Call for Proposals: Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World (2023)  

Due October 7, 2022

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 (United States citizen or permanent resident of the United States). You may apply and be considered as long as you primarily live and work in the United States.

We plan to select two ASA delegates (dependent upon continued funding from JUSFC) for participation in the annual JAAS conference to be held in May–June 2023 in Japan. 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 first year of our newest proposal for scholarly exchanges between the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japan Association for American Studies (JAAS) covering the three-year project period, 2023-2025.

The scholarly theme proposed for the three-year cycle by the project advisory committee is “Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World.” We are building on the previous three-year project, which highlighted the centrality of transnationalism to our conceptualization of American Studies. Our field has been the site of tremendous transformation in the previous decades; when former ASA President Amy Kaplan published Cultures of United States Imperialism in 1993, she lamented three notable absences: “the absence of culture from the history of US imperialism; the absence of empire from the study of American culture; and the absence of the United States from the postcolonial study of imperialism.” Since that time, American Studies has been at the forefront of scholarly fields working to reimagine America’s past, present, and future as contested, dynamic, and always ripe for interpretation. Drawing on the lenses of postcolonial, anti-racist, and queer critique, our field(s) have challenged many of the normative and enduring assumptions about American identity and its place in the world; scholarship on transnational capitalism, settler colonialism, the slave trade, immigration and international migration, and war has challenged the singularity of the US and unpacked enduring ideological persuasiveness of “America” as an ideal. The scholarly theme, “Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World” aims to extend this work by taking stock of how much has changed, and what has stayed the same, in the past few years. It addresses two of the most pressing issues faced by American Studies today: first, understanding how the rise of new nationalisms, white supremacy, and anti-immigrant sentiment has moved the United States away from claiming a “lone superpower” status toward rejecting particular tenets of globalization and reinvesting in a “America first” protectionism, and second, coming to terms with the environmental crisis presented by climate change and humanitarian disasters of both natural and human making.
With this three-year grant proposal, we elicit emerging American Studies scholarship that illuminates the place of the United States in the world and highlights how the present reflects the emergence of new threats to democracy, humanity, citizenship, global health, and the environment, as well as marks the revivification of racisms, nationalisms, normativities, and exclusions that have long and complex historical roots.
In a historical moment marked by trade wars, protectionism, anti-immigrant sentiment, climate change, and increasingly vocal hostilities to the ideals of pluralism and inclusion, how can scholars address what is familiar and what is new about these hostilities and forms of violence? How have writers, artists, and activists envisioned alternative possibilities, and in what contexts can they be realized? How have citizens and migrants (documented and undocumented) both claimed America and critiqued it? In what ways have new technologies become both the tools of state surveillance and the means of global connectivity and creativity? How is renewed nationalism in the US related to reinvigorated nationalist and xenophobic movements around the globe, and what explains their emergence? How do US militarism, foreign policy, and economic interests elicit and respond to a rising China, growing Russian ambitions, refugee crises, and global health emergencies? How have fields like queer studies, Indigenous studies and critical ethnic studies been at the forefront of defining new and important ways to think about an America in crisis? What opportunities for radical transformation present themselves in the context of destruction and despair?

Transnational Contact and Human Mobility (2023):
The first year of the three-year cycle aims to consider the global conditions of mobility that shape American Studies and the world we analyze. Mobility and contact not only engages the variety of forces behind human migration (e.g. seasonal work, political and religious persecution, upward mobility, human trafficking, etc.), but also human interaction through the circulation of goods, exchange of ideas, and new technologies. The reemergence of autocratic rhetoric combined with state-run surveillance limit the potential of such exchanges and circulations and especially the possibility of increasing inclusion and global awareness. We are particularly interested in the tension between resurgent and new nationalisms and protectionism on the one hand, and unprecedented flows of contact in the face of political instability, environmental degradation, and new technologies on the other. Of course, the spectrum of attitudes and practices that inhibit the movement of peoples and exchange of goods and ideas has a long history in the United States; however, the breadth and scale of these interactions through twenty-first-century technological advances along with nationalist, xenophobic, and racist responses distinguishes, although does not separate, our present and future from the past.  

Additionally, we are looking for scholars engaged in the relationship between mobility (human, ideas, and/or goods), technology, and shifts in power on a global scale and the ways in which they impact the United States. How have recent global economic shifts transformed patterns of migration and increased the number of people living precariously around the world? How has technology been a driver of increasing global inequality, a force for transnational contact and community organizing, and an enabler of enhanced tracking and surveillance? How has the rise of China and India reorganized the movements of people, capital, goods, and ideas around the world, away from Atlantic or Global North-South orientations? What have we learned from recent epidemiological crises (SARS, MERS, Zika, Ebola, COVID-19, MPX) about the changing patterns of human mobility, corresponding effects on the environment, and the rise of dangerous viral transmissions? What have recent epidemics/pandemics revealed about the increased tempo and changing routes of human mobility, and what has it disrupted and/or laid bare about the ordinary patterns of daily life, as well as the role of supranational organizations (like the World Health Organization), nations, states, and cities, that had previously been taken for granted?

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 2023 conference theme, Transnational Contact and Human Mobility. 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 publications and teaching experience and the names and addresses of three references. All applicants must be available to travel for a weeklong period to Japan in May-June 2023; exact dates required for travel will be forthcoming.  The applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and live and work professionally in the United States. The applicant must also be a current member of the ASA 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 submitted as a Word or PDF document in a single attachment before midnight on October 7, 2022.  Applications should be emailed to  

Post date: August 30, 2022

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