How to make American Studies Association more inclusive? Mary Helen Washington’s suggestions

Mary Helen Washington, in her inaugural address as the newly elected president of the American Studies Association (ASA) in 1997, advocated for the institutional change in ASA by asking a question to her colleagues and scholars. Her question, “What happens to American Studies if you put African American studies at the center?” draws the attention towards the historical marginalization of African American cultural perspectives in traditional American Studies discipline. Her address entitled “Disturbing the Peace” calls for the increased collaborations between the African American Studies and American Studies to reconstruct American Studies institutionally and structurally. Thus, the peace Mary Helen Washington intend to disturb is very simple. Washington, in her… Read More

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Why calling America an Empire is not Helpful

Amy Kaplan, in her 2003 Presidential address to the American Studies Association, suggests American Studies scholars to think more creatively and critically about what they mean by internationalizing the field of American Studies instead of calling America imperial. Though it is fashionable to say America an empire, Kaplan argues that the fashion to say America an empire is not helpful. In one hand, the United States shuts itself off for the world it seeks to control. Thus naming the empire has the potential to put American Studies scholars in conversation with critics around the world. As a result, it may help make the contours of U.S. power more visible. On the… Read More

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