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Research

The American studies department is committed to supporting excellence and originality in scholarly research.

The department is committed to supporting excellence and originality in scholarly research.

We seek to foster community and professional relationships and encourage regional and national scholarly exchange through student and faculty participation in conferences, projects and workshops, and through the publication of scholarly work.

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Understanding Asian American discrimination in a broader racial context

The experiences of racial discrimination are related, but very different in form

American Studies

Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Karthick Ramakrishnan
Dates:
Publisher: AAPI Data
Anti-Asian Hate Incidents and the Broader Landscape of Racial Bias

Survey data collected in the wake of the March 2021 mass shooting in Atlanta Georgia

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Beyond Trigger Warnings: Safety, Securitization, and Queer Left Critique

Christina Hanhardt and co-editor Jasbir Puar conduct a roundtable with scholars exploring campus safety, from the history of alert systems to insurance calculations for international study programs to struggles over academic freedom and student organizing

American Studies

Author/Lead: Christina B. Hanhardt
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Jasbir Puar, Neel Ahuja, Paul Amar, Aniruddha Dutta, Fatima El-Tayeb, Kwame Holmes, Sherene Seikaly
Dates:
Publisher: Duke University Press

Christina Hanhardt and co-editor Jasbir Puar conduct a roundtable with scholars exploring campus safety, from the history of alert systems to insurance calculations for international study programs to struggles over academic freedom and student organizing. Hanhardt also contributes an essay on the word "safe" to the third edition of Keywords in American Cultural Studies, exploring the use of the word and associated concepts from the Declaration of Independence to the expansion of order maintenance policing to recent liability laws, among much more.

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Change and Resilience in Lakeland: African Americans in College Park, Maryland

Associate Professor of American Studies Mary Corbin Sies will host daylong digitization event to document the history of Lakeland, Md.

American Studies, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Lakeland Community Heritage Project
Award Organization:

National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage Grant


Dates:

Project Director: Mary Corbin Sies, Associate Professor of American Studies 

Project Title: Change and Resilience in Lakeland: African Americans in College Park, Md., 1950–1980

Project Description: A daylong digitization event, by-appointment collecting visits to neighbors’ homes, and a public interpretation event to document and explore the history of Lakeland, an African-American community in Prince George’s County, Maryland. 

“The Black Military Image in Roots: The Next Generations,” in Erica L. Ball and Kellie Carter, eds. Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, and Memory.

This chapter, part of a collection on the 1970s television series Roots, analyzes the representation of African American service in World War I and World War II in the sequel series, Roots: The Next Generations.

American Studies

Author/Lead: Robert K. Chester
Dates:
Publisher: University of Georgia Press, 2017

This article explores Roots: The Next Generations' treatment of twentieth-century issues of assimilation, exclusion, and disaffection through the theme of black Americans serving in the U.S. military. It contends that the show creates a landmark departure from prevailing (and succeeding) narrative conventions of U.S. films and television series, in which black service was either overlooked or written into a simplistic, celebratory narrative of progress toward equality. Rather than emphasizing seamless multiracial unity or presenting war as a cure for prejudice and division (what we might call racial triumphalism), RTNG taps into African Americans' post-civil rights, post-Vietnam War reconsideration of integrationism and military service as viable responses to exclusion. The experiences of Simon Haley (author Alex Haley's father) in World War I and Alex Haley himself in World War II situate black service and the challenges confronting black veterans not in a teleology of uplift and equalization, but as part of ongoing and shifting patterns of bigotry and betrayal. This constitutes a significant expression of a dissenting vision of war and its repercussions for U.S. racial formations, all the more so for its appearance on ABC, a major network reaching millions of the nation's homes.

Keywords for Latina/o Studies

Collection of sixty-three essays that respond to representative and emergent terms, categories, and concepts that undergird the field of Latina/o Studies.

American Studies

Author/Lead: Nancy Raquel Mirabal
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Deborah R. Vargas, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
Dates:
Publisher: New York University Press, 2017

Brings together 63 essays from a wide-range of scholars from diverse fields who respond to multiple keywords and in doing so, articulate the shape and direction of Latina/o Studies as an academic and scholarly field of study. The different authors trace the history, genealogy and future of the field.

Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957

Study explores Cuban racial and sexual politics in New York during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Examines Afro-Cuban activism, politics, intellectual and cultural production.

American Studies, History, The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Author/Lead: Nancy Raquel Mirabal
Dates:
Publisher: New York University Press, 2017.

