GROUNDED ENGAGEMENTS IN AMERICAN STUDIES
2024 Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association
November 14-17, 2024 | Baltimore, Maryland
Submissions close February 12, 2024.
The 2024 Annual Meeting will feature papers and work that examine the ASA from the ground of community engagement and research. Grounded engagement eats at the kitchen table, rests in nested sovereignties, manifests in home rules, and envisions liberations. It is a fertile place to think through our relationships in, between, and beyond the campus. In examining the intimacies and power of place, we confront settler and racialized structures globally, working towards mapping new strategies that lead to just worlds. By its nature—studying the power structures in the Americas, American Imperialism abroad, and its force worldwide—American Studies is local and global with interconnected and fluid scales. In examining grounded engagements not as discrete bounded places but rather as interconnected, we increase the potential to examine and move beyond enforced borders, dystopian policies, state violence, and capitalist networks as well as buzzwords that never quite deliver: decolonization, democracy, DEI, and multiculturalism. This call for papers is meant to provide a framework for exploring specific grounded engagements that move beyond extractive research and the explorations of our interconnections in the world that do not flatten the needs of communities. These are not easy conversations, yet one of the primary strengths of American Studies is that it does not shy away from difficult discussions.
This year, we will examine collaborative partnerships with artists, activists, teachers, scholars, archivists, and visionaries who have long been part of grounding the engagements of American Studies. As a disciplinary home, the ASA is a fertile ground to address social justice issues and community-based work. Our students and our colleagues in American Studies have worked hard over the years to make spaces that connect our learning and teaching to the needs of communities, and a focus on these strategies is needed now more than ever. The proliferation of community-engaged work in academia coincides with attempts to make itself legible to the public in response to increasing costs. What are some of the difficulties we need to address concerning unjust access to education and status and privilege in the academy? What new questions are provoked in the field when we begin to incorporate community engagement, particularly when this work challenges the type of “traditional” scholarship that receives reward and recognition within university processes? What strategies does American Studies take on in this focus on place-based research and community engagement? How does the examination of place move us beyond the human? How might this move us above and beyond neoliberal models of diversity, equity, and inclusion paradigms and instead toward solidarity in practice? What nuances occur in identifying community-based needs? How do we define, expand, and engage community or even the concept which can be overlapping and messy? This conference will discuss and lay bare how power differentials between various spaces manifest and occur to move toward better modes of scholarly engagement. Ultimately, we work toward thinking through new trajectories in American Studies that emerge from the ground up.