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From the Editors

Statement in Support of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation

The American Studies Association stands with the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota people who have come together to protect their waters, bodies, lands, and sacred places from those constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline and others who benefit financially from continued reliance on fossil-fuel extraction, refining, and consumption. This statement is a call for ASA members, American studies departments and programs, and others to support the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and those who have joined them in the Sacred Stone Camp, Red Warrior Camp, and Oceti Sakowin Camp as they fight to stop further construction of the DAPL.

Dakota Access Pipeline LLC intends the new pipeline to stretch 1,100 miles from North Dakota to Illinois and to carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Compelling evidence suggests that the effects of these plans on Mni Sose (the Missouri River), which is Standing Rock’s water supply, and the lands, other waterways, and human and non-human persons near the pipeline have not been adequately considered, assessed, or evaluated. If anything, that evidence points to Lakota cultural sites and burial areas already sustaining damage.

The ASA promotes the proliferation of knowledge of the environmental and human impact of such projects as the DAPL. Further, American studies as an academic and scholarly field has developed a growing commitment to understanding US history in the context of Indigenous persistence and the long history of the abrogation of the sovereignty of Indigenous nations by the U.S. nation-state. In light of what we learn and teach as American studies scholars, we join Indigenous organizations, American Indian governments, and other organizations, governments, and institutions around the world in pledging solidarity with and support for the people of Standing Rock.

Thus, we recognize the authority of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and join their call for an immediate and permanent end to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The people of Standing Rock and their Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota relations in the Oceti Sakowin Oyate have made a stand to protect their land, lives, and water and against these threats to their sovereignty, human rights, and basic dignity.  We join them in their stand, and we ask others to do so as well.

Approved by the Executive Committee, 23 September 2016

Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are, November 17-20, 2016

We are writing on behalf of the 2016 ASA Program Committee to say how much we hope you are planning to join us November 17-20 in Denver for an annual meeting that will feature compelling sessions on vital topics, including transphobic bathroom laws, Colorado’s ADX Florence supermax prison, the legacies of the Sand Creek Massacre, and more.

The annual meeting is an expression of the collective knowledge and connective analyses of ASA members, and we are grateful to the hundreds of our colleagues from across the globe who submitted proposals this year. The meeting theme, “Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are” generated thoughtful, incisive session proposals, including many on indigeneity and place, the politics of homelessness, prisons as not home, and the determinative power of race and migration on defining at-homeness, among many others. The program also features many sessions that do not match the theme but demonstrate the ongoing and emerging agendas of scholars who work in American studies.

The committee was not, of course, able to accept all submissions. The program includes 296 sessions that the committee accepted from the 328 session submissions. The percentage of accepted session submissions is consistent with what has happened in recent years. This year we received an unusually high number of proposals for individual papers (418). In spite of the high volume, the committee accepted a record percentage of proposals for individual papers. Those accepted proposals turned into 71 sessions.

The program committee also developed sessions that highlight the theme and emerging issues, including the proliferation of campus carry laws, the status of queer of color critique, whiteness and indigeneity, and blackness and the precarity of home. Several sessions will mark the enduring impact of figures who died since we last met, including Cedric Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Grace Lee Boggs, and Patrick Wolfe.

We remember these extraordinary figures in the midst of our annual routine, which somehow becomes more extraordinary every year. Whether ASA is your intellectual home, professional refuge, or your home/not home away from home/not home, we appreciate the opportunity to spend the past year working on your behalf as the association’s members and sustainers.

Robert Warrior
ASA President

Sharon P. Holland
J. Kēhaulani Kauanui
Jean M. O’Brien
Co-Chairs, 2016 ASA Program Committee

View the 2016 Annual Meeting Program Online
View the 2017 Annual Meeting Theme and Planning Committees (PDF)

Election 2017 Nominations

The Nominating Committee is preparing a ballot for the 2017 annual ASA elections. Members of the American Studies Association are invited to submit recommendations for elected positions. Letters suggesting or recommending a candidate should relate the member’s experience to the association’s work and his or her vitae.

The following positions appear on the 2017 election ballot: president-elect (1 position), member of the council (4 positions), international member of council (1 position), K-12 member of council (1 position), student councilor (1 position), and member of the nominating committee (2 positions).

Please submit your recommendations no later than October 1, 2016, to the Nominating Committee:

Chair:  Shana Redmond, University of Southern California
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Mishuana Goeman, University of California, Los Angeles
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Jodi Kim, University of California, Riverside
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Karen Leong, Arizona State University
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Ernesto Javier Martínez, University of Oregon
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Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Northwestern University
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The final slate must provide representation of the diversity of the Association’s membership. Those nominated must be current members of ASA in order to serve. All persons elected serve three-year terms and will take office on July 1, 2017.

Nominations may also be made by petitions carrying in each case the signatures of at least twenty-five members of the association in good standing and indicating in each case the particular vacancy for which the nomination is intended. The Chair of the Nominating Committee must receive nominations by petition no later than October 1st. The Chair shall ascertain that all candidates nominated by the committee or by petition have consented to stand for election.

Statement on Academic Freedom in Turkey

cademic Engagement Network
African Studies Association
American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
American Association of Geographers
Executive Committee of the American Comparative Literature Association
American Council of Learned Societies
American Folklore Society
American Historical Association
American Library Association
American Philosophical Association
American Musicological Society
American Society for Environmental History
American Sociological Association
American Studies Association
Association for Middle East Women’s Studies
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities
Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present
Association of College & Research Libraries
British International Studies Association
British Society for Middle Eastern Studies
Executive Committee of the California Scholars for Academic Freedom
College Art Association
Economic History Association
European Association for Middle Eastern Studies
European Association of Social Anthropologists
European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS)
Executive Board of the European Society for Translation Studies
German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO)
German Studies Association
Gingko Library
International Center for Medieval Art
International Courtly Literature Society
International Society for Third-Sector Research
Italian American Studies Association
Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SeSaMo)
Latin American Studies Association
Law and Society Association
Linguistic Society of America
The Medieval Academy of America
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Communication Association
Organization of American Historians
Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
Peace and Justice Studies Association
Political Studies Association
Société Française de Littérature Générale et Comparée
Society for Cinema and Media Studies
Society for Classical Studies
Society for Ethnomusicology
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts
Society of Architectural Historians
Society of Biblical Literature
Southeastern Medieval Association
TESOL International Association
West African Research Association
Western Society of Criminology
World History Association

The above listed organizations collectively note with profound concern the apparent moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions, and assertions of central control, a process begun earlier this year and accelerating now with alarming speed.

As scholarly associations, we are committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The recent moves in Turkey herald a massive and virtually unprecedented assault on those principles. One of the Middle East region’s leading systems of higher education is under severe threat as a result, as are the careers and livelihoods of many of its faculty members and academic administrators.

Our concern about the situation in Turkish universities has been mounting over the past year, as Turkish authorities have moved to retaliate against academics for expressing their political views—some merely signing an “Academics for Peace” petition criticizing human rights violations.

Yet the threat to academic freedom and higher education has recently worsened in a dramatic fashion. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15-16, 2016, the Turkish government has moved to purge government officials in the Ministry of Education and has called for the resignation of all university deans across the country’s public and private universities. As of this writing, it appears that more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry have been fired and nearly 1600 deans—1176 from public universities and 401 from private universities—have been asked to resign. In addition, 21,000 private school teachers have had their teaching licenses cancelled. Further, reports suggest that travel restrictions have been imposed on academics at public universities and that Turkish academics abroad were required to return to Turkey. The scale of the travel restrictions, suspension and imposed resignations in the education sector seemingly go much farther than the targeting of individuals who might have had any connection to the attempted coup.

The crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government. Moreover, the removal of all of the deans across the country represents a direct assault on the institutional autonomy of Turkey’s universities. The replacement of every university’s administration simultaneously by the executive-controlled Higher Education Council would give the government direct administrative control of all Turkish universities. Such concentration and centralization of power over all universities is clearly inimical to academic freedom. Moreover, the government’s existing record of requiring university administrators’ to undertake sweeping disciplinary actions against perceived opponents—as was the case against the Academics for Peace petition signatories—lends credence to fears that the change in university administrations will be the first step in an even broader purge against academics in Turkey.

Earlier this year, it was already clear that the record of violations by the Turkish government of academic freedom and freedom of expression amassed in a matter of months has been staggering. The aftermath of the attempted coup may have accelerated and widened those attacks on academic freedom in even more alarming ways.

As scholarly organizations, we collectively call for respect for academic freedom—including freedom of expression, opinion, association and travel—and the autonomy of universities in Turkey, offer our support to our Turkish colleagues, second the Middle East Studies Association’s “call for action” of January 15, request that Turkey’s diplomatic interlocutors (both states and international organizations) advocate vigorously for the rights of Turkish scholars and the autonomy of Turkish universities, suggest other scholarly organizations speak forcefully about the threat to the Turkish academy, and alert academic institutions throughout the world that Turkish colleagues are likely to need moral and substantive support in the days ahead.

(note: organizations wishing to be included as signatories on the above statement should contact Amy Newhall at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

AQ Call for Papers: Special Issue

Call for Papers: Special Issues
American Quarterly publishes one special issue per year each September.  Special issues are edited by the guest editors in collaboration with the AQ editors and the AQ Managing Board. They are comprised of a combination of essays that are solicited by the editors and essays that are submitted to a call for papers. The process is subject to editorial but not blind peer review. For more information on special issues and a look back at past special issues, please visit the Special Issues page.

Call for Papers: American Quarterly Special Issue, 2017
The Chinese Factor: Reorienting Global Imaginaries in American Studies

Guest Editors:
Chih-ming Wang, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
Yu-Fang Cho, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

The rise of China, both as a palpable geopolitical force and a contested discursive formation, has centrally occupied US global imaginaries in the most recent decade: from the controversies surrounding the Confucius Institute in the United States to the disputes over territories in South China Sea; from the hypervisibility of “Chinese” capital to the heterogeneous diasporas that contest what constitutes Chineseness; and from China’s “One Belt, One Road” master plan that integrates Central Asia and Southeast Asia to the struggles of democracy in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. As a geopolitical and discursive factor with global implications, the rise of China poses imminent epistemological and political challenges to American studies and its sense of the world.

The 2017 special issue of American Quarterly, “The Chinese Factor: Reorienting Global Imaginaries in American Studies,” will build on critical transpacific studies by complicating and interrogating existing paradigms for comprehending the rise of China discourse vis-à-vis the place of the United States in the world. As a new iteration of the Yellow Peril discourse, such orientalist imagining persistently reproduces and reifies China as a threatening and monolithic alterity. As such, this dominant discourse often erases and obscures heterogeneous genealogies, critical contestations, and translocal formations within and across China, Asia, the Pacific, and beyond. This special issue seeks to unpack the specific workings of this iteration through simultaneous valuation and devaluation, where Chinese market, labor, capital, language, and culture are alternately posited as vital to securing US global power yet highly suspicious and dispensable. How do we understand America’s schizophrenic imaginings of China and their implications, as China has risen from the ashes of the Cold War to this moment of neoliberal precarity as America’s greatest creditor, supplier, and contender for hegemony? How has America’s premier object of love and hate functioned as a historical, material, and cultural force in the US effort to remake itself in response to the shifting world order? What new archives could be activated to create openings onto alternative routes of knowledge, cultural and social formations, and political affiliations within and beyond the orbits of empires? This special issue welcomes critical practices, analyses, and visions that explore historical and contemporary intimacies of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation in comparative contexts as ways to facilitate self-reflexive dialogues between American studies, critical ethnic studies, and Asian studies.

Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • migrations, circuits of flexible accumulation of capital and networks of moving bodies, the expansion of US universities, and the emergence of global studies;
  • valuation and devaluation of racialized, gendered, and sexualized bodies and labor in comparative contexts;
  • critiques of and affinities across overlapping settler colonialism, neocolonialism, and neoliberalism in cultural production and social movement;
  • race, queer belonging, and post/Cold War campaigns for democracy; and
  • Chinese/Taiwanese American cultural and social formations in spaces such as college campuses, garment sweatshops, chop-suey restaurants, and the Silicon Valley.

Submissions are due August 1, 2016. Authors must address the guest editors and clearly indicate in a cover letter that the submission is intended for the special issue. Accepted submissions will appear in American Quarterly, volume 69, issue 3 (Fall 2017). Information about American Quarterly and submission guidelines can be found at http://www.americanquarterly.org.

ASA Member Viet Thanh Nguyen Winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize

Congratulations to Viet Thanh Nguyen for his remarkable debut novel, The Sympathizer, winner the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Fiction

A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the American War in Vietnam that have preceded it, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer.

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s astonishing novel takes us inside the mind of this double agent, a man whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the American War in Vietnam in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

—from the publisher

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His stories have appeared in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and the co-editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). His next book is Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2016. He is Associate Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

ASA Awards Community Partnership and Regional Chapter Grants

ASA 2016 Community Partnership Grants

The American Studies Association is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 ASA Community Partnership Grants to support collaborative interdisciplinary community projects utilizing American Studies pedagogy, curriculum, research, and other resources.

1.  University of Pittsburgh: Art, Social Change, and Neighborhood Identities: Hemispheric Conversations.  (Amount $3,000)

This project will bring artists from Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Leon Guanajuato, Mexico into conversation with Pittsburgh residents and each other. By developing workshops on the history of aerosol art, planning public murals, and holding a pot luck party, and one-day symposium, this project allows for artists and residents to connect shared challenges in post-industrial urban spaces, and to explore public art making as a means of democratically shaping the urban environment. Its goals are educational, professional, oriented towards social change, and future collaboration.

2. University of New Mexico: Promoting Service Learning in American Studies.  (Amount $3,000)

This joint project of the Department of American Studies and the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will establish a number of paid internships for undergraduate and graduate students in American Studies.  Under supervision by the NHCC curatorial staff, interns will conduct primary research, oral interviews, and studio visits.  They will help select artworks to be exhibited, write object and text labels, and develop exhibit-related programming.

ASA 2016 Regional Chapter Grants

The American Studies Association is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Regional Chapter Grants to develop programming, in the form of conferences or other projects, that engages both American Studies practitioners and others interested in the field within a specific region in an original and creative manner.

1. Hawai’i American Studies Association:  Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai’i Workshops and Creative Project. (Amount $3,000)

The project will host two full-day writing workshops for contributors who include academics, activists, artists, and practitioners. It will then host a public forum following the second workshop session. The editors of Detours are committed to allowing the project to unfold as contributors bring their expertise and ideas to it. The book and related materials will address specifically the ways in which communities of practice are working against the harmful effects of the tourism industry, while simultaneously turning the infrastructure of tourism and the genre of tourism writing on its head.

2. New England American Studies Association: NEASA Professional Development Colloquium, Annual Conference, and Liaison Program (NLP).  (Amount $3,000)

The goal of the program is to increase participation in American Studies events and to create a mechanism that will allow NEASA to better represent its broad membership. The colloquium, to be held in fall 2016, will again focus on professionalization concerns for graduate students, faculty, and alternative academics.  The next NEASA conference will be held in spring 2017.  To support these efforts, NEASA will use the ASA funds to help supplement the costs of its upcoming annual programs and NLP, which seek to contribute to the local scholarly communities both inside and beyond the academy.

3. New York Metro American Studies Association: Everything You Wanted to Know About Academic Professionalization—But Were Too Busy Updating Your CV to Ask. (Amount $3,000)

The colloquium will address careers outside academia for PhDs in American Studies and related fields, as well as offer workshops on skills and competencies central to academic professionalization. It will invite editors of major journals in American Studies as well as the editorial staff of university presses to speak about the environment for scholarly publishing today. The colloquium will include a session on grant-writing.  It will also bring in speakers on careers outside of academia, as well as offering short “how-to” sessions on nuts-and-bolts skills like compiling a cv, writing fellowship applications, and composing conference proposals.

4. Southern American Studies Association: Migrations and Circulations (2017 Biennial Conference of the Southern American Studies Association). ($3,000)

The grant will fund two initiatives that align with the mission of the conference and of the SASA. First, support for transportation and subsidized registration will enhance opportunities for educators and students to attend “Migrations and Circulations” and deepen the diversity of perspectives on conference themes. Additionally, funding for a plenary and discussion that engages all attendees in sustained exploration of interdisciplinary work by a prominent scholar will generate conversations about the past and future of our discipline.  The conference expects 150-200 attendees, including from states outside the region and throughout the world.

ASA Statement on North Carolina HB2

May 9, 2016

ASA Statement on North Carolina HB2
For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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In March of 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2 (HB2), otherwise known as the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act” which severely limits how cities and counties can protect their residents from a wide range of discrimination, including racial bias in the workplace. HB2 effectively overturns local policies that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people. It bans a city or county from requiring its vendors to provide employees with a living wage and decent benefits and preempts local anti-discrimination policies and enforcement tools that protected everyone regardless of race, national origin, age, disability, gender or religion. In addition, HB2 prohibits a worker who is the target of racial, age or other discrimination from going to any state court for relief. 

While the Governor’s attempt to construe the bill as solely about safety and security - in short, the protection of children and families from LGBT people -  people of conscience around the US and around the world have condemned HB2 and its attempt to use hatred and fear to legislate discrimination in place of federal protections.

Among the many protections active and available to all people in the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has declared that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination requires that covered employees (including those of public universities) must be permitted to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Second, the Department of Education has declared that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination requires that students in universities receiving federal financial assistance must be able to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.  

In the wake of the passage of HB2, corporations, performers and professional organizations have cancelled events, prohibited travel to the state and halted planned expansions into the state. As elected leaders of an academic association with members across the state, we, the Executive Committee of the American Studies Association, join with others around the world in condemning HB2 and calling for its repeal. We are greatly concerned that the flagship University in the state (UNC-CH) and this country’s oldest public University has not taken a stand in opposition to HB2, but has provided mixed messages about the need to comply with the law, while at the same time upholding Title VII and IX protections. Such mixed messages do little to ensure members of the LGBTQI community that the atmosphere in which they work and teach is safe.

Our bylaws, in contrast, give us clear guidance. In seeking sites for our annual meetings, a fundamental criterion is the accessibility and safety of all of our members. HB2 commits the state of North Carolina to exactly the opposite, reinforcing and institutionalizing regimes of exclusion, intimidation, and hate that target people whose dignity and integrity is fundamental to our most basic values.

Therefore, we endorse the actions of those who have joined a boycott of the State of North Carolina until HB2 is fully repealed. Further, we encourage other organizations, including ASA’s regional chapters, to commit to accessibility and safety of all members in deciding where they meet if they have not already done so.

Executive Committee of the American Studies Association
President: David Roediger, University of Kansas
President-elect: Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Immediate Past President: Lisa Duggan, New York University
Councilor: Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Councilor: Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park
Councilor: Sharon Holland, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

ASA Letter of Concern about Proposed Cuts to the College of Ethnic Studies (SFSU)

March 8, 2016

Office of the President
Academic Affairs and the Office of the Provost
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue, Administration Building 562
San Francisco, CA 94132

Dear President Wong and Provost Rosser:

On behalf of the Executive Council of the American Studies Association, the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. cultures and histories in a global context, we are writing to express our grave concern about the proposed cuts to the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU). We ask that you take seriously the demands set forth by the faculty, staff, and students invested in preserving the future of the only College of Ethnic Studies in the world.

SFSU’s College of Ethnic Studies is internationally renowned. It began in 1969 with the founding of the first ever Black Studies program in a four-year university; in the decades since, it has grown and expanded to be an intellectual and institutional site for the support of scholarship about and participation of communities of color, indigenous peoples, women of color, LGBTQ people, the working class, and others systematically excluded from access to higher education.

This valuable institution is now faced unprecedented cuts, following a decision-making process lacking in transparency. Austerity measures are devastating public universities all across the country; regardless, this does not justify the top-down slashing of budgets that would essentially destroy programs that not only serve underrepresented peoples at the University, but also sustain a vibrant and necessary climate of academic freedom - one of the hallmarks of University intellectual life.

The relations of Ethnic Studies scholarship to American Studies are vital to the scholarly work produced in our field - locally and globally. In short, American Studies could not and would not be a viable intellectual enterprise without intellectual contributions which have helped to move the field from its beginnings in the 1950s and its focus on defining itself along its national boundaries to work that connects these concerns with diverse communities on the ground and their connections to peoples across the globe. This turn in American Studies toward scholarly work that reflects our inside and our outside has revitalized the field in the last thirty years and continues to be the touchstone for the proliferation of American Studies programs, departments and institutes in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Any moves to diminish or eliminate Ethnic Studies strike at the heart of American Studies and we urge you to come to the table with concerned students, faculty, and community members to reach a plan for moving forward that recognizes the invaluable presence of Ethnic Studies both at the University itself, and in the work of American Studies more generally.

Executive Committee of the American Studies Association
President: David Roediger, University of Kansas
President-elect: Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Immediate Past President: Lisa Duggan, New York University
Councilor: Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Councilor: Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park
Councilor: Sharon Holland, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Reflections on the Annual Meeting, October 2015

Our gathering in Toronto for the 2015 ASA was born of a deep acknowledgment of ongoing violences as well as the long traditions and new innovations that move a world in struggle. We came to this year’s conference possessed of the knowledge of Black teenager Michael Brown, an Indigenous movement known as Idle No More, and the stakes of the claim “Soy Dominicano.” The conference theme, “The (Re)Production of Misery and the Ways of Resistance,” provided various angles and ports of entry for us as American Studies scholars to consider the ways in which chronic conditions of injustice can and do give rise to fighting back and breaking through within and beyond the Americas. Across four days and scores of sessions, the ASA investigated, interrogated, finessed, and critiqued these conditions as products of social and political economies, reminding us that misery remains a product of our social, political, and economic world.

Interrogations of the theme naturally took aim at the exposition and critique of the structures and methods that enforce widespread dispossession, alienation, and death. Entrenched definitions of genocide, for example, were troubled through examinations that extended its application into the practices of policing, incarceration, and aid. Evaluations of contemporary global settler colonialism, appropriative labor, and biopolitics oriented our sightlines and methods of investigation into the darker and poorer populations of the world and illuminated the ways in which these people grow darker and poorer with every coming administration, war, and disaster. In addition to these miserable conditions, critical questions were brought to bear on the organizing themes and keywords of our sociopolitical past, present, and futures. In his presidential address David Roediger compelled the audience to consider what and whom “solidarity” leaves out and whose absence it is premised upon. This challenge to the very nature of what we know of our progressive movement past or present is not the undermining of them but rather the necessary concern that must animate any steps toward a collective future.

The seriousness of the aforementioned realities did not calcify or stifle the types of engagements had amongst conference participants. It is telling that, even within the framework of misery, so much joy was experienced and expressed this year. Indeed, this too is resistance. We laughed at the sardonic brilliance of comedian Aamer Rahman, reveled in the creations of Erykah Badu, and entered wide-eyed into the speculative worlds of fiction. We heard, saw (and, dare we, felt?) the suciedad of queer socialities, imagined new methods of interaction and identification outside of the state, and boldly encountered the calculated risk involved in the creation of new pedagogies. We celebrated together—the authors, the mentors, students, and colleagues without whom we would not think as we think or know as we know. We lovingly (re)animated some of the many thinkers gone, including James Baldwin, whose wisdom inspired more than one session. And, perhaps most importantly, we dreamed of new conditions and projects, the ends of which we expect to see in the not too distant future.

