American Studies Association of Turkey (ASAT)
40th International American Studies Conference
Movement and Mobility in America
June 28-29, 2021
Movement and mobility lie at the core of American society. Whether through immigration, internal migration, social mobility, or domestic and global expansionism, the United States has always been defined as a nation of frontiers and pioneers, a country that is constantly (re)defining itself, where self-(re)invention is part of the American dream. Movement and mobility in the American context can also be physical, sociological, psychological, or political, as in the case of mobilizing for racial justice, such as with the Black Lives Matter movement that is sweeping the nation.
The Trump Administration has prompted a reevaluation of movement and mobility across the political spectrum. While some argue that this has stimulated a visible resurgence in activism and a revival of social movements in the United States, others have seized the moment to express that this so-called “new wave” of protest is not so new at all, and is part of a long continuum of public engagement that originated during the colonial era.
From protests against the Stamp Act, Tea Act, and Townshend Duties in the eighteenth century; to the abolitionist, and women’s and workers’ rights movements of the nineteenth century; to the peace, civil rights, free speech, and anti-nuclear activism of the twentieth century; to the use of social media as an organizing platform in the twenty-first century, Americans have defined, and have been defined by, movement and mobility, using it to counter injustice by voicing their opinions and taking to the streets. As US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg expressed, “Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”—a dictum that Americans have been following for over three centuries.