Making America “Great”: Negotiating the Borders and Boundaries of Americanism
Saturday 19th November 2016
University of Leeds
Deadline for Abstracts: 23rd September 2016
The current US presidential election has witnessed the resurgence of a nostalgia for a past American “greatness”, defined in the popular imagination by specific boundaries and characteristics. Notably, institutional, social and economic power structures have shaped less inclusive definitions of American identity which continue to endure. Conversely, others propose that American “greatness” is characterised by the nature of always being in flux, incorporating and reshaping various identities, traditions and social norms. Whereas many other national identities are rooted in centuries of shared history, religious and cultural traditions or language, American national identity has less tangible roots and can, arguably, be characterised by a constant process of redefinition.
The constantly changing nature of what it means to be American contributes to and builds upon what is perceived to be a long tradition of rights and individualism. Importantly, the contours of these characteristics are themselves often contested and reconstructed. Groups and individuals on the periphery have historically and consistently tested the boundaries of Americanism. These efforts – political, cultural, aesthetic and others – contribute to a larger, continuous process of reconstructing borders of inclusion and exclusion.
This year’s BAAS Postgraduate Conference seeks to explore ideas and themes central to the development of American national identities. In particular, it seeks to explore moments of and efforts towards definition and redefinition of Americanism. With the eyes of the world on the USA, the upcoming election will require Americans to consider which values their next leader should embody and represent. Thus, it seems appropriate to explore the development and testing of the boundaries and borders of American identity at this time.
We welcome proposals from all fields for this interdisciplinary event.
Possible topics include:
- National identity construction and re-construction
- Americanism and un-Americanism
- Race, gender, sexuality and class
- Postcolonial perspectives on America
- Resistance and social protest
- Self-definition and ‘othering’
- National memory, countermemory and collective forgetting
- Popular culture, the American canon and innovation in the arts
- Inclusion, exclusion and borders – physical and social
- America vs. “the Americas”
- Citizenship and the state of belonging
The conference will consist mainly of traditional conference panels of twenty-minute papers, as well as dedicated PechaKucha sessions. PechaKuchas are a less traditional style of presentation that calls for 20 slides of 20 seconds each. See the conference website for examples: https://pgbaasleeds.wordpress.com
Abstracts for traditional papers should be no more than 300 words. Abstracts for PechaKuchas are also strongly encouraged, and should be a maximum of 200 words. Please submit all abstracts by midnight on the 23rd September.
For any additional information or queries, please feel free to contact the conference organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us on Twitter: @pgBAAS_Leeds