Live Human Exhibits: The World Columbian Exposition as a Space of Empire

A theatricalised space that prompts visitors to immerse themselves into spectacles of what was construed as racial otherness, while acknowledging notions of Western cultural superiority and investing in public approval of US imperial efforts abroad—that was the fundamental idea underlying the Midway Plaisance, an amusement park committed to displaying human… Continue reading

Playing With, Not Against, Empires: Video Games and (Post)Colonialism

Video games can be understood as a medium characterized by remediation and convergence: they often take elements from other media, adapt them to their medial specifics, and add their own unique aspects, thus creating new, playable versions of cultural material. Such adaptations apply to certain plot elements, character archetypes, or… Continue reading

“They Need Us and They Want Us”—Erecting the Empire in the Vietnam War

In the view of the late Amy Kaplan, the practice of US imperialism is denied and projected onto other nations in the discourse of American culture studies (13). Whereas the research in this field only marginally engages with the idea of the US being an imperial force, a cursory look… Continue reading

American Catholicism and Empire: A Review Essay

The rise of Catholicism in the United States has been examined for the most part in relation to the expansion of the US empire. Early studies focus especially on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Only recently have the first arduous steps been taken in understanding the complex transformation of Protestantism and Catholicism in the US from the late seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Continue reading

“Eternal Confusions in Another World”: American Captives and Imperial Vulnerability in Algiers

“We are Distressed for you, O our BRETHREN, We are Distressed for you!” (3) Puritan minister Cotton Mather thunders in the opening of his “Pastoral Letter to the English Captives, in Africa” (1698). The letter addresses American captives in North Africa,[1] but Mather’s concern for their personal safety is only… Continue reading

A Brief Consideration of the American Empire Through Modern and Contemporary Poetry

  For centuries, one of the roles of the poet has been as oracle, acting as witness, interpreter and seer about societies and individuals. Poetry serves to illuminate, even if—especially if—the truths unveiled reflect the shadowed soul of a people. Contemporary American poetry offers ample examples of the frictions and… Continue reading

Keeping Disaster at Bay: Securing the Climate Threat in “America’s Mediterranean”

The contours of what we refer to as the Caribbean have been indelibly shaped by US empire: fault-lines inscribed in the landscape, as in the Panama Canal; in more classically colonial articulations as US commonwealths; a reach extended through bases, bananas and business. Adopting the analytical lens of ‘securityscape’, I… Continue reading

Spaces of Empire: Two Early Modern Views from both sides of the Atlantic


In order to understand the relationship between empire and space in American history, it is necessary to address the historiographical tendencies and myths of the past four hundred years.[i] Retrospective historiographical myths of the nascent United States, as it sought to establish its own history in the shadow of the… Continue reading

The Un/Incorporated, Continental, Overseas, Global States of America: The Grammar of Jurisdictional Incongruence in US Imperialism

The notion of the United States as a (and eventually the sole) global power of the 20th and 21st century is a shorthand that seeks to reconcile the United States’ self-fashioned identity as an alleged vanguard of democracy, a proliferator of universal human rights, and an exceptional nation of liberty… Continue reading