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Monday, December 5, 2016



Theme: Indigenous Studies, Ethnic Studies, Queer Studies, and Feminist Studies Genealogies in American Studies

Presented by First Year American Studies PhD Cohort
(in Historical Foundations Graduate Seminar with Professor Kale B. Fajardo)

Date: Monday, December 12, 2016
Time: 1:30-3:45pm/
Location: Scott Commons
Format: Brief introduction by Kale B. Fajardo, followed by 8 7-minute papers or presentations w/ lots of time for Q and A and conversation. Scholars will present their papers in (first name) alphabetical order. Hot cocoa/tea and cookies will be served.

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1. Agleska Cohen-Rencountre, “This is Treaties Not Chess” (Abstract)
 This paper will discuss ideas related to knowledge production, censorship, and states of incarceration. By making critical comparisons between boarding schools and prisons in the United States. In addition to thinking through these connections with a battle cry, ‘Treaty into infinity!’ this work will start with a brief inquiry into ways of knowing related to treaties, and reflecting on how interpretations of them continue to influence the project of modernity. Highlighting how treaties have persisted as legal and binding contracts between nations in spite of the perception of their inherent brokenness and their disappearing/reappearing status in public perception(s). Followed by investigations of how Industrial Surveys and best practices of textbook are sites of knowledge production intended to shape public perception(s). I will discuss how these institutional mechanisms have undermined public awareness through censorship. Comparing sites of incarceration centers Native exile diasporas. In conclusion this work looks at how boarding schools and prisons are used as sites of state terror earmarked in part by institutional censorship. The following works have inspired this studies perspective: “Indian Subjects Hemispheric Perspective on the History of Indigenous Education” Edited by Brenda Child and Brian Klopotek, “Writing Indian Nations Native Intellectuals and the Politics of Historiography, 1827-1863” by Maureen Konkle, editions of "Studies in American Indian Literatures" and Michel Foucault's “Discipline and Punish: Panopticism”.

2. Amanda Lugo, “Superman es Illegal” (Abstract)
 On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. The election of a reality TV star whose campaign promised to build a wall along the US/Mexican border, end sanctuary cities, and establish a ban on Muslims entering the country is an example of how the American identity has fundamentally been a model of traditional hegemonic values and heteronormative white male supremacy. However, what happens when Superman, America’s first superhero, the defender of truth, justice, and the American way is exposed as an undocumented immigrant in the “Make America Great Again” era? This study is a dialogue between the Superman origin narrative and scholars such as Joseph Nevins, Mae Ngai, and Leo Chavez that creates an original genealogy that intersects American Studies, Latinx Studies, and comic books. By critically analyzing the two most recent Superman films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in addition to providing a historical analysis of the recruitment and animosity of Latinx immigrants through political labor movements such as the Bracero Program, Operation Wetback, and Operation Gatekeeper, this study is a timely interdisciplinary intervention that strives to challenge and redefine what the term American means in our current political climate.

3. Robert (Bobby) Humphrey, “Moving Toward an Increased Visibility of Black, Gay Fathers” (Abstract)
 Being of both a racial and sexual minority, Black, gay fathers have been socially marginalized and greatly underrepresented. My project aims to bring attention to this group of people. This essay will focus primarily on one example—Kordale and Kaleb Lewis, Black, gay fathers who became popular on social media after posting a photograph of their family. I discuss the societal reactions to this couple and potential reasons for the reactions they received.  And, because of the nature of the photograph (the two fathers were bare-chested), it allows for analysis of the body as text, specifically the Black, gay male body.  But, due to the lack of academic and social attention, broadly, to Black, gay fathers, I position my project in the historical context of Black fathers and the Black family, and how issues surrounding those groups impact Black, gay fathers as a means of providing a foundation to this research.  Some of the critical texts that will inform this research are: Aberrations in Black (Roderick Ferguson), The Black Family: Essays and Studies (Robert Staples), and Scripting the Black Masculine Body (Ronald L. Jackson II).

4. Hana Muruyama, “Reading the Residues of Settler Colonialism in Japanese American Incarceration” (Abstract)

In Carceral States, a recent issue of the Amerasia Journal, Editors Karen Leong and Myla Vicenti Carpio state that, “The only way to accurately theorize one’s ‘place’ is by acknowledging that this place has been stolen.” In this vein, I read Japanese American incarceration sites “against the grain” as residual traces of settler colonialism. I argue that we can read Japanese American incarceration as part of the narrative of settler colonialism and that doing so enables us to see how the government’s selection of land and its goals for Japanese American incarceration fit into a pattern of the displacement and erasures of Native peoples. I go on to examine how the ways in which Japanese American incarceration history has been told may also perpetuate settler colonialism. This approach is significant for Asian American and American Indian Studies because, too often, we read these histories as parallel to one another. This shows how they overlap and intersect in important ways that influence each other.

