Transatlantic Otherness and the Politics of Form

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Shifting Tides, Anxious Borders: A Graduate Conference in Transnational American Studies (9th Annual)

Shifting Tides, Anxious Borders: A Graduate Conference in Transnational American Studies (9th Annual)


Theme: “Transatlantic Otherness and the Politics of Form”

Where: Binghamton University, Downtown Center

When: Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Keynote: Eric Lott (CUNY Graduate Center)

Deadline for Proposal Submission: March 1, 2018


“Shifting Tides, Anxious Borders” is an interdisciplinary graduate conference dedicated to exploring the changing contours of the field of American Studies. As populist movements sweep across the U.S. and Europe, and racially coded threats of “culture wars” persist in popular media, this year’s conference theme on “Transatlantic Otherness and the Politics of Form” aims to make interventions into questions of race and national belonging at this especially volatile political moment. Alongside these questions, the conference turns to recent debates surrounding the politics of form to think through new shapes, orders, and patterns of critical and cultural production that might add to these contentious, vexed accounts of race within and without the West. As Caroline Levine advances in her widely influential Forms (2015): “political power has often meant putting bodies, things, and ideas in their proper places.” This conference takes seriously the capacity for forms -- cultural, political, social -- to organize and disorganize the racial and ethnic hierarchies that so often galvanize these “proper” arrangements.

In keeping with this year’s focus, we seek papers concerned with racial and ethnic justice and the diverse, sometimes competing form(s) it takes. We encourage projects that examine race through transnational paradigms of resistance and coalition. Taking a page from interdisciplinary fields of ethnic studies, cultural studies, and decolonial studies, we seek papers concerned with shared histories of struggle and defiance, and we welcome proposals that think through forms of legibility -- how subjects and movements become heard -- across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, and class. We aim, too, to interrogate the historical inequalities that permit some forms to resonate louder than others. 

Relevant questions include: How has the resurgence of ethno-nationalism across the United States and Europe ushered in a re-thinking of cultural production and appropriation? How have recent political tensions structured identity and class as discrete spaces, thereby hindering forms of solidarity and coalition? How do recent natural disasters both presence and efface the slow violence of global climate change and its uneven distributions between the West and Global South? How has the expansion and deregulation of global capital markets re-formed and re-entrenched notions of citizenship, belonging, and otherness? How has the “descriptive” turn away from ideology critique expanded or limited literary studies’ political horizons and its (un)willingness to engage in conversations about race and ethnicity?

 To submit a paper proposal, send a 250-word abstract to To submit a panel proposal, include the names and email addresses of three participants, with individual paper abstracts and a 150-word abstract uniting them. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: 

• Far-right appropriations of medieval symbols and imaginaries

• Blackface and minstrelsy in “post-racial” politics

• Transatlantic exchanges of cultural forms and practices

• Forms of blackness in transatlantic literatures

• Histories of transatlantic diaspora

• (Under)commoning and the politics of resistance

• Settler colonialism and its transatlantic legacies

• The possibilities of resistance in the neoliberal university

• Transatlantic cosmopolitanism in globalization

• Representing and re-presenting the triangle trade

• Neo-orientalism and multicultural narratives

• Visualizing the refugee in popular media

• Appropriative forms of/in literature and mass culture