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The War and Peace Studies Caucus will identify the analysis of violence and conflict as a primary field of study within American Studies scholarship and provide a dedicated space in which scholars interested in exploring how these issues intersect with the critical questions central to the study of American culture can share ideas, network, and collaborate to generate new directions for research and teaching. Recent scholarship that interrogates questions of transnationalism, imperialism, and borderlands studies, as well as that which seeks to historicize and explore the significance in American culture of the “War on Terror” and the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have led to much excellent work that critically engages these issues. However, scholars working on these issues often remain separated because their alignment with particular subfields and historical periods prohibits collaboration with scholars working on similar issues in other fields or with regard to other historical moments.
The War and Peace Studies Caucus will seek to bridge this gap by encouraging collaboration across subfields and historical periods to develop new directions for teaching and research regarding how issues of violence and conflict intersect with issues ranging from notions of patriotism and nationalism to the role of technology and religion in American life. We are interested in interrogating specific historical incidents, theoretical questions about violence and conflict, the relationship between the study of war and peace and other subfields in American Studies, and all other issues that allow us to critically interrogate both issues of war and peace and the larger question of the location of these issues within the American Studies project.
We are particularly interested in encouraging partnerships that will lead to increased consideration of how the methodological and theoretical approaches central to the study of war and peace are useful in producing new understandings of those topics, and, concurrently, how examining those intersections will lead to innovative understandings of the historical and contemporary significance of war and peace in American culture.
*David Kieran, American Culture Studies Program, Washington University in St. Louis (email@example.com)
* Aaron DeRosa, English Department, Purdue University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hello ASA War and Peace Studies Caucus!
I hope that all of you have had restful winter breaks and that the new semester is beginning well. I am writing, perhaps a few weeks belatedly, to give my annual update on the caucus’ activities and outline some of the potential panel ideas that we developed for ASA 2014.
I have decided that, after five years of running the caucus, it’s time for me to make way for new leadership. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of many of you who share the sense that the issues that we care about deserve a stronger voice in the Association, and I’m grateful for the effort that so many of you have put into organizing panels, attending caucus meetings, and so on.
We have also been very successful. Five years ago, several of us came together at ASA in Albuquerque with the idea that there should be more serious, substantive discussions of war within the ASA; the next year, we had a standing-room roundtable on the topic of what it meant to study war within the ASA. In the years that have followed, our growth has been solid and our presence has become stronger. Whereas before the caucus was formed it was sometimes difficult to find war-related panels at ASA, this past fall we spent the Saturday of ASA attending a full slate of caucus activities and war-related panels, as well as several others on other days. We’ve made great strides, but the caucus will best capitalize on its momentum by transitioning to a new chair with new ideas.
If you are interested in taking a leadership role in the caucus, please email me. My succession plan, if it is agreeable to all, is that if only one person volunteers, that person will take over. If two people volunteer, I propose that those two people become co-chairs. If three people volunteer, we’ll figure out some sort of election process.
The meeting theme for the 2014 ASA is “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century,” and the deadline for the ASA 2014 is 11:59 PM (Pacific) on February 2, 2014. In the past, we have not hewed too closely to the meeting theme, on the theory that strong panels stand the best chance of being accepted, but I would also encourage us to think about how our interest might align with that theme. You can read the CFP and instructions for submitting a proposal here: http://www.theasa.net/submit_a_proposal
At our caucus meeting at the 2013 ASA, we developed a set of potential topics, which I will briefly describe here. If you are interested in organizing a panel on any of them, please email me or use the Google group/Caucus Blog to solicit panel members:
* Militarism and the Pacific World: The Obama administration’s 2011 assertion that “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay” requires historical and analytical work by American Studies scholars. In what ways has American miltiarism engaged with the Pacific World, and how have those intersections been important? What issues are central to thinking about the role of the United States military and the pacific within the context of U.S. empire?
* The American West and American Militarism: A second panel that would be interesting, given the conference location, would examine how the American west has been militarized. From the Mexican-American War through the Indian Wars and afterwards, the west has been a space in which the United States has used military power. As well, it has become a space central to the construction of military bases, the rise of the defense industry and the development of nuclear weapons, drones, and other technologies. The west is also the primary landscape on which Japanese internment occurred and a crucial space for contemporary military recruitment. We invite papers that explore these and other issues related to American militarism and the west.
* The Limits of American Power: We propose a roundtable that examines the role and representation of U.S. military power at the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. How are Americans thinking about what military power can and cannot accomplish? About what U.S. interests are and how they should be achieved? What role does the United States and its military play in the world in the present moment? How has this debate transpired in cultural spaces, and what histories inform that debate?
* Tourism and War: How do tourist practices, in all of their dimensions, intersect with American wars and the aftermath of American Wars? Topics might include tourism during war, consumption, tourist photography and souvenir collecting as well as post-war travel by veterans, refugees, and others.
* Grieveable Bodies: This panel would asses the impact of Judith Butler’s theorizing about bodies at war in contemporary scholarship on war and society in U.S. culture. How has this theorizing shaped the way scholars do their work? What possibilities and limitations does it create? What other ways of thinking about bodies, pain, and affect might be more useful? This panel is intended to start an annual series in which the caucus will take up a major theorist whose work intersects with our own concerns and evaluate the role of that work in the contemporary field.
* Playing War: What is at stake in Americans “playing” war? From childhood play and toys to video games and reenactment, there are many ways in which play and fantasy have been central to American conceptions of war.
These are, of course, only a few possibilities, and we encourage other suggestions. As always, we encourage members to use our Google Group and the caucus blog at the ASA webpage (http://www.theasa.net/caucus_war_and_peace_studies/) to share calls for papers and other announcements.