolitical apparatus and racial knowledge. Eithne Quinn examines the roles of New York’s hip hop moguls in the Occupy movement to complicate the critiques of race in the consolidation of neoliberalism. Bryan Santin, Daniel Murphy, and Matthew Wilkens use quantitative analysis and “distant reading” to address the relationship between print culture, literary sensibilities, and national consciousness in the nineteenth century.
This issue also inaugurates the Digital Projects Review co-edited by Scott Nesbitt and Stephen Berry. The journal aims to develop rigorous vocabulary, methods, and standards for digital projects in knowledge production, particularly as they pertain to American Studies.
Introduction: Shifting Geographies of Knowledge and Power: Palestine and American Studies
Forum edited by Rabab Abdulhadi and Dana M. Olwan
In our forum we argued against exceptionalizing or divorcing the 2013 ASA vote on Palestine from the histories of solidarities and support for Palestine that extend beyond and predate the U.S. academy. Indeed, in co-organizing and co-editing this AQ Forum on Palestine, we sought to bring to our scholarship and pedagogy in sync with the lived experiences of the communities we study, research, and around whose lives we build our academic careers.
Edited by Paul Lyons and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan
Notions about the “Pacific” region have become increasingly charged as an epistemic marker for shifts in geopolitical power (from Atlantic to Pacific), generating both conceptual realignments and lines of critical opposition. However, as Pacific Islands Studies scholars have long insisted—without necessarily being approached as partners on matters “Pacific”—the emerging oppositional versions of “Asia-Pacific” and the “Transpacific” often sublate Pacific Island and Islander priorities within models that originate outside of the Islands. In counter-posing Oceanic understandings of Pacific currents with au courant views of “the region,” starting in our Introduction with resonances of the Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) word for current, “au,” this Special Issue aims to further conversation among Native Pacific Studies, American Studies, and decolonial critique.
Forum edited by Cynthia Young and Min Hyoung Song
In our forum, we asked several scholars representing a wide range of interests to reflect on changes to the way whiteness is inhabited and practiced in the US during the Obama years. Since we're getting close to the final years of his two-term presidency, it seemed a fitting time for us to convene such a discussion about the ways in which the mainstream US thinking about race had recently been articulated, and is now being rearticulated.
Las Américas has often been a site of critical inquiry within American Studies, but as the 2013 ASA meeting in Puerto Rico enunciated, a hemispheric approach has become even more central to interdisciplinary study in the field. Volume 66, Issue 3 (September 2014) emphasizes the historical and productive tensions between Latin America and the US and the experiential diversities of Latinxs. As the editors refer to in the introduction, the issue includes essays on colonial histories, sexual cultures, social movements, and aesthetic practices. “Las Américas” is understood in this issue, then, as a reorganization of nation-state based scholarship through affinities, projects, memories, archives and acts that have hemispheric meaning.
In American Quarterly Volume 66, Issue 1 (March 2014), Ernesto Chávez assembled a forum on “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: A Forum on the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. (Un)Equal Rights.” The page includes interactive features provided by several of the forum authors that draw from and elaborate upon the points made in their articles. Explore the supplementary content from this issue.
In American Quarterly Volume 65, Issue 3 (September 2013), a special issue on Species/Race/Sex, we bring together scholars from various fields and at different stages in their careers to address the species/race/sex nexus from a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary angles and ideological positions. Explore the supplementary content from this issue.
In American Quarterly volume 65, issue 1 (March 2013), Matt Delmont assembled a forum on “Visual Culture and the War on Terror.” Assembled below are interactive features provided by several of the forum authors that draw from and elaborate upon the points made in their articles. Explore the supplementary content from this issue.
Issue 64.4 included a forum organized by Naomi Greyser and Margot Weiss on “Academia and Activism,” featuring short pieces on activism and protest within institutions of higher education, as well as interviews with scholars and activists. Explore the supplementary content from this issue.
The September 2012 special issue interjects into the discourse and conditions of an ongoing global economic and racial crisis. Explore the supplementary content from several articles in the issue.
The September 2011 special issue featured a wide range of scholarly thinking on sound—from nineteenth century noise ordinances to the abstract beauty of sound to the relation of Johnny Cash to Native American soundscape—and signal to the readers of AQ of the critical role of sound in the broad field of American studies. This page includes supplementary content from several articles.
Michael Bérubé on 'the Crisis in Academe'
Enduring Freedom: Public Diplomacy and US Foreign Policy - A Critique
Giles Scott-Smith, Senior Researcher from the Roosevelt Study Center, The Netherlands, provided a critique of the article "Enduring Freedom: Public Diplomacy and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Liam Kennedy and Scott Lucas. The article appeared in Volume 57, Number 2 (June 2005).