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ABSTRACTS & BIOGRAPHIES 

Virginie Adane
Empires Interfacing: Slavery, Intimacy & Community in Seventeenth-Century Schenectady 

ABSTRACT:
 “If you will not sell the Negress to me, I shall get a root out of the woods and break it in two and give the Negress one half and eat the other half myself and thus die before your door."[1] On September 8, 1684, an ordinary session was held by the court in Albany, in the province of New York: Jacob Sanders Glen, a Schenectady slaveholder sued one “Frenchman” Matthys Boffie for threatening to kill Pey, one of Sanders’s slaves, thus shedding light on the significance of African slavery in the Upper Hudson Valley. In the early 1660s, the town of Schenectady was established in the Mohawk Valley, as part of New Netherland and in direct contact with the Haudenosaunee territory, to become an agricultural settlement relying on an enslaved workforce provided through the slave-port of New Amsterdam. The presentation will focus on a territory that has long been described as a “frontier” between New Netherland/New York[2] and the Haudenosaunee Confederation – in a context of competition and diplomatic tensions with neighboring New France for the control of fur trade in the area. While enslaved Africans had been present in the area as early as the 1630s, the importance of slavery in shaping economy, social order and community formation has long been overlooked. Their work, however, was a cornerstone in the agricultural development of Schenectady; it also placed them in direct contact with the Mohawks and with French coureurs de bois who might prey upon them and try to abduct them to New France. This presentation will question, through shifting conceptions of territory, how the presence of enslaved Africans contributed to shape the interface between Empires (Dutch-then-British, French and Haudenosaunee) and helped consolidate the Dutch (then English) claim to the Mohawk Valley. By adopting the notions of “interface” and questioning a “threshold effect,” instead of the oft- (and still-) used “frontier”, I want to reassess the nature of the contacts, relations and circulations between populations coexisting in the area. 

[1] A.J H. Van Laer (ed.), Minutes of the Court of Albany, Rensselaerswyck and Schenectady 1680-1685, vol.3 (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1932), 480‐481 [2] New Netherland became New York after 1664, after the English takeover of the province (and its ratification during the 1667 treaty of Breda).

BIO: 
Dr. Virginie Adane is Associate Professor of history at Nantes Université (France). Adane is a graduate of the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Her doctoral thesis was focused on the role of gender relations in the establishment of a colonial society in New Netherland and colonial New York in the 17th century. It will be published in the Spring of 2024. Her work explores the interactions between Indigenous societies, enslaved Africans, the Dutch and the British during the formative years of the colonial society. Her most recent project focuses on the borderlands settlement of Schenectady in the Mohawk Valley, north of the Hudson Valley, at the junction with New France and Iroquoia.

Contact Information:
virginie.Adane@univ-nantes.fr

Ray Allen and Frankie McIntosh
Decolonizing Knowledge through Collaborative Writing: Caribbean Carnival Music in West Indian Brooklyn  

ABSTRACT:
The recent rise in collaborative writing between scholars and the people they study is a response to the call for decolonizing knowledge and rooting out institutional racism.  The broad aim is to obviate the asymmetrical power relations that characterize conventional biography and scholarship based on the traditional scholar/subject relationship. This approach should be beneficial for American Studies scholars working with living members of diasporic and indigenous American cultures, especially when those researchers do not belong to the culture they aim to write about. 

Our presentation will recount our collaboration over the past three years that has resulted in the co-written biography, Frankie McIntosh and the Art of the Soca Arranger (University Press of Mississippi, Spring 2024 projected date of publication). We will reflect on our personal backgrounds and the particular skills that we brought to the project: Ray, a white, New York-born researcher, writer, and academic trained in folklore and American Studies; Frankie, an Afro-Caribbean professional pianist and arranger with formal background in Western classical and jazz music and a lifetime of experience with Caribbean calypso and soca (soul-calypso) music. How did we position our individual voices to tell the story of Frankie’s immigration experiences and musical career? To what degree is the project truly dialogic—from the early planning stages and choice of musical examples through the joint editing and reediting of Ray’s initial drafts and Frankie’s revisions? In the final version, who really speaks with the authoritative voice? Perhaps both of us in different ways? 

Our collaborative writing reflections will touch on Frankie’s transnational journey from the Caribbean nation of St Vincent to the United States as part of the post-1965 wave of West Indian immigrants who transformed central Brooklyn. His musical achievements within that community, as well as his interaction with neighboring African American jazz and R&B musicians, will illuminate the complex ways in which music contributes to the negotiation of cultural identity in diverse, diasporic spaces.  

BIOS:
Ray Allen is Professor of Music and American Studies Emeritus at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he taught courses in American and world music, and worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Hitchcock Institute for the Study of American Music.  His books include Singing in the Spirit: African-American Sacred Quartets in New York City (University of Pennsylvania Press); Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Urban Folk Music Revival (University of Illinois Press); Island Sounds in the Global City: Caribbean Popular Music and Identity in New York, co-edited with Lois Wilcken (University of Illinois Press); and most recently, Jump Up! Caribbean Carnival Music in New York City (Oxford University Press). 

