TRANSNATIONAL CALIFORNIA: Special Issue of Comparative American Studies

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Michael Docherty

Deadline for abstracts: 1 December 2021

Deadline for essays: 1 May 2022

California has been transnational since the moment of colonial encounter from which it acquired its name – borrowed by Spanish explorers from a work of contemporary fiction and imposed upon a place (indeed, multiple places) long known to indigenous peoples by other words. Since that time, California has been defined by further transnational encounters, exchanges, and conflicts – as a site of cross-cultural communication where borders often characterise experience but equally often prove to be porous and mutable.

The present moment, in which California stands as a major global economy in its own right, and in which tensions with China compel a Pacific reorientation of American foreign policy, presents us with an opportunity to reconsider California’s transnationality. We might think about the different ways in which Californian culture can be conceived as global culture – both because it is prominently exported around the world by the state’s culture industries and because it is something created by the region’s particular migratory histories. Scholars from across disciplines have long asked whether California (socially, culturally, geographically) represents the apotheosis of American exceptionalism or, conversely, an exception from America – the final proof of the American experiment or a refutation of it. To examine the state in its transnational contexts may provide us with novel ways of revisiting this age-old question.

This special issue of Comparative American Studies therefore seeks scholarship considering California in transnational frameworks. Subjects for discussion might include but are by no means limited to:

  • Californian culture as a globally-traded commodity
  • Images and ideas of California in global culture
  • Californian histories of migration
  • Colonial-era California and its legacies
  • California as borderland
  • Indigenous conceptions and experiences of nationhood and transnationality
  • Baja California and its relationship with its northern counterpart
  • California as a Pacific-facing locality
  • Transnational intellectual encounters (Adorno, Brecht, Huxley, Isherwood etc.)
  • Histories and legacies of Japanese internment and Chinese exclusion
  • California as a place of exile and/or escape
  • California as an un-American or hyper-American place

Submissions are invited from any disciplinary standpoint (e.g. literary, cultural, historical, geographic, sociological, political etc.) and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Considerations of either contemporary California or its historical past are equally welcome.

Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words) to