Toronto was an excellent site for the meeting, providing not only a delectable mix of peoples but also cuisines, histories, and points of entry and exit. Toronto is a hangout in a way no big city in the United States can boast, but that vibe is part of a productive, serious space too close to U.S. borders to elude juxtaposition. For many of us traveling from the States, its sameness and difference provide a respite from the onslaught of the branded America that is our quotidian reality. A worldly city of old and new immigrants, Toronto is also an ancient redoubt of Indigenous presence and African refuge. Our investment in engaging in meaningful exchanges beyond the conference site was made possible through the exceptional work of our local colleagues. The Site Resources Committee connected us to the city in astoundingly thoughtful ways. Their events focused on how the themes of misery and resistance, together, inform the historically present spaces of Toronto. ASA members were introduced to Black and Indigenous geographies, sonic walks, the city’s green spaces, collaborative events with activists, local union members, and graduate students, and a range of creative works at galleries and museums. Far from auxiliary, these events served to ground us in a moment and at the place from which we might imagine anew our relationship to the world in which we live, love, work, and play.

As a bellwether of American Studies scholarship, we recognize the American Studies Association as not simply an intellectual formation but also an opportunity. We as Program Committee co-chairs were incredibly gratified at the program’s range of ideas, analyses, registers, and methodologies. We’re proud of the work accomplished and thank you for your commitment to sharing with us in this urgent project.

Jennifer L. Pierce, Shana L. Redmond, and Robert Warrior

Election Results 2016

The voting in the ASA Election is now completed. The following members have been elected to three-year terms that shall last from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2019.

Kandice Chuh, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Miranda Joseph, University of Arizona
Laura Kang, University of California, Irvine
Eng-beng Lim, Dartmouth College
Michelle Stephens, Rutgers University
Shirley Thompson, University of Texas, Austin

Student Councilor
Rosie Uyola, Rutgers University

Nominating Committee
Mishuana Goeman, University of California, Los Angeles
Ernesto Javier Martínez, University of Oregon

The Council extends its appreciation to all those who agreed to run for office, congratulates the new leaders of the Association, and wishes them success in their undertakings over the next three years.

The Council also extends its gratitude to those who are completing their term of service. The councilors and nominating committee members whose terms expire on June 30, 2016 include:


Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas, Austin
Lisa Duggan, immediate past president, New York University
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University
Marisol LeBrón, student councilor, Dickinson College
Sunaina Maira, University of California, Davis
Martin Manalansan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Juana María Rodríguez, University of California, Berkeley

Nominating Committee

Judy Wu, University of California, Irvine
Siobhan Somerville, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The current roster of board and committee members is available here.

Ratification of revised Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws

The revised Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were ratified by a favorable vote of 97% of the members voting.

Applications for Standing and Prize Committees

The Executive Committee of the American Studies Association invites applications and nominations for the committee positions listed below. Candidates must be association members and should possess expertise appropriate to the committee’s work.

Applications should include a brief statement outlining one’s qualifications and experience, letter(s) of reference relating the applicant’s experience to the committee’s work , and the applicant’s two-page (maximum) vita, or link to the applicant’s online biography.

Nominations should relate the candidate’s experience to the committee’s work and include each candidate’s brief statement outlining his or her qualifications and experience, and the nominee’s (maximum) two-page vita, or link to the applicant’s online biography.

The materials should not exceed six pages in length. Do not submit academic resumes. Emailed, faxed, scanned, or posted applications will NOT be accepted.

All application materials should be assembled by the submitter(s) and transmitted to the ASA electronically in the form of a single PDF on or before April 1, 2016 via the online submission form here: Online Submission Form.  You may also ship the application PDF via Dropbox to (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

Standing Committees:

Committee on American Studies Programs and Centers: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the current interests, needs, and professional concerns of American Studies departments and programs, and has the responsibility for special tasks involving the association’s institutional membership. Two positions, three-year terms.

Committee on Critical Ethnic Studies: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the current activities, interests, and professional concerns affecting Ethnic Studies programs, departments, and scholars; to act as a liaison among association standing committees; to be responsible for liaison with other ethnic studies organizations, and to have responsibility for special tasks involving Critical Ethnic Studies scholars and scholarship. Two positions, three-year terms.

Committee on Gender and Sexuality Studies Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the issues affecting women, queer and transgender peoples in the profession and has responsibility for special tasks involving these communities in the membership.Two positions, three-year terms.

Committee on Graduate Education: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the current issues affecting graduate education in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and other interdisciplinary graduate-level instruction; to act as a liaison between the association and national organizations concerning graduate education in the field, such as, but not limited to, the National Research Council; to act as a liaison among association standing committees on issues concerning graduate education; and shall have responsibility for special tasks involving the association’s institutional members that have Ph.D. and M.A. degree granting programs concerning graduate education. Two positions, three year terms.

Committee on K-16 Collaboration: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the current interests, needs, and professional orientations of K-16 educators involved with American Studies programs or curricula. Two positions, three-year terms.

International Committee: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the issues affecting international scholars and students in the profession and has responsibility for special tasks involving international scholars and students in the membership. International members of the ASA especially are encouraged to apply. Three positions, three-year terms.

Minority Scholars’ Committee: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the issues affecting minority scholars in the profession and has responsibility for special tasks involving minority scholars in the membership. Two positions, three-year terms.

Students’ Committee: Keeps the Council and the association’s membership informed of the current interests, needs, and orientations of American Studies students. Two positions, three-year terms.

Prize Committees (2017):

The Prize Committees for 2017 start work during the fall of the 2016-2017 academic year and complete their work by September 2017.

The John Hope Franklin Publication Prize Committee selects the best-published book in American Studies submitted each year to the Committee by authors and publishers. Three positions, one-year term.

The Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize Committee: selects a person for the best-published first book in American Studies that highlights the intersections of race with gender, class, sexuality and/or nation. Three positions, one-year term.

The Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize Committee selects the best completed dissertation in American Studies submitted to the committee by graduate programs in American Studies, American ethnic studies, and American women’s studies. Three positions, one-year term.

The Constance M. Rourke Prize Committee selects the best article published each year in American Quarterly. Three positions, two-year terms.

The Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize Committee selects the best paper presented by a graduate student at the annual meeting. Three positions, two-year terms.

The Yasuo Sakakibara Prize Committee selects the best paper presented by an international scholar at the annual meeting. Three positions, two-year terms.

Carl Bode - Norman Holmes Pearson Prize Committee selects a person for outstanding, life-time contributions to American Studies. Three positions, three-year terms.

Mary C. Turpie Prize Committee selects a person for outstanding contributions to teaching, advising, and program development in American Studies at the local or regional level. Three positions, three -year terms.

ASA Statement of Concern about Censorship of Educational Material Pertaining to Racial Inequality

February 17, 2016

Media Contact:
John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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The Executive Committee of the American Studies Association (ASA) deplores the apparent decision of the Board of Education in Henrico County, Virginia to ban the valuable short video Unequal Opportunity Race. We express our support for the joint statement of the African American Policy Forum, which created the video, and the National Association for Ethnic Studies confronting this act of censorship. That statement is found here http://www.aapf.org/2016/statement-from-aapf-and-naes. The video, shown by Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Ravi K. Perry as an invited guest at Henrico County’s Glen Allen High School, has contributed to productive debates in classrooms since 2010. Nevertheless Henrico County has capitulated to a conservative campaign to falsely brand the grounded discussion of structural racism in Unequal Opportunity Race as illegitimately playing upon white guilt. The facts of past and present impacts of racist practices cannot be placed beyond the limits of permissible discussion in our classrooms. As an organization of 5000 educators, including K-12 teachers, studying the United States, the ASA encourages the Board of Education in Henrico County to make clear that it will not prevent the showing of Unequal Opportunity Race.

Executive Committee of the American Studies Association

President: David Roediger, University of Kansas
President-elect: Robert Warrior, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Immediate Past President: Lisa Duggan, New York University
Councilor: Jodi Byrd, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Councilor: Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park
Councilor: Sharon Holland, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Past Presidents of the American Studies Association

Kevin K. Gaines, 2009-2010
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, 2010-2011
Priscilla Wald, 2011-2012
Matthew Frye Jacobson, 2012-2013
Curtis Marez, 2013-2014

American Scholarly Societies Joint Statement on Campus Carry Legislation


Washington, DC (November 30, 2015). The American Studies Association joins our colleagues in 29 other scholarly societies in opposing legislation designed to facilitate the carrying of guns on college campuses.  We encourage our members in any state considering such legislation to bring the perspective of American studies scholars, teachers, writers, administrators and activists to the debate.