Pianist and music arranger Frankie McIntosh is recognized internationally as one of the architects of the popular West Indian soca (soul/calypso) style that emerged in the late 1970s. A native of St Vincent, he immigrated to Brooklyn in 1968 where he earned a BA in Music from Brooklyn College and a Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from New York University. He served as music director for Brooklyn-based Straker’s Records for three decades. During that time, he composed musical arrangements and oversaw the recordings of close to a thousand calypso/soca albums for Straker and other Brooklyn-based calypso labels. In 2022 McIntosh received an honorary Doctorate from the University of the West Indies in recognition of his contributions to Caribbean culture. 

Contact Information: 
raylaur@earthlink.net (Ray Allen)

Rani-Henrik Andersson
“The Crossing”- Toward Chumash Stewardship on Federal Lands and Waters

ABSTRACT:
In 1841 the famous Western artist George Catlin proposed the establishment of a Nation’s Park that would display Native Americans and wildlife. “What a beautiful and thrilling specimen for America to preserve and hold up to the view of her refined citizens and the world, in future ages! A Nations Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty!” wrote Catlin. While his idea did not lead to the establishment of such of a park, it is illustrative of 19th (and 20th) century Euro-American thinking regarding nature conservation and Indigenous people where the worldviews of Indigenous peoples have been pushed aside. The original owners of the land have appeared in this debate only as a curiosity, a romantic stereotype of a people forgotten in the past. 

National parks and other protected spaces of nature have become symbols of nature protection and are valuable sites for global cultural heritage. At the same time, they are colonial constructs and represent loss of traditional homelands and cultural heritage to the Indigenous people who previously inhabited these bordered spaces of nature. This has resulted in the near silencing of Indigenous voices, practices, and values related to the natural world. 

In recent years native communities have restored access to culturally important sites within protected spaces of nature. This newly found co-operation strengthens the relationship between Indigenous people and settler-colonial states, both Indigenous identity and sovereignty. By using an example form California coast that includes the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), this paper highlights what can be gained from the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives when they become active partners in managing natural spaces of conservation and wilderness preservation. 

BIO:
Dr. Rani-Henrik Andersson is Senior University Lecturer of North American Studies at the University of Helsinki. He has served as the interim McDonnell Douglas Chair, Professor of American Studies at the University of Helsinki Finland during 2014-2016 and a CORE Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He is the author or editor of 10 books including the Lakota Ghost Dance of 1890 (University of Nebraska Press, 2008), and Whirlwind Passed Through Our Country: Lakota Voices of the Ghost Dance (University of Oklahoma Press 2018). One of his recent books edited with Boyd Cothran and Saara Kekki is entitled Bridging Cultural Concepts of Nature: Indigenous People and Protected Spaces of Nature (Helsinki University Press 2021). His newest books are Lakȟóta: an Indigenous History published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2022 and an edited volume with Janne Lahti Finnish Settler Colonialism in North America. Rethinking Finnish Experiences in Transimperial Places also in the fall of 2022.

Contact Information: 
rani-henrick.andersson@helsinki.fi

 

Wilma Andersson 
“Was this, finally, the New World?” – Achieving the “American Dream” in Gish Jen’s Typical American (1991)

ABSTRACT:
My paper examines how obtaining the “American Dream” is portrayed through irony and humor in Gish Jen’s debut novel Typical American (1991), which depicts a Chinese American family’s attempts to ‘belong’ in Cold War America. The novel’s narrative, which spans the late 1940s to the early 1960s, is rife with religious symbolism that relates to the fundamental belief that is required to attain the American dream. Jen’s appreciation of irony and sarcasm specifically shines in how she shapes the American dream as requiring blind faith in God and mammon. I argue that the dream, albeit encouraging independence and promoting pseudo-Emersonian and Franklinian ideals of the self-made man, inherently requires interdependence and calls for collective effort. 

In the narrative, the creation and the ultimate manifestation of the American dream is progressively built and its necessary elements, positive or negative, are described as gradually making their way into the main protagonists’ lives. The locations in which the Chinese American main protagonists reside as well as the objects they acquire, all represent, not only their state of mind as characters, but also the goals that they have set, both as individuals and as a family. 

My paper analyzes how the obsession of attaining the dream is characterized in the narrative and how the main protagonists, in their fervor to attain it, remain blind to its pitfalls. In their excitement to become quintessential ‘typical Americans’ illustrated in a 1950s billboard advertisement, the protagonists are forced to realize that due to their ethnicity, the surrounding, predominantly white society, will always make it difficult for them to truly belong. This paper thus aims to demonstrate how the interplay between independence and interdependence is depicted in Typical American and how these two concepts are portrayed as being paramount to the continued functionality of the American dream. 

