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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Sports is America’s most “popular” culture, with an enormous commercial investment. The hopelessly capitalist sports culture, accompanied by the objectification, regulation, surveillance, and valuation of the body witnessed in no other field, shapes the discourse and experience of the racialized, gendered, sexualized bodies for all involved. Sports is and has been a powerful instrument of nation building, colonialism, occupation, and empire as well as of assertion of sovereignty, autonomy, and pleasure.
And yet, as the editors of this special issue, Joseph Darda and Amira Rose Davis incisively point out in their introduction, there is an “absence of sports from the study of American empire.” Darda and Davis bring these conversations together to showcase what “the body issue” means today and what is at stake. The editors’ framing of the issue and the contributors’ inquiries move beyond existing scholarship, not only in terms of the specific sports studied, but also in methodological tools and approaches at the forefront of American studies, e.g., Black studies, critical refugee studies, digital media studies, disability studies, queer and trans studies, and surveillance studies. The essays embody the beauty and vigor of the sports culture they critically examine. Together, they illustrate that, in the guest editors’ words, “Sports are fundamental to how we know our bodies and, therefore, ourselves and the world through which we move.”
This issue opens with Shana L. Redmond’s presidential address delivered at the 2022 ASA annual meeting. Redmond’s powerful address, “The Dark Prelude,” amplifies and converses with the sonic everyday of Black living. Kimberly Juanita Brown and Erica Edwards respond to and join Redmond’s chorus, attending to Black study’s capacity to upend temporality and create ways to hear and feel collaboratively. This issue’s forum “Abolitionist Worldmaking” addresses Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s 2022 collection of essays, Abolition Geography. Alyosha Goldstein situates Gilmore’s contributions in the history of the prison abolition movement, while contributors reflect on the significance of the collection.
The first two essays by Nadia Chana and co-authors Gregory Hitch and Marcus Grignon both examine settler cosmology, knowledge, and relationship to Indigenous lands and the environment. In following pair of essays, Sharron Conrad and Najwa Mayer bring contrasting approaches to the racial meanings of iconography. Finally, her essay, Naomi Greyser reframes writer’s block as a symptom of nationalist investment in academic writing. In reviews, Kristin Moriah discusses three books on Black musicians’ interactions with sonic archives, and Leanne P. Day reads four books delineating the genealogy of US empire and settler colonialism in the Pacific, while Kelema Lee Moses reviews Sean Connelly’s solo exhibition Learning from Lēʻahi.
This issue inaugurates the seventy-fifth year of American Quarterly. In the past three-quarters of a century, the field of American studies has been a site of vibrant exchange of ideas and gone through dynamic changes in terms of the agents of knowledge production and objects of study, the approaches to archives and tools of analysis, and the framing of questions and articulations of arguments. The six essays in this issue perfectly exemplify the kinds of scholarship enabled by both the accumulation of knowledge through the generations and the bold challenges to, and departures from, existing modes of analysis. The six essays all interrogate, in various contexts and through diverse approaches, the politics and expressions of the nation, state, capital, rights, body, and life.
The first twos essay in the December issue center on the year 1811 to explore contested meaning-makings about land, time, colonialism, race, freedom, and self-determination. The following three essays analyze literature, performance, and photographs to examine the role of poetic, aesthetic, and affective modes of racialization and anticolonial resistance. The issue’s final two essays approach contemporary colonialism in the Pacific through analyses of the contestations of commemorative practices and nuclear colonialism. We are delighted to feature a forum of essays in tribute to the legendary Chicana advocate and journalist Elizabeth "Betita" Martínez, who passed away on June 29, 2021. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi reviews three works interrogating the anti-Indigenous structures of militarism, settler colonialism, and liberal empire; while Nishant Upadhyay discusses four recent books tracing the colonial history of anti-trans violence and points to the futures signaled by trans of color framework. Two event reviews discuss Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography since 1970 and Coded: The Hidden Love of J. C. Leyendecker, a documentary film on t work of one of the most prolific illustrators of the "golden age" of American illustration.
2022 Special Issue Volume 74, Number 3: From Anarchy to Chaos, Generations of Empire
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, undertake 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.
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. The next two essays examine technology as a terrain of struggle for minoritized communities. Finally, the final essays offers a history of dairying in children’s literature, and of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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