American Scholarly Societies Joint Statement on “Campus Carry” Legislation

The undersigned learned societies are deeply concerned about the impact of Texas’s new Campus Carry law on freedom of expression in Texas universities. The law, which was passed earlier this year and takes effect in 2016, allows licensed handgun carriers to bring concealed handguns into buildings on Texas campuses. Our societies are concerned that the Campus Carry law and similar laws in other states introduce serious safety threats on college campuses with a resulting harmful effect on students and professors.

American Academy of Religion
American Anthropological Association
American Antiquarian Society
American Association for the History of Medicine
American Folklore Society
American Historical Association
American Musicological Society
American Philosophical Association
American Political Science Association
American Studies Association
American Society for Aesthetics
American Society for Environmental History 
American Sociological Association
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Association of American Geographers
College Art Association
Latin American Studies Association
Law and Society Association
Medieval Academy of America
Middle East Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Communication Association
National Council on Public History
Oral History Association
Society for American Music
Society of Architectural Historians
Society of Biblical Literature
Society for Ethnomusicology
World History Association

AAUP Opposes Campus Carry Laws

In a recent statement, the AAUP, American Federation of Teachers, Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, also “strongly support efforts to make college campuses as safe and weapon-free as possible for students, faculty, staff, parents, and community members. We oppose efforts to enact “campus carry” laws and call for their repeal where they already exist. We encourage colleges and universities to embrace critical incident planning that includes faculty and staff and to advise all faculty and staff of these plans. We further call on these institutions to rely on trained and equipped professional law-enforcement personnel to respond to emergency incidents. State legislative bodies must refrain from interfering with decisions that are properly the responsibility of the academic community.”

ASA Calls for Racial Justice, Strengthened Solidarity among Activists and Scholars



TORONTO (October 9, 2015) - The American Studies Association called today at its annual meeting in Toronto for a renewed focus on racial justice following more than a year of high-profile deaths of people of color by increasingly militarized American law enforcement. In his address to the 5,000-member organization, ASA President and Foundation Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas historian David Roediger also appealed for a continued strengthening of solidarity among those at the forefront of social change.

As Roediger argues in his 2015 Byron Caldwell Smith Award book Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All, there are often important and unrecognized connections between the struggles of the oppressed. After Emancipation, unexpected solidarities developed between slave liberation activists and the struggles of Northern laborers and feminists. Similarly, after the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, new connections have been fostered between the Black Lives Matter movement, immigrant rights organizations, LGBT groups and Palestinian activists

“The impressive solidarities that emerged and matured in and beyond Ferguson among a diverse group of activists are to be commended,” Roediger said. “However, history shows us that these solidarities do not come easily and must be deeply interrogated and struggled over in a continual search for new insights into better ways to support social justice movements.”

Roediger reminded the audience of the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “All good causes are mutually helpful.”

Finally, Roediger acknowledged the work of the two past ASA presidents Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez on academic freedom and the academic boycott of Israel respectively, noting: “Recent events concerning the University of California Board of Regents, as well as a report released last week by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal remind us that serious threats to freedom of speech and academic freedom for students and professors at American universities have become even more urgent in the past few years. Moving forward, we renew our commitment to actively speak out and engage our members and the public on these issues.”

About the ASA
Chartered in 1951, the American Studies Association has 5,000 members dedicated to promoting meaningful dialogue about the United States, throughout the U.S. and across the globe. Our purpose is to support scholars and scholarship committed to original research, critical thinking, and public discussion and debate. We hold in common the desire to view U.S. history and culture from multiple perspectives. In addition to being the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture and history in a global context, we are also one of the leading scholarly communities supporting social change.

ASA President David Roediger’s speech will be livestreamed on the Periscope app at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 9, 2015. Follow the ASA on Twitter and Periscope: @amerstudiesassn.

LARB Interview with David Roediger, Miserablism and Resistance at the American Studies Association

For information, interviews and Toronto press passes contact:
Stephanie Willerton, ASA Communications: 646-775-1041; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


American Studies Association Awards Ceremony (2015)

September 22, 2015

Press Contact: Stephanie Willerton, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

All requests for interviews should be submitted by email to the press contact

For additional information about the ASA Awards Program, click here

The American Studies Association is proud to recognize the continuing high level of scholarship examining our American cultures. We ask all members of the Association to join in congratulating their fellow members to be honored at this year’s award ceremony at our annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.

For additional information about the annual meeting, click here

The Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, October 9, 7:00 to 8:00pm, Sheraton Centre, Civic Ballroom Foyer (Waterfall Garden) with champagne and non-alcoholic beverages available to toast and cheer this year’s fantastic award winners! We hope to see you there!

The 2015 Constance M. Rourke Prize
Chair: Dayo Gore, University of California, San Diego
Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Lisa Marie Cacho, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Constance Rourke Prize has been awarded annually since 1987 for the best article published in American Quarterly. The winner of this year’s prize is Monica Muñoz Martinez, “Recuperating Histories of Violence in the Americas: Vernacular History-Making on the US-Mexico Border,” American Quarterly 66, no. 3 (2014): 661-689.

Finalist mention goes to Christina Heatherton, “University of Radicalism: Ricardo Flores Magón and Leavenworth Penitentiary” American Quarterly 66, no. 3 (2014): 557-581.

The 2015 Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize
Chair: Alyosha Goldstein, University of New Mexico
Lisa Hajjar, University of California, Santa Barbara
Karen Shimakawa, New York University

The Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, established in 1974, has been awarded annually since 1987 by the Association for the best dissertation in American Studies.

The 2015 prizewinner is Erin Durban-Albrecht (University of Arizona) for her dissertation “Postcolonial Homophobia: United States Imperialism in Haiti and the Transnational Circulation of Anti-Gay Sexual Politics.” 

The committee also selected two finalists: Megan Black (George Washington University) for “The Global Interior: Imagining and Extracting Minerals in the Postwar Expansion of American Capitalism” and Stuart Schrader (New York University) for “American Streets, Foreign Territory: How Counterinsurgent Police Waged War on Crime.”

The 2015 Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize
Chair: Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Wells College
Jayna Brown, University of California, Riverside
Robert McRuer, George Washington University

The Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize is awarded each year for the best paper to be presented by a graduate student at the annual meeting.  The winning paper may deal with any aspect of American history, literature, or culture, but should reflect the breadth, the critical imagination, the intellectual boldness, and the cross-disciplinary perspective so strongly a part of the scholarship of both Gene Wise and Warren Susman. 

The 2015 prizewinner is Patrick McKelvey for his paper “Disemploying Prosthetics.”  Finalist mention goes to Heather Berg for her paper “Porn Work, Post Work.”

The 2015 Yasuo Sakakibara Prize
Chair: Ira Dworkin, Texas A&M University
Paul Amar, University of California, Santa Barbara
Jasbir Puar, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

The Yasuo Sakakibara Prize is awarded annually for the best paper to be presented by an international scholar at the annual meeting.  The winning paper may deal with any aspect of American history, culture, or society.

The 2015 prizewinner is Kirsty Robertson for her paper “Oil Futures/Petro-Fabrics.”  Finalist mention goes to Jeffrey Severs for his paper “Love in the Time of Financialization: Other Halves, Currency in Crisis, and Wallace’s Brief Interviews.”

The 2015 Comparative Ethnic Studies Essay Prize

The Comparative Ethnic Studies Essay Prize is awarded by the Committee on Ethnic Studies for the best paper to be presented at the annual meeting in critical ethnic studies in comparative, transnational and global contexts.

The 2015 prizewinner is Stanley Thangaraj for his paper “White and Islam: Contradictory Racial Logics in Kurdish America.”  Finalist mention goes to Christina Owens for her paper “Traveling Yellow Peril and Other Miseries of Neoliberal Globalization.”

The 2015 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize
Chair: Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Pomona College
Ricardo L. Ortíz, Georgetown University
Steven Salaita, American University of Beruit (Lebanon)

The Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize was established in 2002 and is awarded annually for the best-published first book in American Studies that highlights the intersections of race with gender, class, sexuality and/or nation. 

The 2015 winner is Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke University Press).

Finalist mention goes to: Elizabeth Anker, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom (Duke University Press); Brian Hochman, Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technology (University of Minnesota Press); and Vincent Woodard, ‎Justin A. Joyce, ‎and Dwight A. McBride, The Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism Within US Slave Culture (New York University Press).

The 2015 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize
Chair: Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth College
Eric Lott, City University of New York Graduate Center
Rinaldo Walcott, University of Toronto (Canada)

The John Hope Franklin Publication Prize was established in 1986 and has been awarded annually for the best book published in American Studies.

The 2015 prizewinner is Mireille Miller-Young for A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography (Duke University Press).

Finalist mention goes to: Anna Brickhouse, The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford University Press) and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, for New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 (Duke University Press).

The 2015 Gloria E. Anzaldua Prize

The ASA’s Committee on Gender and Sexuality Studies awards the Gloria E. Anzaldua Prize to an independent scholar and/or contingent or community college faculty member who demonstrates an affinity with Anzaldua’s oeuvre, vision, or political commitments and who addresses connections among some or all of the following categories:  race, ethnicity, citizenship, class, gender, sexuality, and dis/ability. 

The 2015 prizewinner is Santiago Andres Garcia, Rio Hondo College (CA).  Finalist mention goes to Virginia Grise, Playwright (NY).

The 2015 Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award

The ASA Minority Scholars Committee awards the Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award to honor a scholar who, like Richard Yarborough, demonstrates dedication to and excellence in mentoring underrepresented faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and/or college, university or high school students.

The 2015 prizewinner is Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University (NC).  According to the committee, Mark has cultivated a large audience that exists both within and outside of the academy, and he shares this audience with early-career (and often women of color) scholars and activists by making his social media sites, blog, and web series, Left of Black, a platform for their work.

The 2015 Angela Y. Davis Prize
Chair:  Mary Helen Washington, University of Maryland, College Park
Michelle Mitchell, New York University
David Roediger, University of Kansas
Sonia Saldivar-Hull, University of Texas, San Antonio

The Angela Y. Davis Award for Public Scholarship recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for the “public good.” This includes work that explicitly aims to educate the lay public, influence policies, or in other ways seeks to address inequalities in imaginative, practical, and applicable forms.

The 2015 prizewinner is Robin Davis Gibran Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles (CA). The committee noted: “The spirit, passion, exactitude, fight, and imagination that characterizes Robin’s work and his person has made him a uniquely powerful resource for scholars, activists, and artists around the world, educating and influencing a broad public about structural inequality and the power of radical collectivity.”

The 2015 Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize
Chair: Michael Cowan, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Janice A. Radway, Northwestern University

The Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize honors lifetime achievement in and contribution to the field of American Studies. Each year’s prize committee is instructed to consider afresh the meaning of a “lifetime contribution to American Studies.” The definitions of terms like “contribution” and even of “American Studies” remain open, healthily contested, and thus renewed. 

The 2015 prizewinner is Mary Helen Washington, University of Maryland, College Park (MD). “Mary Helen embodies the very best of the ASA - a sustained body of critical and impactful scholarship, a life of service to colleagues, students, and community, and an enduring commitment to social justice and equality,” the committee said.

The 2015 Mary C. Turpie Prize

Chair: Lucy Maddox, Georgetown University
Bruce Burgett, University of Washington, Bothell
Mark Metzler Sawin, Eastern Mennonite University

Annually, the American Studies Association gives the Mary C. Turpie Prize, established in 1993, to a person who has demonstrated outstanding abilities and achievement in American Studies teaching, advising, and program development at the local or regional level.

There is no award for calendar year 2015.

The Reproduction of Misery and the Ways of Resistance

The theme of this year’s annual meeting, “The Reproduction of Misery and the Ways of Resistance,” provided ASA members multiple paths for proposing panels and papers and engaging in the work of the Association. The submissions help to realize what we as Co-Chairs of this year’s Program Committee have seen as an especially rich opportunity to consider the systemic and ideological sources of the suffering that seems to spread more and more even as evidence of a gathering movement of change in the streets and on campuses becomes harder to ignore.

As of now, the Toronto meeting is slated to feature 1,638 participants in over 350 sessions, including 297 that were proposed as sessions and 48 that the committee created from individual paper submissions. Along with accepting the 297 sessions, the committee rejected 49, an acceptance rate of 86 per cent.  We received 344 individual paper proposals, of which we accepted 189 and turned down 155, an acceptance rate of 55 per cent. This acceptance of individual paper proposals is somewhat higher than recent years.

Though some might not imagine “misery” a contender alongside the intellectual vibrancy generated by last year’s theme of pain and pleasure, the ASA’s membership has given pleasure a run for its money. For instance, we can look forward to “The Miseries of Marriage: What Do Queers Lose When We “Win?”,” which will bring together Susan Stryker, Lisa Duggan, Chandan Reddy, and others in an up-to-the-minute assessment of how marriage law affects other queer movements and their fights for economic, racial, and social justice that transcend the politics of homonormativity.  Although so much of the discourse surrounding marriage victories focuses on narratives of progress, this panel examines what gets lost after winning marriage. 

Marking anniversaries is once again an important part of the program. Contributors to an American Studies special issue on Ralph Ellison, whose centennial was in 2014, will explore facets of his personal relationship with language, writing, notions of race, public intellectual life, and American culture writ large. James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son is fifty this year and one catalyst for the panel “American Studies and the Theoretical Legacies of James Baldwin.” This year is also the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference of Non-Aligned States in Bandung, Indonesia. The panel “Non-Aligned” focuses on Bandung as a way to theorize and strategize responses to standing forms of dispossession and empire. By the time of the annual meeting, of course, the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri will be upon us. Among other sessions and papers, we will have an advance screening of Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory, followed by a question and answer session with filmmaker Orlando de Guzman and St. Louis area attorney Brendan Roediger, who has been involved in uncovering much of the evidence used in making the documentary.

We are also looking forward to some special events, including additional film screenings and a performance by Australian-Bengali comedian Aamer Rahman. A law school graduate and former political organizer, Rahman’s standup has been described by the National (Abu Dhabi) as “incisive, cutting and controversial observations about society’s ills, sprinkled with sardonic humour and pop-culture references.” A walking history tour of sites important to the Indigenous present and past, a staged reading of Lisa B. Thompson’s “Undergound,” and various arts projects are among those creative efforts that assist us in understanding and imagining beyond miserable times.

It is precisely those types of visions that motivated much of our planning for the 2015 conference. Small wonder, then, that in the collaborative space of the Program Committee meetings some equally compelling and exciting topics arose with wonderful scholars, writers, and artists agreeing to participate.  We have a panel of Canadian authors—featuring Dionne Brand, Thomas King, and Shyam Selvadurai—who will read from their work; a roundtable to engage literary scholar Lisa Lowe’s forthcoming The Intimacies of Four Continents; a number of distinguished scholars in discussion of “Misery and Resistance in the Great Recession”; and a multi-panel series on race and violence. These excavations are, for us, critically significant for the work of a transnational and vigorous American Studies practice that brings light to conditions of dispossession but also highlights the strategies of resistance and performances of solidarity that animate our histories and present.

The work of the Program Committee is among the most rewarding service available to members of the association, but it is also a lot of work and requires an intense amount of concentration and dedication. Thus, we are indebted to Jean O’Brien, Michael Innes-Jiménez, Gayatri Gopinath, Jeannette Eileen Jones, Christina Sharpe, Jason Ruiz, and Nadine Suleiman Naber. We additionally thank site committee coordinator Katherine McKittrick and her team of volunteers. No program committee could hope to complete its work without the expertise of ASA Executive Director John Stephens, as well as Ilyas Abukar, who works with John in the national office. We are both delighted and grateful to Dave Roediger for the honor of entrusting us with this responsibility. Lastly, we appreciate the vibrancy of the ASA’s membership, your innovative ideas, and the renewed hope you have brought to us through your submissions.

