The 2016 American Studies Fulbright Institute for German Scholars will take place just months before an election whose outcome will reflect, and affect the future of, several fundamental schisms in the American electorate, most of which have long and complex histories. The institute will focus on those categories of discourse and policy under particular stress, both in the U.S. and Europe: immigration and race. In the American context, these issues are deeply connected to a history of racism at the state and social level as well as the experience of slavery and Native American genocide, the conquest of large portions of Mexico and the treatment of various communities of color in this country. This legacy is highly visible in contemporary political discourse and connects to questions ranging from international terrorism to questions of citizenship, to cultural and artistic expressions of resistance as well as much political activism today.
Bringing together Bay Area scholars (from Stanford, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley and, of course, San Francisco State University, which hosts the institute) as well as community activists and artists, the institute will approach the topics of immigration and racial politics from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, both historical and contemporary in their focus. The presentations and seminar discussions will address the current "Black Lives Matter" movement (which has strong local contingents) linking it to the histories of slavery, Civil Rights, police brutality, and protest movements as well as Latina/o politics and culture in California in relationship to histories of immigration, nativism and immigrant/anti-immigrant activism, discourse and policy.
While race and immigration will be the central topics, they are of course bound up with a host of other political, cultural and economic concerns. Therefore, the seminar will also focus on new iterations of populism, both progressive (Bernie Sanders’ “socialism”) and conservative (Donald Trump’s nativism); on the transformative and unpredictable role of social media in political campaigning; on the relationship and tension between anti-racism movements and environmentalism; and on urban struggles (with San Francisco as a prime example) around gentrification. Further connections will be drawn between the local and the national, as well as between the contemporary and the historical. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to present their own related work to the group and to SFSU faculty and thus have the chance to receive and to give feedback on their research projects. Two or more days will be devoted to field trips, offering participants direct experiences with the host community, including hallmarks of American culture and society, and personal insights into daily life in the U.S.
Information regarding the application process and deadlines can be found here.
German-American Fulbright Commission
Dr. Benjamin Becker