While the date for conference proposals was many months ago, we thought it might be important to post a reminder of the upcoming annual meeting of the ASA in Atlanta. While the online program is not yet available, this is the original call for papers. For more information, visit the ASA website at: https://www.theasa.net/annual-meeting/years-meeting

States of Emergence

From drone strikes in Yemen to white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, emergency and crisis are constant facts of life in the United States and in the world. The theme for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Studies Association, “States of Emergence,” emphasizes that our sense of crisis must be thought alongside our constant commitment to challenging the calamities that beset us and to producing alternative—indeed better—worlds. The theme is partly taken from Homi Bhabha’s 1986 foreward to Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. In a reading of Walter Benjamin’s famous theorization that the tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule,” Bhabha added, “And the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.” In our extension of Bhabha’s suggestion, we seek to underline the plural nature of those emergences and to question what emergence means in the contemporary context.

In doing so, we invoke the various inspirations from the global north and the global south that have occasioned American Studies scholarship and its critical interventions for the last twenty years. Colleagues within the association have turned their attention as teachers and as scholars to the workings of settler and franchise colonialism, neocolonialism, militarization, heteropatriarchy, ableism, and labor exploitation to practically every region on the globe, from the early American and colonial periods to the present day. Part of this effort has meant that our members have also tried to detail the ways in which everyday people—in the words of Cedric Robinson—engaged in the “recovery of human life from the spoilage of degradation.”

That degradation is one of the devastating characteristics of modern life. In 1958, the sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote, “the history of modern society may readily be understood as the story of the enlargement and the centralization of the means of power—in economic, in political, and in military institutions.” Perhaps more today than ever, we are witnessing that enlargement and centralization not only in the U.S. but in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At the same time, that enlargement and centralization have been met with political, intellectual, and cultural productions that are brilliantly revising and overturning received paradigms. As the world has become a battlefield, so too has it become a site of protest, critique, and dissent.