See you in Toronto!

Jennifer Pierce (co-chair), University of Minnesota
Shana L. Redmond (co-chair), University of Southern California
Robert Warrior (co-chair), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

View the Online Program
Program Book for the 2015 Annual Meeting
Register here to begin an ASA membership and for the annual meeting.
General Information
Exploring Toronto
Visiting Canada

White Papers for American Studies Programs, Departments, and Centers

Media Contact: John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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The American Studies Association is pleased to announce the online publication of a series of white papers on the following topics.

What is American Studies?

The Nature and Meaning of Research in American Studies

Some Best Practices for Recruiting Students to American Studies Programs

Some Thoughts on Creating Goals and Outcomes for American Studies Programs

How to Position American Studies as Vital to Your Institution of Higher Education

Strategies for Programs, Departments, and Centers under The Threat of Budget Cuts

Writing Mission Statements for American Studies Departments and Programs

We encourage chairs, program heads, directors and coordinators to make use of these white papers as part of the important work to create, understand, articulate, position and sustain American Studies within the current landscape of higher education in the US and globally. The papers are designed to meet the needs of programs with undergraduate and graduate students alike and in the context of not only major courses of study but concentrations and minors as well.

Additional Resources

Guide for Reviewing American Studies Programs
FAQS: Applying to American Studies Graduate Programs
Statement on Standards in Graduate Education

Academic Freedom

AAUP Censures* the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Southern Maine (June 13, 2015).

Scholarly Associations Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin (June 11, 2015)

AAUP formally recommends censure of the University of Illinois for its handling of the Steven Salaita case. (May 2015)

AAUP formally condemns the University of Southern Maine for eliminating multiple academic programs, including American and New England Studies, without consulting the faculty (May 2015)

*Censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.

American Studies Association Executive Committee Demands Washington Redskins Change Their Name

May 2, 2015

Media Contact:
John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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The American Studies Association (ASA) joins the American Anthropological Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, the Linguistic Society of America, the Organization of American Historians, and many native organizations, institutions, and individuals in calling for the Washington Redskins to immediately change the team’s racist logo and name. The decision came by a unanimous vote of the ASA executive committee on May 2, 2015. The ASA, as a leading site of scholarship on indigeniety, on racism, on settler colonialism, and on sport, and as an organization based in Washington, D.C. deplores the continuation the harmful nickname and images associated with the team.

ASA Executive Committee Condemns So-Called “Religious Freedom Restoration” Acts

March 20, 2015

Media Contact:
John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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In response to the Georgia legislature’s consideration of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB129), the American Studies Association (ASA) is suspending its bid to hold our 2018 annual meeting in Atlanta.  Should the legislation pass, the ASA will not meet in Georgia.

Georgia’s SB 129 would allow individuals and corporations to discriminate against marginalized groups on the basis of religious beliefs.  In the name of religious freedom, this legislation would justify the refusal of services to Muslim and LGBT communities and their members. As critics have pointed out, this legislation could also be mobilized to defend those who inflict violence and abuse upon family members or community members by suggesting these actions reflect their deeply held religious beliefs.  Former Georgia attorney general Mike Bowers notes, “Obvious targets for discrimination based on a supposed burden on religious exercise are members of the LGBT community and religious minorities. But more insidiously, this legislation will allow state and local government employees to refuse services to citizens.” (Mike Bowers memorandum, quoted at http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/mike-bowers-calls-for-a-swift-death-to-georgia-religious-fre#.yl4az4MMm)

The American Studies Association (ASA) is an academic organization consisting of over 5000 members from the United States and around the world.  We are the oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history in a global context, supporting scholars, teachers, administrators, writers, critical thinkers and activists around the world. In pursuit of these goals over the decades, the ASA has evolved into one of the leading scholarly organizations known for taking action in the worlds of politics and policy to create and defend conditions for open debate and the pursuit of meaningful, engaged scholarship and teaching.  Given the ASA’s commitment to social justice, the Executive Committee of the ASA strongly condemns the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 129).

By suspending its bid to hold the 2018 annual meeting in Atlanta, the ASA also is withholding the potential infusion of $1.4 million into Georgia’s economy, the amount ASA members spend on airfare, hotels, food, and other services when attending the meeting.  We call on other professional and scholarly organizations opposed to state supported discrimination to cancel their annual meetings, and reconsider their bids to meet in the state of Georgia if SB 129 is passed and signed into law.

ASA Executive Committee Condemns the UAE’s Travel Ban on Researchers

March 20, 2015

Media Contact:
John F. Stephens, Executive Director
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The American Studies Association (ASA) Executive Committee is gravely concerned that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has recently banned entry to New York University (NYU) professor and ASA member Andrew Ross.  Professor Ross, who is a researcher and critic of the systematic abuse of migrant labor in the Emirates and other Gulf states, was prevented from boarding a flight to Abu Dhabi for supposed “security reasons.”

In opening its Abu Dhabi campus, substantially funded by the UAE government, the NYU administration assured worried faculty and students that academic freedom would be protected there.  But the ban on travel for research by an NYU professor constitutes a flagrant breach of this principle.  The ASA calls on the NYU administration and our sister academic organizations to denounce this and other government interferences in travel for research.

The ASA is an academic organization consisting of over 5000 members from the United States and around the world.  We are the oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history in a global context, supporting scholars, teachers, administrators, writers, critical thinkers and activists around the world. In pursuit of these goals over the decades, the ASA has evolved into one of the leading scholarly organizations known for taking action in the worlds of politics and policy to create and defend conditions for open debate and the pursuit of meaningful, engaged scholarship and teaching.  Given the ASA’s commitment to social justice and history of solidarity with labor, the Executive Committee of the ASA strongly condemns the UAE’s ban on travel for researchers critical of their labor practices.

AAUP:  Denial of Entry to Professor Troubling

Reflections on the Annual Meeting, November 2014

The 2014 annual meeting in Los Angeles, “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain in the Post-American Century,” was an attempt to come together around other terms, to place even the existing terms by which most of us organize ourselves and our work under the kind of pressure that would let us see how much or how little those terms are really ours. The pressure was experimental and was driven by a desire for pleasure, even in the face of the things that oppress and infuriate us, precisely because a general opening and cultivation of our capacity to please and to be pleased is what we want. We put pressure on these terms by using and, sometimes, abusing them, critically, but also with a sense of abandon and even, sometimes, with the intent to abandon them. Even unguarded usage of terms such as “we” and “ours” was encouraged if only so that they could be more brought more sharply and insistently into critical relief. If everything “we” hope for is, in some sense, grounded in an assumption of a shared generality the only way to protect that ground is by digging into it, investigating as furiously as possible the very foundations and possibility of “our” collectivity.

There could have been no more appropriate place than Los Angeles, which bears the historical traces of U.S. imperial expansion and new internationalization marked as much by the transgression as by the proliferation of borders, to explore the production of desire, the experience of abundance and deprivation, the affective, discursive and material structures subtending both oppression and the joy and pain that attend the resistance to oppression. “The Fun and the Fury” was a vast collective experiment in new forms and modalities of collective study and Los Angeles was the laboratory for analyzing and experiencing the constant disruptions and innovations of the striated totality of American social, political, economic and cultural life. Rather than L.A. standing for all that is inimical to the making and dispersal of casual, random and intense sociality, L.A. was in fact a space that upheld the communities that formed under the various conference headings and created more. ASA this year was home to theater productions, conventional panels, rants, raves, elegies and soliloquies. People rose to the challenge, took the bait, drank and made merry.

The conference organizers and, especially, the site-resource committee forged lines of dispersal throughout the city, making contact with Los Angeles’ diverse range of artistic, activist and intellectual communities, while inside the Bonaventure Hotel itself new structures of academic and counter-academic address were conceived and attempted, some renewing the most basic forms of good old fashioned social contact, others taking full, and hopefully subversive advantage of new technological capacities to gather virtually, all in the interest of forging a range of new orientations within that famously disorienting space.