BIO:
Wilma Andersson is a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. She received her MA in English philology from the University of Helsinki in 2017. She is finalizing her doctoral dissertation, which examines the tensions between Chinese collectivistic values and Western individualistic principles in six Chinese American novels published between the 1970s and the 1990s. Her research interests include Asian American literary criticism, Asian American history, postcolonial literary criticism, literary disability studies as well as social psychology. Her research has previously been funded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and is currently funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. 

Contact Information:
wilma.andersson@helsinki.fi

Joanna Antoniak 
Queer Otherness - the intersection of migrant and queer experiences in Grace Lau’s poetry

ABSTRACT:
The intersection of migrant and queer experiences constitutes one of the core motifs of The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak (2021), the debut poetry collection by Grace Lau, a Hong Kong-born Chinese Canadian poet. Through a series of interconnected vignettes, Lau provides an insight into her experiences as both a Canadian and a Chinese immigrant, a lesbian and a failed model child, an aficionado of traditional Chinese culture and an enthusiast of contemporary Western popular culture. The mosaic of experiences illustrates the complexity and intricacy of the author’s identity/ies. Using her own experiences as a blueprint, Lau constructs a narrative that showcases tensions marring the Asian diasporic existence. Through the analysis of selected poems from the collection, supported with references to the theoretical works on Asian North American writing and queer Asian migrant experience, I discuss Lau’s depictions of queerness and her experiences as a Chinese immigrant in relation to the Canadian LGBTQ+ community, white queer liberalism, and internal politics of the Chinese diaspora. 

BIO:
Jonna Antoniak is Assistant Professor of Literature at the Department of Anglophone Literature, Culture and Comparative Studies at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, where she teaches contemporary British and Anglophone literature. In her research she focuses on the literary depictions of diasporic experiences in British- and Canadian-Asian diasporic literature. Her book Faces of Immigrant Fatherhood: Portrayal of Immigrant Fathers in Selected Asian-Canadian Diasporic Fiction (2023) explores the relationship between fatherhood, immigration and diaspora in the late 20th-century novels by Kerri Sakamoto, SKY Lee and M.G. Vassanji. She is also a member of the Polish Association for Canadian Studies.

Contact Information:
antoniakjo@umk.pl 

Robert J. Anzenberger
US Public Opinion and the Winter War

ABSTRACT:
The Russo-Finnish War (1939-1940), or better known as the Winter War was a short-lived conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland that occurred during the “Phony War” period of World War II. Despite having limited contemporary scholarship, it was a conflict that at the time was front page news across the western world. Like the conflict in Ukraine today, the United States and the other Western powers were very quick to condemn the actions of the Soviet Union but were hesitant to get themselves involved in the broader conflict. This David vs Goliath struggle was endearing to the hearts of many Americans and British citizens, and the aim of this paper is to gauge the level of support, or public opinion, that these individuals had for supporting the Finns in their fight against the Soviets.   

The methodology that this paper will undertake in gauging the overall public support for Finland in the Winter War, and even the level of public support for military intervention is rather simple. This paper will utilize polling data from organizations such as Gallup to track the views of the public. Additionally, it will examine the “Letters to the Editor” or “Opinion” sections of publications in the United States and the United Kingdom to further give a voice to the public and determine the level of support that Finland had in its struggle against a much larger foe. Ultimately, this paper will demonstrate that while the United States’ foreign policy was strict neutrality, the citizens of the United States were slowly being awaken from their neutral slumber and were more than willing to support Finland in ways that would have meant that the United States could no longer officially maintain a neutral status. While the paper will not go into detail about the foreign policy of the United States in great detail, this paper would do well to serve as supporting evidence to a larger work on the shift of the United States Foreign Policy in the early years of World War II, and it was the Winter War that caused the shift.  

BIO:
Robert Anzenberger is a doctoral candidate in History at the University of Kentucky and expects to defend in early 2026. His research interests include the diplomatic relationship between Finland and the United States between 1917-1946. He has his MA in History from Texas State University.

Contact Information:
rjanz88@gmail.com

Nana Arjopalo 
“Tiny’s still on the roof!”: Women, Space, and Place in Lucia Berlin’s Evening in Paradise

ABSTRACT:
Tiny, the protagonist in Lucia Berlin’s short story “Noël. Texas. 1956,” migrates to the roof of her house, appareled with a radio, an electric blanket, crossword puzzles and a chamber pot, in an attempt to escape her extended family during the Christmas holidays. Tiny is but one example of a woman in Berlin’s collection of short stories, who, feeling suffocated in the domestic space, negotiates a literal or figurative “room of her own” as an act of agency. 

The entanglements of gender and geography are multitudinous and deep-rooted (Massey 1994, 179). The women in Berlin’s stories rebel against the limiting role of homemaker and mother, and either attempt to numb their pain with substance abuse, or express their agency in liminal, borderland, non-urban, and non-domestic spaces. They are active agents once removed from the domicile space, a symbol of their entrapment and subjugation (see Ng, 2015). Twelve out of the twenty-two stories are situated in states that share a border with Mexico, four in Mexico, and the remaining six portray mobile protagonists travelling from one geographical location to another. Often in women’s road narratives, borderlines and categories of social difference are destabilized, but not fully undone (see Ganser, 2009). Simultaneously subversive and affirmative, Berlin’s short stories articulate this tension described by Ganser. 

My study explores Evening in Paradise to find answers to the following: what kind of spatial coping mechanisms do Berlin’s women characters have? What kind of parallels are created between these characters and the spaces they inhabit, and, more importantly, the spatial boundaries they transgress? What role does place as a geographical location (the Southwest of the United States) play in these stories? In examining spatiality, my study addresses thus far overlooked aspects in the textual world of Lucia Berlin, and offers insights regarding the role of women, space, and mobility in her work. 

BIO:
Nana Arjopalo has a PhD in English from the University of Turku, Finland; the title of her monograph is Narrating Deliverance: The Literary Double in the Writing of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri and Bharati Mukherjee (2023). Nana is employed as University Instructor and Team Leader of English and Intercultural Communication at Tampere University. In the past, she has translated both fiction and non-fiction, and has co-authored an EFL textbook, Work Matters: English for Working Life (2022). She has published on the applicability of René Girard’s mimetic theory in postcolonial contexts (Kulttuurintutkimus 36: 1, 2019) and contributed a chapter on the theoretical background of her doctoral dissertation to Working on It: PhD Research at the Department of English, University of Turku (2019). Her lectio praecursoria was recently published in Avain, a Finnish journal of literary studies (2023).  

Contact Information:
nana.arjopalo@tuni.fi 

Chloé Avril
Transnational Historical Fiction

ABSTRACT:
Sebastian Barry’s 2016 novel Days Without End could be described as a transnational tale par excellence: it is set in the US but is written by an Irish author. It deals with Irish immigration to the US but also with how the fate of Irish immigrants in their newfound nation is very much imbricated in that of other ethnic and racial groups. The novel also specifically concerns a key period of US nation-building starting during the “Indian Wars” and covering the Civil War and its aftermath. Finally, it centers a character whose gender identity is fluid, someone whom we may anachronistically call transgender. As historical fiction, the novel also helps illuminate another kind of boundary crossing, namely that between historical knowledge and historical fiction. This paper aims to start in the “interdisciplinary borderland” which is historical fiction (Demos) in order to ask how a novel like Days Without End can help our students grapple with complex questions about the formation of the US as a nation, the racial conflicts at its heart, both then and now, as well as the possibility of being both victim and perpetrator in those contexts. Moreover, according to Slotkin, “the [historical] novel imaginatively recovers the indeterminacy of a past time” giving us access to “alternative possibilities for belief, action, and political change, unrealized by history, which existed in the past” but have been “defeated or discarded in the struggles that produced the modern state.” In so doing, historical fiction, and this novel in particular, has the potential to take students beyond a sense of historical inevitability, and make them consider the question of agency not only in relation to the past but also in the present. 

BIO:
Chloé Avril is a lecturer at the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Gothenburg where she teaches courses in literature and cultural studies. Her research interests include American literature, gender studies, African American studies and popular culture. She is the author of The Feminist Utopian Novels of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Themes of Sexuality, Marriage, and Motherhood (2008), based on her PhD dissertation. She has published articles on topics including the representation of surrogacy in TV series, the autobiographies of Black Panther activists, and the fiction of Richard Yates. Her latest project focuses on historical fiction, and its significance as pedagogical material not least within the Pre-service teachers training program. 

Contact Information:
chloe.avril@sprak.gu.se 

Benjamin Balloy
Proxy Interactions: Managing Co-Presence in Cavelier de la Salle’s Explorations of the Mississippi Valley in the 1680s

ABSTRACT:
The analysis of colonial encounters resulting from European expansion and exploration in the interior of the North American continent should not be reduced to direct interactions. Proxy interactions, though more elusive and difficult to trace in historical documents, constitute a relatively unexplored aspect of colonial interaction between European and native societies. Cavelier de la Salle's successive explorations, from the St. Lawrence valley to the mouth of the Misssissippi at the turn of the 1680s, offer a particularly dense case study of French exploratory practices. This presentation will focus on practices of knowledge, recognition and production of traces, signs and messages. I propose to analyze them as ways of managing by proxy the co-presence and interaction - or avoidance - between explorers and native communities present in the vicinity but not always visible. Interaction by proxy contributed to making explorations of the continent's interior "thresholds", spatial devices that played a significant role in transforming the continent into a colonized and no longer merely claimed space.

BIO:
Dr Benjamin Balloy is a CNRS research fellow (French Center for Scientific Research) associated with Framespa (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès). His work focuses on Native American politics and diplomacy in the 17th and 18th centuries, and seeks to establish a dialogue between the social anthropology of the South American lowlands and historical approaches to the Gulf South region. He is the author of a book, Les Creek au 18e siècle. Mythologies, guerre, hiérarchie, les Indes savantes, 2023 as well as articles in French and English. His current research focuses on the place of death and mourning in the political construction and diplomatic practices of Native American communities.

Contact Information: 
benjamin.balloy@cnrs.fr

Frankie Bauer
Cherokee Wampum & Osage Calumets: Early Nineteenth-Century Intertribal Diplomacy in the Western Territories

ABSTRACT:
In the spring of 1815, Cherokee chief Tahlonteskee wrote a letter to the Missouri Territory governor discussing the buffalo hunting grounds. Tahlonteskee wrote, “Here I am, my land overwhelmed by strangers from all parts. I wish to be friendly with all and want a division between ourselves and others...When our father sent us here, he told us there was plenty of game, but to our sorrow, the French and others do not destroy less than five thousand buffalos every summer for no other profit but for the tallow.” The resources that his nation depended on were becoming less plentiful, and the Osage contested their use of the buffalo hunting grounds. The Cherokee and Osage had been somewhat amicable towards each other, yet the shrinking game resources were moving the two nations farther apart. Tahlonteskee states, “My father, the President, told me to take the Osages by the hand and instruct them. They are friendly, generous, but ignorant people. They have nothing but buffalos and other wild animals to raise their children upon. They have requested me to inform the President of the destruction of buffalos by the whites, an article so essential to their subsistence.” What seemed like a window for intertribal diplomacy, Cherokee diplomats taking the Osage's concerns to Washington would result in a massacre of Osage by a massive intertribal army two years later. This paper explores the dimensions of intertribal diplomacy, spotlighting how early nineteenth-century Cherokee and Osage established understandings about land and resource claims and stopped violence attributed to the loss of buffalo. This paper highlights the shifting balance of power in the Missouri Territory as Cherokees moved into the region. By shifting the narrative of intertribal disputes to one centering on diplomacy and resource claims, this paper seeks to illuminate how the Cherokee and Osage sought to maintain their boundaries while interacting in Native-led mediation efforts. 

BIO:
Frankie Bauer is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies department at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a Royster’s Society of Fellows award recipient. His research centers on Cherokee intertribal diplomacy in the western U.S. territories before the Indian Removal policies of the 1830s. Exploring the avenues the Cherokee circumvented in their encounters with new Native neighbors, his research positions intertribal diplomacy as a crucial aspect of Indigenous sovereignty. Frankie earned his BA degree from Middle Georgia State University in History (2015) and his MA degree from Western Carolina University in Cherokee Studies/History (2018). 

Contact Information:
hyphy18@live.unc.edu

Nancy Berke 
Dimming the Electric Lights: Reading North American Poetry and Visual Art of Modernist New York

ABSTRACT:
New York has long held the fascination of its visitors and residents. Its sights, sounds, and 24/7 spectacle has been the inspiration for the literary and visual arts, which helped define American modernism in the early twentieth century. Indeed, New York City was for North American poets and visual artists in the last century the cultural capital of the modernist aesthetic. Yet for some artists, New York was also a place to behold with a critical, skeptical eye. This paper, as part of a larger research project, highlights poets and visual artists, both canonical and overshadowed, who explored the contradictions of the New York modernist aesthetic. I discuss the prescient poetry of Lola Ridge (1873-1941), whom journalist and critic Matthew Josephson once called a “moaner of the machine age.” I will read Ridge’s work along with her contemporary poets, and graphic artists and illustrators such as Art Young and Cornelia Barns. I pose two questions: How did art produced with a critical, often satirical eye against the rapid expansion and insatiable yet planless development propose an alternative modernist urban aesthetic? What role did radical journals such as the Masses and New Masses, which published these poets and artists, play in promoting and sustaining this alternative modernist project? 

BIO:
Nancy Berke is the author of Women Poets on the Left: Lola Ridge, Genevieve Taggard, Margaret Walker (Florida, 2001). Her articles have appeared in Legacy, The Times Higher Education Supplement, American Studies, and assorted other publications. She has contributed chapters to a number of feminist anthologies, most recently A History of Twentieth Century American Women’s Poetry (Cambridge, 2016) and Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English (MLA 2021). Her paper “Teaching North American Literary Protest” was delivered at the 2022 Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference. She is Professor of English at LaGuardia College, City University of New York.   

Contact Information: 
nberke@lagcc.cuny.edu

Anne Bettina Pedersen
The Trope of the Beautiful Dead White Girl/Woman

ABSTRACT:
This paper examines the trope often referred to as ‘the Dead Girl’ or ‘the Beautiful Dead Girl’ as a U.S. and Western European cultural phenomenon. The trope haunts texts across geographical boundaries and seems to have been developed and maintained through a constant interweaving of real-life events and fiction as well as through exchanges back and forth across the Atlantic. Although the trope can be traced further back, I suggest that Edgar Allan Poe’s idea, in his 1846 essay “A Philosophy of Composition,” that “the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world” and the character Laura Palmer in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconic TV series Twin Peaks (1990-1991) represent ‘explosions’ of the phenomenon and have formed and nurtured the trope. While scholars and authors such as Elisabeth Bronfen (Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic (1992)) and Alice Bolin (Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession (2018)) comment on how beautiful female corpses saturate U.S. and Western European popular culture, they either overlook or do not explore in-depth the role that whiteness plays in the production of these texts/images and in the privileging of white victims at the expense of other victims. Drawing on works by Sara Ahmed, Toni Morrison, Mikki Kendall, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, and Richard Dyer, among others, I examine how various narratives featuring the trope link whiteness with concepts such as beauty, femininity, cleanliness/propriety, normativity, cisheteronormativity, innocence, grievability, and class. By remaining the trope ‘the Beautiful Dead White Girl/Woman,’ I make whiteness and the white supremacist logic behind the trope visible. 

BIO:
Anne Bettina Pedersen has a Master’s in American Studies from University of Southern Denmark, where she has also worked as an Assistant Lecturer. She is currently finishing her PhD dissertation at Aalborg University, while working as a high school English teacher. Her dissertation examines Sylvia Likens, who was murdered in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1965, as a U.S. cultural phenomenon. Pedersen has published articles and presented conference papers on topics such as Queer Death Studies, Family Estrangement, Textile/Needlework Research, Arts-Based Research, and her own experiences of being an academic with ADHD. 

Contact information:  
abpedersen@ikl.aau.dk 

Cynthia Blakely 
The Development of Narrative Identity in The Innermost House 

ABSTRACT:
This paper touches on vital aspects of autobiographical memory and the writing of place-based memoir. It melds stories from my precarious, working-class upbringing in a breathtakingly beautiful resort town, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, with scholarly commentary on how we remember, why we forget, and the choices we all, and especially memoirists, make in our curation of the past. Places and spaces, writes the neuroscientist Veronica O’Keane, are the anchor for memory and for feeling, and together they create “our very own psychogeography.”  This paper delves into the layered history and meanings of my childhood psychogeography on the Outer Cape, drawing on an interdisciplinary mix of personal and communal history, neuroscience, and psychology. It will show how personal stories, my “narrative ecology,” work in tandem with the environment to breathe life into those places, forming the foundation for my identity. This paper will touch on “impossible” memories; what makes a memory feel real; the selective, reconstructive, and collaborative nature of memory; the importance of oral histories and archives to place-based memoir writing, and the development of a narrative identity that helps preserve our sense of coherence in a multifaceted world. 

BIO:
Cynthia Blakeley is a writer, editor, and teacher. She received her BA from Trinity College, Hartford, and her PhD in interdisciplinary studies from Emory University. At eighteen she spent a year in Joensuu, Finland, as an AFS exchange student. Now an instructor in Emory University’s Institute for the Liberal Arts, she teaches courses in memory and memoir, interdisciplinary research methods, fiction, and theories of dream interpretation. She has also worked as a freelance academic editor for over twenty years. Her hybrid memoir, The Innermost House, is slated to be published by University of Massachusetts Press/Bright Leaf in Fall 2024. 

Contact Information: 
cblakel@emory.edu 

Douglas A. Boyd
Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: Using AI to Enhance Access to Archived Oral History

ABSTRACT:
From the archival perspective, researchers working with archived oral history collections increasingly need efficient access to these interviews and projects. As archives accelerate digitization efforts and as innovative digital tools provide affordable and empowering options for enhancing online access to archived oral history collections, archives are seeing exponential growth in their rates of access and usage of their oral history collections. Over a decade ago, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries in the United States created an open-source and free web-based platform called OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) to inexpensively and efficiently enhance access to oral history online. OHMS provides users with word-level search capability and a time-correlated transcript or index connecting the textual search term to the corresponding moment in the recorded interview online. In addition to transforming access to the Nunn Center's oral history collections, OHMS is now being utilized by over 700 institutions in over 50 countries. 

At present, all the metadata presented via OHMS has been human-generated. There is a current grant-funded initiative partnering with Dartmouth University to add features to OHMS that will better accommodate machine-generated transcripts and integrate named entity recognition (NER) and natural language processing technologies to semi-automate metadata creation, making cumbersome workflows of processing oral histories more efficiently. The Nunn Center has conducted over 100 oral history interviews with individuals in various roles in Kentucky's Bourbon (Whiskey) industry. This paper will explore a case study utilizing archived interviews from various Bourbon-related oral history projects to demonstrate the powerful possibilities for improving the efficiency of these semi-automated archival workflows in ways that will transform archival discovery, access, and visualisation capabilities for researchers. 

BIO:

Doug Boyd PhD directs the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. Boyd envisioned, designed, and implemented the open-source and free Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS), which synchronizes text with audio and video online. Boyd is the co-editor (with Mary Larson) of the book Oral History and Digital Humanities: Voice, Access, and Engagement published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2014, and he is the author of the book Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community published by the University Press of Kentucky.  Boyd served as president of the Oral History Association in the United States in 2016-2017 and conducted research in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar in 2019. Boyd managed the Oral History in the Digital Age initiative, authors the blog Digital Omnium, produces and hosts The Wisdom Project podcast, and has authored numerous articles pertaining to oral history, archives, and digital technologies.

Contact Information:
doug.boyd@uky.edu 

Anne Brixius 
DeSantis and Dissent

ABSTRACT:
In this paper, I explore why the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis’s administration rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies for high school students in January 2023. Claiming it not only violated state law, but also lacked educational value, the Florida Department of Education’s decision kicked off a controversy that the news media began reporting on immediately. This paper describes this case of public controversy by examining its coverage in Florida’s largest daily newspaper by circulation, the Miami Herald. Its further goal is to analyze the case as an instance of suppression of dissent of science in society. Exploring the College Board as an association with all its duties, as well as how the AP course on African American Studies has been developed, helps to showcase the quality of the course. It further emphasizes its potential value to students taking the AP course, while keeping in mind the state of Florida’s racial history. Focusing on the public outcry to the Florida Department of Education’s call that reached up to the highest levels of federal politics, this paper also highlights the controversy’s effects on North American Studies in terms of both future teaching and scientific knowledge production. Moreover, “DeSantis and Dissent” incorporates social scientific research on academic freedom, freedom of expression, and the effects of populism and the changing media landscape on these freedoms. Identifying the department’s rejection of the AP course as an attempt to gain more political control by suppressing dissent, this paper also inquires into Ron DeSantis’s history of making controversial changes to Florida’s education curriculum especially regarding how schools teach race as a social concept. While at first glance seemingly counterintuitive, my presentation additionally emphasizes how such attempts at gaining political control can be advantageous to society in the long run. 

BIO:
Anne Brixius is a doctoral researcher in History and Cultural Heritage, more specifically North American Studies, at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Having received a Master’s degree in English, Contemporary and Modern History, and General Linguistics from the Westfaelische Wilhelms - Universitaet Muenster, Germany and a Master’s degree in History from the University of Illinois at Chicago, she is currently working on her dissertation titled Free Fraeulein - German Women and African American Men During Germany’s Hunger Years, 1945-1949.

Contact Information:
anne.brixius@helsinki.fi

Erika Marie Bsumek
Unsettling Colonial Narratives: Rose Daniels, Indentured Servitude, and its Representation in Film and by Families

ABSTRACT:
Rose Daniels was born sometime around 1850 near the western boundary of the Navajo Nation in the Southwestern United States. When she was ~6 years old, she was kidnapped by Ute Indians and later “sold to Mr. Daniels”, a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) patriarch, who eventually took her to Provo, Utah as an indentured servant. By the 1920s, Rose had become a semi-celebrity of sorts and various white authors sought her out to interview her. Cecil B. DeMille loosely based the movie Squaw Man on her story. My presentation will explore how different entities have interpreted and claimed Rose’s story for competing purposes ranging from creating a narrative about race relations as DeMille did in his movies to teaching Americans in the arid West how to dry farm and grow “victory gardens” during World War II. Referencing the field of memory studies, settler colonial studies, and an analysis, this paper will demonstrate the myriad ways that different groups have layered on their own understandings of Rose’s life and how it relates to the history of the region, Native American history, and key episodes in American history. 

BIO:
Dr. Bsumek has written on Native American history, environmental history/studies, the history of the built environment, and the history of the U.S. West. She is the author of the award-winning, Indian-made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1848-1960 (University Press of Kansas, 2008) and the coeditor of a collection of essays on global environmental history titled Nation States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to International Environmental History (Oxford University Press, 2013). Her current research explores the social and environmental history of the area surrounding Glen Canyon on the Utah/Arizona border from the 1840s to the present. The title of her latest book with the University of Texas Press is The Foundations of Glen Canyon Dam: Infrastructures of Dispossession on the Colorado Plateau (2023). She is also working on a larger project that examines the impact that large construction projects (dams, highways, cities, and suburbs) had on the American West which is tentatively titled The Concrete West: Engineering Society and Culture in the Arid West, 1900-1970 and a biography of a Navajo woman who was enslaved by the Utes, sold to LDS settlers, and then who became a well-known figure in the region and beyond tentatively titled Unsettling Narratives: Rose Daniels, Indentured Servitude, and the Creation of an American Symbol.  

Dr. Bsumek has written op-eds for publications such as Time, the Austin American Statesman, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera America, and the Pacific Standard. She has been a Provost's Teaching Fellow and has been named a UT-Austin Academy of Distinguished Teacher and a UT System Regents Distinguished Teaching Professor. 

