The RIAS, in cooperation with the University of Strasbourg, will organize a one day conference on American communities abroad and their broader socio-economic, cultural, environmental and political impact.Throughout the twentieth century, the United States built what historian Daniel Immerwahr has defined as a “pointillist empire” consisting of an intricate web of incorporated territories, islands, and overseas bases. Insignificant, perhaps, from a territorial point of view, these possessions have nevertheless served as important springboards for the worldwide projection of American military, economic and cultural hegemony. As Brooke Blower has put it, “the United States has always been at heart a nation of outposts.”
This one-day conference aims to further investigate how the many “little Americas” spread all over the world – broadly conceived as military or economic enclaves, missionary communities, research and cultural centers, etc. – have actively disseminated typical elements of the American lifestyle, acted as unofficial ambassadors, supported the expansion of American business, exported the hallmarks of American culture, and simultaneously challenged the traditional class, gender, racial, and power relationships of their surroundings.
The conveners would like to invite papers that, by adopting a bottom-up approach, assess the overall socio-economic, cultural, environmental or political impact of these American outposts. The permeable insularity of these American communities overseas has alternatively favored the promotion of, smoothened the adaptation to, or spurred the resistance against American visions of peace, stability and progress. For this reason, the conference invites scholars to reflect on the polysemous nature of American security and prosperity as a core component of the ethos of the American Century, as a crucial element of modern globalization, and as a catalyst for contacts and exchanges between different cultural heritages.
Please submit proposals (maximum 500 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 January 2019. The conveners aim to publish the selected papers, though the format of the conference output will be decided collectively. The RIAS will provide invited participants with board and lodging.
Senior Researcher, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies