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Call for Proposals: Pacific Worlds: Empire, Environment and Embodiment (Due October 15, 2013)

The American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japanese Association for American Studies (JAAS), with support from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUFSC), are pleased to announce a competition open to ASA members (U.S. citizens). We plan to select two ASA delegates (pending funding) for participation in the annual JAAS conference to be held in Okinawa on June 7-8, 2014. We invite proposals for papers to be presented at the JAAS conference and for the two-day pro-seminars in Japan. The award covers round trip airfare to Japan, housing, and modest daily expenses.

The members of the ASA-JAAS Project Advisory Committee and the International Committee of JAAS will choose the delegates by collaborative assessment and selection. Two-day pro-seminars will be held, most likely after the JAAS conference, which will enable JAAS scholars to participate. Themes of the pro-seminars will be connected to the papers delegates present at JAAS. The ASA delegates will collaborate with the International Committee of JAAS in finalizing the format of the pro-seminars and will be responsible for participating in scholarly exchanges with JAAS members, from graduate students (including those who may not yet be JAAS members) to senior scholars.  Under the proposed project, the ASA delegates will tentatively spend two days at the JAAS conference, two days in their pro-seminars, plus travel time, for a total of about a week.

Project Theme:

This is the third year of our new proposal for scholarly exchanges between the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japan Association for American Studies (JAAS) covering the three-year project period, 2012-2014.

The scholarly theme is Pacific Worlds: Empire, Environment, Embodiment. Scholarship focused upon international and transnational relationships faces the challenge of boundary drawing. When the nation-state is no longer taken for granted as a unit of social and cultural analysis, and the globe is identified as a horizon of concern, the transnational risks becoming amorphous. Scholars of region, and particularly of the Atlantic world, have long illuminated ways of thinking transnational relations in relation to a delimited set of flows and exchanges over time that shaped a common if unevenly (and unequally) constituted social and historical experience among statesmen, sailors, slaves and commoners. More recently, scholars have started to map the Pacific world in similar ways, identifying specific paths of commerce, military conflict, colonization and migration that have defined the Pacific as a distinct place and region for policy-makers, and empire-builders, soldiers, artists and writers, peasants, workers and migrants.

We seek to consider some of the ways in which the Pacific Ocean has been constituted as a transnational region across several centuries. Most broadly, we are interested in exploring how forms of human belonging and experience might be understood in regional terms that exceed typically national, even comparative frames of reference. For example, how have competing and at times complementary forms of imperial ambition and material investment on the part of the US, Japan, and other nations fashioned the Pacific as a region of common interest, investment, desire, and (for some) dispossession?  As pressures of market activity, human energy and resource needs roil this vast, shared oceanic environment, what forms of cooperative knowledge and practice can sustain Pacific worlds (as well as other fragile ecologies) into the future? Against doom saying prophecies of a “clash of civilizations,” how can regions shaped by overlapping colonialisms and diasporas imagine new forms of regional membership, linked fate, or even kinship?

Embodiment and the Boundaries of the Human (2014). The third year of the project encourages proposals pitched at a more intimate scale in considering questions of regional belonging, membership, even citizenship within transnational domains. Interdisciplinary work on embodiment, gender, race, sexuality and the boundaries of the human has long been at the center of American Studies scholarship. New scholarship on fashion, consumption, media and music illuminates how cultural production and circulation of embodied signs and images has become increasingly central to linking “Asia” and “America.” Though these forms of circulation unfold under the aegis of capitalist exchange, they also strongly militate against closed conceptions of civilizational and cultural belonging, and frequently become the source of new and expanded conceptions of the human. Augmented by the profound technological innovations of the past decades, new information technologies amplify these effects, offering both the promise of greater connectivity, and danger of intensification of forms of mobile privatism with potential to isolate and divide individuals and communities.

Application Procedures:

Each application should include a summary in 300 words of the proposed paper to be presented at the JAAS annual meeting. Participants should explain how the proposed paper contributes to a discussion of the project theme in general, and more specifically to the 2014 conference theme Embodiment and the Boundaries of the Human.

Applicants should include a personal statement, no longer than two pages, describing their interest in this project and the issues that their own scholarship and teaching have addressed. Personal statements may include comments on previous collaboration or work with non-U.S. academics or students. Prior experience of work or travel in Japan is not a requirement for selection, but if applicable, applicants may comment on their particular interest in, or connections to, Japan. In addition, applications should include a two-page curriculum vitae, emphasizing teaching experience and publications and the names and addresses of three references.

All applicants must be available to travel for a week-long period to Japan in June 2014; exact dates required for travel will be forthcoming. Applicants must be current members of the ASA and U.S. citizens and preference will be given to candidates who are active participants of the ASA. Please explain in what capacity you have participated in ASA panels, committees, journal, etc. in your personal statement. Scholars must have a Ph.D. and preference will be given to those with teaching experience and a publication record.

Application materials should be addressed to the ASA-JAAS Project Advisory Committee and uploaded as a Word or PDF document in a single attachment before midnight (US DST) October 15, 2013 at http://www.theasa.net/submit_pdf/asa-jaas_project_proposals/. See for additional info: http://www.theasa.net/project_asa_jaas/