In the production and performance of “soap-box manifestos,” in the murder and resuscitation of key words, in a Presidential Address that made use of a “silly archive” and put queer feelings front and center, in a proliferation of non-traditional presentations that aggressively attempted to blur the lines between panelists and audience, the conference was bent on refreshing our collectivity by putting pressure on the assumptions that undergird it. This was especially emphatic and appropriate at the culmination of a year that had brought grossly premature pronouncements of the death of the ASA in the wake of its decision, after spirited debate at the 2013 annual meeting in Washington D.C., to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions complicit in the occupation of Palestine. Last year’s conference continued that debate with a series of panels featuring scholars from all over the world addressing the global history of colonial practice and attempting to refine and extend anti-colonial theory and activism.

If controversy over the proper place and modality of academic activism constituted a major part of what animated the 2014 annual meeting, mourning the loss of José Esteban Muñoz and celebrating his life and brilliance were also essential to what animated the conference. As Lisa Duggan eloquently put it in her presidential address, “The fun and the fury of mourning José, celebrating his work and each other as well as raging at mortality, did come to overlap with the fun and the fury of responding to both the enormous joy that created the boycott vote, as well as with the considerable dissent and rage over that vote in multiple arenas.” Despite his untimely passing in December 2013, Muñoz was the conference’s presiding spirit. There is no more auspicious meeting of fun and fury than in his body of work. Muñoz was co-chair of the planning committee for this conference and his brilliant enthusiasm and ideas, as well as all the rich lessons in innovative intellectual practice gleaned from ASA annual meetings over the past two decades were the impetus for a range of attempts to form a different kind of atmosphere, one built on his firm belief that “‘our current situation is not enough, that something is indeed missing and we cannot live without it’” (qtd. in Lisa Duggan, Presidential Address).

—-Fred Moten, Jack Halberstam, Sandra K. Soto

American Studies Journals: A Directory of Worldwide Resources


This website provides scholars with a one-stop shop for the latest research published in American studies journals throughout the world. Organized by the International Initiative of the American Studies Association and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this site is the outcome of a collaboration between numerous journal editors around the world.

FAQS: Applying to American Studies Graduate Programs

Prepared by the Graduate Education Committee, ASA
November 2012
Download Grad Ed FAQs.pdf
Statement on Standards in Graduate Education

How should I prepare for graduate work in American Studies?

An undergraduate degree in American Studies is probably the best preparation for graduate study since it builds the foundation for the interdisciplinary research and analysis required to complete a Master’s or Ph.D. degree.  But many undergraduates don’t have the opportunity to major in American Studies and others discover an interdisciplinary approach only later in their undergraduate studies.  Students who major in more traditional disciplines—literature, history, the social sciences, even the natural sciences—often have the opportunity to take courses outside their major as electives which can improve their interdisciplinary range and strengthen their application to American Studies graduate programs. Students who come to American Studies from the social or natural sciences, or from a humanities field with a non-Americanist focus, can bring fresh perspectives and useful skills. These students find it useful to gain a background in U.S. history on their own (or as a part-time student in a graduate program where they can take one course) before starting graduate-level work in American Studies.

What is the best American Studies graduate program for me?

You should weigh factors such as faculty, professional goals, quality of program, funding opportunities, and geography in choosing where to apply. Applicants should first research American Studies programs to determine which programs have faculty who work specifically in the areas of research that most interest them.  In the course of this research, an applicant should try to contact faculty members who share his/her research interests to find out if they currently advise graduate students and to ask more specific questions about their department.  Applicants need to find programs that best suit their intellectual interests and this is best determined through direct communication with faculty.  While it is crucial to enter a program where you have identified a mentor with whom to work, you shouldn’t plan your entire course of graduate study around one faculty member, as faculty do not always stay at one university throughout their career. Therefore, students should find a program in which there are several faculty members with whom they could potentially study. If applicants are geographically restricted in where they can apply, they will need to determine which programs in their area have faculty available to mentor their work, communicating with faculty to see how flexible they can be in advising students outside their specific research areas.  Many department websites have lists of current students and their research interests. Contacting students who are currently enrolled, or recent graduates, is an excellent way to gauge the suitability of the program for your individual interests.  Faculty and departmental representatives will be able to provide you with contact information.

Applicants should also consider which programs best suit their professional goals.  For example, some American Studies programs are strong in placing their graduate students in jobs in public history or archival work, while other programs are known for helping students find tenure-track teaching jobs and/or others focus on an activist, engaged scholarship.  Some programs have special strength in African American studies, whereas others have a concentration of specialists on the Asia-Pacific region and so forth.

The amount and types of funding available for graduate students has a major impact on the time to completion of the degree as well as to the range of teaching and research experiences one will gain while in graduate school. It is important to find out what kind of funding (e.g. teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships, tuition waivers) are available in the program of one’s interest.  We think teaching experience is important preparation for all graduate students, no matter their career plans, but too much teaching takes time away from research and writing.

Most graduate programs designate one faculty member to advise graduate students and/or speak with prospective students.  You can find this person’s contact information on the website or by phoning or emailing the department office.  You should be in touch with this faculty member as well to insure that your interests can be served by the program, to receive suggestions on your application, and to understand the available financial aid and how to apply for it.

Do I need a Masters degree in American Studies before applying to a doctoral program?

Many applicants apply to doctoral study directly from undergraduate work—especially if they have already earned a B.A. degree in American Studies.  Nevertheless, if a student applies without much previous background in interdisciplinary study, it can be useful to start with a Master’s program to explore the field of American Studies before making the commitment to doctoral study.  Earning an M.A. in American Studies may also be useful to enhance one’s application for, and acceptance into, doctoral programs. 

What makes an effective personal statement?

Applicants should describe the academic and other relevant backgrounds that have prepared them for graduate-level work in American Studies.  A strong personal statement in an American Studies application offers a concise description of the applicants’ research interests and goals with a particular emphasis on why the interdisciplinary approach of American Studies is the most effective way to pursue those interests and goals. In addition, applicants should make a clear case for why the particular program they are applying to best suits their goals.  You should avoid digressions into personal biography, unless there is an appropriate intellectual reason to do so.  For instance, a formative experience might be a helpful introduction to your interests, but anecdotal material must have a clear purpose such as helping explain one’s intellectual development.  Applicants to doctoral programs need not have a dissertation topic drafted for a personal statement, but they should be able to lucidly describe their general interests and specific fields/subfields, theoretical frameworks, methodologies, scholars, or books that have influenced their intellectual development and interest in American Studies.

What kind of writing sample should I submit?

An effective writing sample for American Studies would be a research paper (15-20 pages in length) that had both a clear argument and provided evidence of the applicant’s ability to do primary and secondary research.  Papers that incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to research would also be helpful, but are not required.  Depending on the work you have done, and want to do, a shorter piece of writing aimed at a more general audience might also be appropriate.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Recommendations from faculty with whom you have taken a class and who know you personally are most helpful.  In general, letters from employers or friends are not as effective because they often don’t adequately assess an applicant’s abilities as a researcher or writer.

How important are the GRE scores?

Many programs require applicants to submit their GRE scores and how the scores are weighed in the overall application varies from program to program.  Higher scores are certainly better than lower scores; however, in general American Studies programs do not see the GRE scores as the most important factor in the application package. The personal statement, writing sample, recommendation letters, and previous academic records read together can go a long way in making up for lower GRE scores.

For international students, many programs see TOEFL scores as a replacement for GRE scores. Good TOEFL scores not only increase the chances of admission but the language ability they measure is also necessary for actually doing graduate work in American Studies.

What kind of jobs do graduate students in American Studies get after graduation?

Graduate students in American Studies can go into a variety of fields, but most are interested in teaching jobs or museum work.  They can also be competitive for jobs at historical societies, archives, state and federal humanities and cultural resource agencies as well as community cultural development organizations.

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