CFP: Barack Obama: Presidential Years, Impact and Legacy (Edited Volume)

Gökser Gökçay's picture
Call for Papers
August 1, 2017
Texas, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Contemporary History, Diplomacy and International Relations, Middle East History / Studies

CFP: Barack Obama: Presidential Years, Impact and Legacy (Edited Volume)


The conclusion of any presidential term presents an appropriate  time for assessment. We pose the question: What are legacies of the Barack Obama administrations (2009-2017)? Such assessment has already begun in the popular press: the Washington Post identified his legacy in terms of the Affordable Care Act, the climate change program, and the Dodd-Frank law (18 December 2016), the New York Times referred to a “Democratic Party reduced to rubble” (18 January 2017), the Guardian identified the President with the African-American community (13, 17 January 2017), and Foreign Policy described his “failure” (18 January 2017). Social science poses two fundamental questions, of what has happened, and why it is important. While relying on disciplinary methods of history, law, philosophy, politics, and sociology to interrogate domestic and foreign policies of the 2008-2016 period, the interdisciplinarity of such assessments reveals permits nuanced and multilayered evaluation. 

To do so in the case of the Obama Administration can permit greater insight into the Obama legacy and its impact. During one of the worst financial crises in the United States since the Great Depression, and in the face of unprecedented Congressional intransigence, the Administration advanced a series of controversial executive actions, which prompted cries of executive overreach. Taken together with the actual substance of the orders, these may form an important part of the the Obama legacy. Additionally, the Administration passed some of the most important legislation in modern times (including, but not limited to, the Affordable Care Act). 

While every U.S. Presidential election has global consequences, developments have made it such that the Obama foreign policy will long be associated with drone strikes, quagmires, and red lines. Its rapprochement with Cuba, as well as drastic shifts with regard to Israel (culminating in a so-called “shameful move against Israel at the UN”) further demonstrate that the Obama administration’s foreign relations have been—simultaneously unpredictable in nature, while also based on institutional precedents—a continuing source of fruitful analysis. Analysis of foreign (much like domestic) affairs can be accomplished from different methodological and philosophical perspectives. 

Eschewing the vulgarity of “pro–” and “con–” analysis, we seek a balanced range of submissions. Seeking a “balanced range of submissions,” we acknowledge our  responsibility to produce assessments that serve as “the judgement of history” (Van Ranke, Theory and Practice of History, 1973). The UK Public Records Office’s “thirty year rule” (1967) was founded on the assumption that time and distance permit such assessments of history. At the same time, we acknowledge such legal innovations as the Freedom of Information Act (1979), and social developments such as twenty-first century “hacker culture” to permit the “history of the present” which Walter Benjamin foresaw during the age of radio (Illuminations, 1968). 

We seek contributions viewing the Obama legacy from a variety of levels of analysis. We understand the public figure “Barack Obama” to be historically-constructed, and consider the President in public affairs to exercise a role similar to narrative voice in a work of fiction. We consider the President to have been both a “reliable narrator” (as an existential hero, fully responsible for his actions, unconstrained by structural factors) and as an “unreliable narrator” (an anti-hero, constrained by factors beyond his control, whether intentionally or inadvertently). 

In interrogating the Obama Legacy, we seek contributions responding to (but not limited to) the following: 

  • Have the promises of the ‘08 campaign affected the contemporary understanding of the Obama Legacy? have "Hope” and “Change" been realized?
  • Historically, presidential legacies have been viewed in terms of regional blocks. Is this still a useful analytical framework to view presidential legacies?
  • How have views of the criminal justice system changed during the Obama presidency? Is the Fair Sentencing Act 2010 an indication of changing views?
  • Have norms governing the American democracy changed, or remained the same, under the Obama administration?
  • What has been Congress’ legacy during the Obama Administration? Will the interplay between Congress’ legacy and the Obama legacy significantly impact the relations between Congress and the President going forward?
  • What is the legacy of the Obama Administrations on war? Its view of the president’s war powers? How have drones changed these powers?
  • What is the Obama legacy regarding economic policy? Did the Obama administration continue the preceding administration’s policies, or deviate from precedent? 
  • What role has the identity (or perceived identity) of Obama had shaping his legacy? Referring back to Kantorowicz (1957), what was the role of the “body politic” and the “body natural” within the Obama presidency? 
  • What role do inter-personal relationships (such as those between Obama and Merkel) play in modern international politics? Were they more or less so during the Obama Administrations?
  • What mark has social protest made on the Obama era, particularly with regard to gender, race, and sexuality?

Submission Information & Guidelines:

Submissions should include a 300 word abstract and a 2-page CV with full contact information. They should be sent to before 1 August 2017.  
Authors selected for the volume will be notified by 1 September 2017.
If selected, a completed article of 6,000-8,000 words will be requested by 1 January 2018. Acceptance of abstracts is not a guarantee of publication. Completed submissions will be submitted to peer review before the editors make their final selection of chapters to be included in the published volumes. 
These essays will be submitted to an academic press for publication as an edited volume.

Contact Info: 

Editors: Elizabeth Bishop (Texas State University), Nickolas Spencer, Gökser Gökçay (Fulbright Scholar in Residence, Texas State University)

Contact Email: