Call for Proposals: Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World (2023)  

Due September 1, 2023

The American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japanese Association for American Studies (JAAS), with support from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUFSC), are pleased to announce a competition open to ASA members (United States citizen or permanent resident of the United States). You may apply and be considered as long as you primarily live and work in the United States.

We plan to select two ASA delegates (dependent upon continued funding from JUSFC) for participation in the annual JAAS conference to be held in May–June 2024 in Japan. We invite proposals for papers to be presented at the JAAS conference and for a pro-seminar with Japanese graduate students in Japan. The award covers round trip airfare to Japan, housing, and modest daily expenses.

The members of the ASA-JAAS Project Advisory Committee and the International Committee of JAAS will choose the delegates by collaborative assessment and selection. The pro-seminar will most likely be held after the JAAS conference, which will enable JAAS scholars to participate. The topic of the pro-seminar will be connected to the papers delegates present at JAAS. The ASA delegates will collaborate with the International Committee of JAAS in finalizing the format of the pro-seminar and will be responsible for participating in scholarly exchanges with JAAS members, from graduate students (including those who may not yet be JAAS members) to senior scholars. Under the proposed project, the ASA delegates will tentatively spend two days at the JAAS conference, one day in their pro-seminar, plus travel time, for a total of about a week.

Project Theme

This is the second year of our current proposal for scholarly exchanges between the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japan Association for American Studies (JAAS) covering the three-year project period, 2023-2025.

The scholarly theme proposed for the three-year cycle by the project advisory committee is “Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World.” We are building on the previous three-year project, which highlighted the centrality of transnationalism to our conceptualization of American Studies. American Studies has been at the forefront of scholarly fields working to reimagine the US and the Americas’s past, present, and future as contested, dynamic, and always ripe for interpretation. Drawing on the lenses of postcolonial, anti-racist, and queer critique, our field(s) have challenged many of the normative and enduring assumptions about American identity and its place in the world; scholarship on transnational capitalism, settler colonialism, the slave trade, immigration and international migration, and war has challenged the singularity of the US and unpacked enduring ideological persuasiveness of “America” as an ideal. The scholarly theme, “Crisis and Urgency: Scholarship in a Shifting World” aims to take stock of how much has changed, and what has stayed the same, in these momentous past few years. It addresses two of the most pressing issues faced by American Studies today: first, understanding how the rise of new nationalisms, white supremacy, and anti-immigrant sentiment has moved the United States from claiming a “lone superpower” status to reject particular tenets of globalization and reinvest in a “America first” protectionism, and second, coming to terms with the environmental crisis presented by climate change and humanitarian disasters of both natural and human making.

The second cycle of the three-year project explores the topic “Climate Change, “Natural” Disaster, and Global Unrest" (2024). The second cycle of the three-year project explores the ways in which climate change and a variety of other “natural” disasters function as broad threats to economic and social systems that have direct correlations to global unrest and violence. As scholars, we have long turned our attention to injustices caused by or deepened by capitalism, the “free” market, racism, misogyny, ableism, and homophobia, among other things. How does the reality of human suffering in the face of climate change and other disasters shift the terms through which we understand these identities, as well as our understanding of inequality and the social and political struggle necessary to confront it? Are the human-made conditions of climate disaster a new phase of, or something altogether different from, the conditions of exploitation and expropriation that we study, analyze, and contest? What new interpretive, analytical, and political strategies are necessary for this conjuncture? And in what ways can we empower global citizens to recognize their responsibilities not only in the wake of pervasive environmental degradation but also in its social, economic, and political outcomes?

According to the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, climate change is now significant enough that its impact can be seen in global weather patterns every single day, and young people born after 2002 have lived their entire lives under the direct influence of human-caused global warming. Simultaneously, other crises (such as Flint’s drinking water, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and COVID-19) have facilitated not only the rapid dissemination of conspiracy theories and misinformation through social media but also the lack of recognition of the inequitable impact and often displacement of marginalized communities. Furthermore, a subset of our social, political, cultural, and economic elites use new media tools to distance themselves and their supporters from any obligations to the American body politic and our global community. What is the role of our field, as scholars in the humanities and social sciences, in making the case for scientific leadership and policy changes? What role do we play in imagining other possible futures other than global humanitarianism versus planetary disaster? How do we speak of the “American” in American Studies in ways that underscore our necessary interconnectedness to the well-being of other nations, regions, and the planet?

Application Procedures

Each application should include a summary in 300 words of the proposed paper to be presented at the JAAS annual meeting. Participants should explain how the proposed paper contributes to a discussion of the project theme in general, and more specifically to the 2024 conference theme, “Climate Change, “Natural” Disaster, and Global Unrest.” 

Applicants should include a personal statement, no longer than two pages, describing their interest in this project and the issues that their own scholarship and teaching have addressed. Priority will be given to mid-career or senior scholars (associate professor or above) with a commitment to mentoring graduate students and/or developing longer-term relationships with Japanese scholars of American Studies; applicants should address these criteria in the personal statement. The applicant must also be a current member of the ASA and preference will be given to candidates who are active participants of the ASA; please explain in what capacity you have participated in ASA panels, committees, journal, etc. in your personal statement. Scholars must have a Ph.D. in any field/discipline within American Studies.

In addition, applications should include a two-page curriculum vitae, emphasizing publications and teaching experience (especially graduate teaching/mentorship) and the names and addresses of three references. All applicants must be available to travel for a week-long period to Japan in May-June 2024; exact dates required for travel will be forthcoming. The applicant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and live and work professionally in the United States.

NOTE to applicants: there is an expectation that those selected as ASA delegates will then serve at least a three-year term on the ASA-JAAS project committee, helping to ensure the ongoing success of the partnership

Application materials should be addressed to the ASA-JAAS Project Advisory Committee and submitted as a Word or PDF document in a single file attachment before midnight (U.S. EST) September 1, 2023, through the ASA Grants Application Form

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