Geographies of Promise and Betrayal: Land and Place in US Studies Toronto, Ontario October 25-28, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Canadian Association for American Studies
contact email: 

Sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies, York University and the Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

What makes a house a home? What makes a home a good investment? What makes a real estate "bubble" burst? Who "owns" the streets? The water? The land? What makes this land your land, my land, or our land, from California to the New York Island, or beyond? How do you "occupy" Wall Street? How can you "walk for the cure"? American mythologies and narratives are traditionally reliant upon the presumed availability of space (the frontier thesis) and American identity typically defined through the occupation, subjugation, conquest, or mastery of space. In Critical Regionalism (2007), Douglas Reichert Powell points out that "'senses' of place and region are not so much essential qualities, imparted by singular events, practices, or topographical features, as they are ongoing debates and discourses that coalesce around particular geographical spaces." How is land/earth/terrain understood and used? What are the distinct debates, discourses, and spatial practices that have defined American culture and society in the past, and how might they be changing today? These are some of the questions that will be posed at this 2012 CAAS-sponsored conference.

Topics/Themes might include but are by no means limited to the following:

Critical Regionalism
The Politics of Occupation
Land and Music
Mobility and Conquest
Culture and the Environment: After (?) Eco-criticism
The City, the Edge City, the Suburb, the Exurb, and the Country
Interior Decorating
Planned Communities and Communitarian Utopias
American Pastoral
Confinement, Incarceration, Renditions, Prisons
Moving People: Streets, lanes, Highways; Ships, Busses, Airports
Stopping People: Walls, Gates, Fences, Perimeters, Police Lines, Security Checks
CGI and Digital Culture: Imagined Landscapes
Migrants, "Illegals," and Domestics

This is only a partial list – topics from all areas of American Studies will be considered.
To participate, submit a 300 word abstract by March 15, 2012 to . Please include in the body of your email: your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information.