Abandoning America the Better to Save American Studies: A Proposal


Markha Valenta
Radboud University Nijmegen

Abandoning America the Better to Save American Studies: A Proposal

Abstract: This paper argues that the most fruitful future for American Studies is one that subsumes it to global projects, critical sensibilities, political, intellectual and aesthetic fields greater than itself. Correspondingly, the prime referent of American Studies ought not to be a reified “America” but rather the paradoxes, tensions and contestations between democratic and inhumanely extractive relations that gave birth to and continue to shape the US/Americas, even as their reach and flow far exceed “America.” The US – as icon, social field and political actor – is as much the effect as the source of global forces. The most important of these today are ones that qualify, selectively dissolve, concentrate and reconfigure constitutive elements of the nation-state and political geography. Taking this seriously – as the US follows in the footsteps of other countries that have been producing one chauvinist strongman leader after another – means making American Studies not about either “America” or the US but about the world. One particularly promising avenue entails scholarship engaging and contributing to a radical, globalizing democratic culture that is, in fact, deeply aligned with some of the most important traditions and sensibilities in American Studies itself.

Keywords: Globalization, Democracy, Politics, America, American Studies


Globalization; Democracy; Politics; America; American Studies

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Published : 2017-06-30

ValentaM. (2017). Abandoning America the Better to Save American Studies: A Proposal. Review of International American Studies, 10(1). Retrieved from https://www.journals.us.edu.pl/index.php/RIAS/article/view/5412

Markha Valenta  M.Valenta@ru.nl
Faculty of Arts North American Studies English Department Radboud University  Netherlands

Markha Valenta is an interdisciplinary, transnational scholar at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her work addresses the globalization of identity politics since the late 19th century, with an emphasis on issues of religion, world cities, materiality and geopolitics. A second project concerns the politics of Muslim minorities in secular democracies. Her approach is comparative, dialogic and relational, focused on the US, the Netherlands and India. In addition, she writes regularly for openDemocracy and participates actively in Dutch public debates on related issues.

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