5. Kai Pyle, “Building Community/Memory: A Partial Genealogy of Native Feminist Critiques” (Abstract)

Despite a history of Native and women of color feminism that emerged in the 1980s, in the 1990s and early 2000s many Native women argued that feminism was a white movement that distracted from the fight for tribal sovereignty. As Native feminists began to organize and develop scholarly relationships with one another in the 2000s, however, they argued in response that sovereignty movements alone are not enough to solve the problems Native women face, and that gender and race must be viewed as linked and non-hierarchically. They also charged that previous authors had ignored the history of Native and women of color feminist writers and activists. This paper argues that 21st century Native feminist scholarship emerged out of ties built between Native feminists and their insistence on drawing upon the history of Native and women of color feminism. Their development of a Native feminist critique, or rather a multiplicity of Native feminist critiques, challenges American Studies to deconstruct the gendered settler colonial nature of the United States and to recognize the violence that it perpetrates on Native communities, Native lands, and Native women in particular. Examining the origins and arguments of Native feminisms is essential for transforming the field’s understanding of what it means to study America on indigenous land.

6. Kidiocus Carroll, “American Studies and Black Scholarship on Slavery and Reconstruction,” (Abstract)

In her 1997 presidential address to the American Studies Association, Mary Helen Washington asks: “What happens to American Studies if you put African American Studies at the center?” Washington argues that the African Americanist tradition has always been radical in its critique of institutions, but the Americanist tradition, despite its leftist beginnings, has not been a radical space because of the dearth of institutional critique, the focus on the myth and symbol school of thought, and the lack of space for ethnic studies within the discipline. In answering Washington’s call to action, I examine the work of three early African Americanist scholars whose work can be considered American Studies adjacent; W.E.B DuBois, John Hope Franklin, and Margaret Walker. Through a historiography of DuBois’ Black Reconstruction in America, Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom, and Walker’s Jubilee, I argue that while their scholarship on slavery and reconstruction in the United States has not been canonical in American Studies, they should be considered foundational texts in an understanding of the roots of the Americanist intellectual tradition.

7. Mary Marchan, “Thinking Through the Family in Queer Theory and Queer of Color Critique” (Abstract)

As the mainstream queer community has been increasingly successful in gaining As the mainstream queer community has been increasingly successful in gaining recognition and rights in their claims to full citizenship in the United States, queerness can no longer be considered the antithesis of normativity. This politics of inclusion is what Lisa Duggan calls ‘homonormativity’, a queer liberal politics that supports and maintains hegemony. Alongside this liberal politics, however, queer theory has developed incisive
critiques of such assimilationist efforts, many critiques focusing on the notion of family and kinship. As part of these critiques, queer theory often conceptualizes family as reproducing hegemony and as the polar opposite of queer futurity. However, in many U.S. communities of color, family networks are integral to material and cultural survival. Considering the tensions between queer theory and family, I examine key texts that have contributed to queer theory’s “anti-social thesis” against queer of color critique to think through “the family” at the intersection of race and sexuality.

8. Meaghan Forbis-Anderson, “Young/Scrappy/Hungry: Race and Discourses of Nation-Building in American Studies” (Abstract)

One of the more famous lines in Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton comes near the close of Act I, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Hamilton and Lafayette are getting ready for the Battle of Yorktown, and share the line, “Immigrants/We get the job done.” It’s  followed by two full bars of rest, purely to accommodate the “delighted” response of the audience; on more than one occasion, the line has been followed by a standing O. It’s true that Lafayette and Hamilton are both technically “immigrants,” and the sentiment of the line is in direct response to contemporary anti-immigrant sentiment. But what’s “the job”? What work are Hamilton and Lafayette doing in this moment? The answer comes a few bars later, as Hamilton soliloquies: “We gotta go, gotta get the job done/ Gotta start a new nation, gotta meet my son!” One of the central projects of Hamilton is nation-building—both by characters such as Hamilton and Lafayette, and also by the show itself, crafting “a story about America then, told by America now.” Using Hamilton as a central object, I will examine how discourses of nation-building, both in popular culture and in American studies scholarship, often fail to engage critical race and ethnic studies, even while championing diversity and difference. Particularly, the absence of indigeneity and inattention to women of color feminisms in Hamilton and in narratives of American nationhood are reflective of not only conflicts within American Studies as a discipline but of dangerous trends in contemporary politics.