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War and Peace Studies Caucus Main Page

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.

Contact information:

*David Kieran, American Culture Studies Program, Washington University in St. Louis (dkieran@artsci.wustl.edu)

* Aaron DeRosa, English Department, Purdue University (aderosa@purdue.edu)

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News from the War and Peace Studies Caucus & Preparing for ASA 2014

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.

Caucus Leadership
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.

ASA 2014

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?
*  Dialectics of Pain and Pleaseure in Militarism: We seek to examine the production and operation of dialectics of pain and pleasure in war and militarism. Who gets to experience pleasure? Under what condition and at cost to what or whom?  (Contact Ji-Young Um (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) and Rebecca Adelman (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) for information)
*  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.


Dave Kieran

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CFP : Ideas of War and Wars of Ideas

CFP for the Western Political Science Association (WPSA) conference, “The Power of Information” in Seattle, April 17-19:


Ideas of War and Wars of Ideas: Warfare, Information and Political Mobilization

This panel seeks to interrogate the political battles that take place over information concerning actual battles and the warring subjects who fight them. From the Wilson Administration through the Obama Administration, there has long been a close relationship between information management and the justification and execution of military action. We are seeking papers that not only examine the relationship between information and warfare, but that seek to examine the effects that relationship has on the mobilization of political coalitions and movements, as well.

We are looking for two additional panelists to join myself and AJ Bauer, and Cristina Beltrn, who will serve as the panel’s chair/discussant. AJ’s paper will look at the ways in which the New Right leveraged media coverage of Vietnam to spin the loss as justification of the movement’s vilification of the “liberal media.” My paper will consider the strategic release and promotion of data concerning sexual assaults in the military, and how such media has framed the collective identity of victims of sexual trauma, enabling and foreclosing certain acts of political solidarity.

Interested panelists should send a one-paragraph abstract of their paper and CV to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) no later than Thursday September 12 for consideration.

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CFP: Keywords Roundtable, 2013

Hello fellow WPSCers—

I’ve agreed to David’s request that I organize the keywords session roundtable, which came up as a prospect at the caucus meeting in PR in November.

I’ll paste David summary below for folks (like me) who weren’t able to attend the meeting itself:

·    “Keywords for Studying War and Peace ” We think that four years after our very successful ‘Studying War in Peace in American Studies / Studying America by Studying War and Peace roundtable at the 2009 ASA is a good time to revisit some of the foundational questions about how the study of war and peace intersects with the larger American Studies Project. We propose a roundtable in which presenters will briefly present ideas about how critical keywords in American Studies ” Empire, Human Rights, Environment, Peace, Technology, Trauma, Neoliberalism, and others ” intersect with the study of war. We invite ideas about keywords and participants.”

I’d like to reserve the keyword(s) ‘human rights,’ unless somebody else feels strongly attached to it, in which case I could do either ‘race,’ or ‘technology’.  Bob Marzec has asked to cover ‘environment’.  So that’s two down.

Can I ask for at least two others from our caucus to complete the roundtable, two additional folks who might claim one of the key words that David lists above and that I gather circulated w/ some interest (maybe even tentative commitment?) at the meeting in PR?

We’ll also need a Chair for the session.  Anybody?

Please let me know by the end of the week—say, Monday, 12/17—if you would, just so I can fix a roster.  I’d like to get the complete proposal to ASA by 1/15.



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2013 Call for Participation: War and Peace Studies Caucus

The Caucus had a small but effective meeting at the ASA meeting in San Juan, and we are looking forward to the 2013 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. I want to provide a brief update on some ideas for 2013 panels that came up and invite you to contact me if you are interested in participating or if you have ideas of your own that you are interested in circulating.

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2012 Business Meeting of the War and Peace Studies Caucus

Hello War and Peace Studies Caucus Members,

I hope everyone’s semester is off to a great start. The War and Peace Studies Caucus will be meeting from 2:00 to 3:45 on Saturday, November 17, in Foyer A of the Puerto Rico Convention Center. I hope that you will all take time from the program and San Juan to join us. Over the past few years we’ve made great strides in creating opportunities for more war and peace related panels and roundtables at ASA, and for better networking, particularly between senior and junior scholars and graduate students. This meeting will be an opportunity to build on this momentum and also to talk about new directions.

I welcome suggestions for agenda items, etc.

Hopefully before the meeting I will have time to send out a list of panels of interest; in the mean time, I encourage you to use the group to publicize your own panel, recently published writing, or other relevant information.

One event that I hope you will all consider attending is the Roundtable that the Caucus is sponsoring on Vieques. We discussed this last year at out business meeting and thought it crucial given ASA’s location. Several of you worked very hard to make it happen, and the result is a panel that brings together academics from a variety of fields with activists, folks working both in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. I will post the information below.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all in San Juan.



David Kieran
Visiting Assistant Professor
American Studies
Franklin and Marshall

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Scheduled Time: Fri, Nov 16 - 2:00pm - 3:45pm Building/Room: Puerto Rico Convention Center, 101A
Title Displayed in Event Calendar: Vieques Struggle: Political, Social and Historical Significance
Session Participants:
Chair: Marie Cruz-Soto (New York University (NY))
Panelist: Robert Rabin (El Museo Fuerte Conde Mirasol (PR))
Panelist: Bonnie Donohue (School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MA))
Panelist: Nilda Medina Díaz (Incubadora de Microempresas Bieke (PR))
Panelist: Marie Cruz-Soto (New York University (NY))
Puerto Rico inhabits a liminal space. It is a colony, in fact the oldest in the world, of an Empire that denies its imperial identity. As a “non-incorporated territory,” it is neither a full member of the U.S body politic, nor a simple chapter in U.S. mainstream history books. Like all in-between spaces, Puerto Rico(tm)s situation remains, for the most part, out of sight” within U.S. Public discourse “and seldom acknowledged” within mainstream academia. Vieques anti-military social movement changed all this. In a struggle for their lives” and against a military that was tainting their environment and poisoning their bodies “Vieques social movement not only succeeded in expelling the U.S. Navy from the island, but also in bringing to international attention the colonial situation.

Sponsored by the War and Peace Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association, this roundtable will discuss the political, social and historical significance of Vieques(tm) anti-military struggle. The discussion will be led by important activists and academics that participated in and studied the movement. Some of the themes to be discussed include: the relationship between culture, colonialism, and the global presence of the U.S. military; the environmental legacies of U.S. war making; the racial and ethnic dimensions of U.S. militarism; the politics of local and transnational community organizing and activism; and the politics of tourism, among others.

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