"Suspect Freedoms" chronicles more than a hundred years of Cuban diasporic history in New York. One of the few studies to examine the early history of Afro-Cuban migration and politics, it employs a rich cache of primary sources, archival documents, literary texts, club records, newspapers, photographs, and oral histories to produce what Michel Rolph Trouillot calls an "unthinkable history."

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“World War II in American Culture, 1945-Present” in David Schmid, ed. Violence in American Popular Culture Vol. 1

As part of a collection considering the role of violence in American popular culture, this chapter uses literature, poetry, film, and television to survey some of the multiple meanings attached to World War II in postwar US culture.

American Studies

Author/Lead: Robert K. Chester
Dates:
Publisher: Praeger

This chapter outlines the changing meanings given to World War II in US popular culture across the postwar period. The first section, “Early Postwar” (1945-1948), covers anxieties arising at war’s end over returning soldiers, potential fascist violence at home, racial inequality, and the dawning of the atomic age; the second, “Cold War” (1948-1962), explores shifting postwar international alliances, analyzes the role of World War II popular culture in supporting the US’s Cold War agenda, and further examines postwar paranoia concerning atomic weaponry; the third, “The Vietnam Era” (1962-1978), considers popular images of World War II as they were filtered through the lens of an unpopular war in Indochina, exploring the decline of militarism in US culture and the ways in which Americans drew on memory of World War II to critique the nation’s postwar global role; the fourth, “Post-Vietnam” (1978-2001) briefly recounts the resuscitation of World War II triumphalism in the Reagan revival of the 1980s and charts the development in the 1990s of patriotic mythologies of “the greatest generation”; finally, “Post-9/11” (2001-) documents how representations of World War II after the September 2001 attacks helped both rejuvenate and challenge American militarism during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and beyond.

Crusading in Africa: Religion, Race, and Post-9/11 Intervention in Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun (2003).

This article explores the racial politics of African American director Antoine Fuqua's 2003 war film Tears of the Sun.

American Studies

Author/Lead: Robert K. Chester
Dates:
Publisher: Wiley Publishing

Article analyzes African American director Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun, a 2003 war film made with US Navy cooperation. The film imagines the intervention of Navy SEALs in an ethnic cleansing being conducted against Christians by Nigerian Muslims. It is at once an exercise in black diasporic consciousness and an expression of American exceptionalism. The director aimed to raise awareness of contemporary African crises, but the picture is also the closest Hollywood combat cinema came in the immediate post-9/11 years to addressing and endorsing the polarizing discourse and militarism of the Bush administration. Its use of reductive religious imagery, weak box office return, and generally hostile reception overseas expose its failure as a tool of diplomacy and reveal the waning ability of triumphalist Hollywood cinema to define or explain the ‘War on Terror’.

'We Feel the Wound Is Closed': Red Ball Express (1952), the Department of Defense Pictorial Division, and the Reluctant Embrace of Postwar Integration

This article examines the postwar relationship of Hollywood and the Department of Defense Pictorial Division by tracing the military's cooperation with and attempts to influence the representation of wartime racism in the 1952 film Red Ball Express

American Studies

Author/Lead: Robert K. Chester
Dates:
Publisher: University of Maryland, College Park

Drawing from the archives of the Department of Defense Pictorial Division, this article reveals how the postwar DOD attempted to ameliorate the image of wartime racism in postwar films set in World War II. Despite affording relative prominence to black GIs, the production history and textual politics of Universal Studios' 1952 film Red Ball Express expose the DoD’s and Hollywood’s contingent embrace of integration. The state endeavored to remove almost all instances of racism from the story of an integrated group of supply drivers, presenting the “problem” of race as superficial, easily transcended, and as much the product of black paranoia as white bigotry.

‘Negroes’ Number One Hero’: Doris Miller, Pearl Harbor, and Retroactive Multiculturalism in World War II Remembrance

This article examines popular and "official" military remembrance (and forgetting) of African American sailor and Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller from wartime to the 21st century.

American Studies

Author/Lead: Robert K. Chester
Dates:
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Chester's article traces the postwar connotations attached to remembering (and forgetting) black sailor and Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller both in African American culture and in US navy-sponsored commemorations from 1941 to 2013. Drawing on governmental and military archives, the records of the NAACP, and a selection of poems, songs, films, news reportage, and television series, the piece argues that while Miller's post-Pearl Harbor narrative began as a marker of racial inequality and black disaffection with such, the navy and other scribes of official memory eventually created around Miller a modality of remembrance identifying the armed forces with ideological color blindness and attributing to World War II and nonwhite service therein the death of racism in military culture.