She is also the creator of a digital timeline and network mapping software platform called ClioVis, which enables students and researchers to create time-aligned network maps of their class/research projects. The platform currently serves over 16,000 students. She is also the lead scholar on the Radical Hope Syllabus Project and the coordinator of the website.

Contact Information:
embsumek@austin.utexas.edu

Scott E. Buchanan 
Political Alienation in the U.S South: The Impact of Declining Civic Engagement on Voting

ABSTRACT:
Since 2016, much discussion and speculation has gone into understanding the Donald Trump phenomenon. Ever since his surprise election to the American Presidency, Trump has continued to dominate American, even world, politics over the last 8 years, despite his reelection defeat in 2020. In an attempt to understand the 2016 election cycle, Timothy Carney (2019) delves into the complex dynamics of social and economic alienation in contemporary American society. Using a variety of socioeconomic data in selected communities, Carney’s argument asserts that the decline of community institutions, such as churches and civic organizations, has led to a sense of alienation and disconnection among individuals in various parts of the United States. 

The limit on Carney’s work though is that he tended to focus on communities in the Midwest, Rust Belt, and Washington, D.C. area. Notably missing was any discussion of the American South. A deeper examination of the South though reveals a region that is in significant social and political transition. Bullock, MacManus, Mayer, and Rozell (2019) argue that the South of the early 21st century had moved beyond the relatively simple black/white dichotomy that Key (1949) saw as explaining Southern politics. Rather, Bullock et al (2019) posit that a new bifactionalism is emerging in the region: growth states and stagnant states.   

Using the arguments posited by Carney, Bullock, et al, and others, this paper will investigate whether there is a difference in community institutions between growth and stagnant states in the U.S. South.  Further, we plan to examine critical socio-economic indicators, including income inequality, social capital, educational attainment, and religious participation, to gauge the level of alienation within Alabama and Georgia. 

BIO: 
Scott E. Buchanan is professor of political science at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia and the 2019-2020 FFF Bicentennial Chair in American Studies. His research focuses on American politics and the politics of the American South. 

 

Contact Information:
scott.buchanan@gcsu.edu
 

Sanskriti Chattopadhyay
She Tells a Tale: Helen Cordero's Haptic Negotiations with Decoloniality

ABSTRACT:
Where lies the importance of a tale - in the narrative or in the act of telling? Can a story be told in ‘images’? Can images be ‘more than visual’? Centred around these questions, this proposed paper wishes to study the works of famous Cochiti Pueblo artist Helen Cordero in a different light. Cordero, despite her late beginning and lack of any formal training in pottery, became well-known for a specific set of pottery she made, named story-telling dolls. Modelled after the storytelling moments of her own grandfather and many more from her immediate memory - these dolls become temporal tools. Through these tools, this paper will propose an argument for a shift of the Renaissance visual consciousness to a craft consciousness (Smith, 2004), where Cordero can be seen re-situating the prominence of the haptic in the optic.

The artisanal practice of pottery, historically, has been more than an art practice. It is argued to be a practice of knowledge, an act that can orient a society, and a way to envisage the world and cosmology. Cordero approaches this from another way. Through her embodied practice she centralises a performance of embodied memory, b, reclaims the knowledge position of the haptic craft, and c, creates a unique temporal gesture where an object made in the second half of the 20th century can carry a sense of timelessness. 

Through this set of strategic scaffolding of propositions this research paper would negotiate Cordero’s art as a negotiation of decoloniality. If decoloniality is seen at its base as a categorical destabilisation of European logocentricism, then Cordero offers a sensitive and sense-able possibility to do just that. 

BIO:
Sanskriti Chattopadhyay is conducting artistic research at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She has two post-graduate degrees in Film Direction and Screenplay Writing (Film and Television Institute India, India) and in Literary and Cultural Studies (The English and Foreign Language University, India). Interested in the cultural heritage of the landscape she has been born into, often her work is informed by the same. She has been academically presenting at various Universities, like - the Lifetime Conference (Norway), Uncanny Intermediality Conference (Romania), the 17th International conference on Arts (Spain), 5th and 6th Congress of Bengal Studies (Bangladesh). Her publications include - Anales de history del arte, Swaraantar, and Caesurae. She has also been a part of several artistic research projects – at the Hungarian School of Fine arts (Budapest), SAAR Gothenburg, Lucerne School of Art and Design, Switzerland (2021), Film University Babelsberg, Konrad Wolf (2020, 2019) and BRICS collaboration with WITS Film and Television, SA and Valand Film Programme, India Chapter (2018).

Contact Information:
sanskritichattopadhyay222@gmail.com 

Cathleen Clark 
It is a North American Movement’: Red Power as Indigenous Diplomacy

From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, Indigenous supporters of the Red Power movement operated on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. Red Power is well-documented in the United States but has received little scholarly attention in Canada. Despite significant overlap, the respective national historiographies of the movement have developed largely independently from one another. Many Canada-based Indigenous peoples travelled to participate in high-profile Red Power events like the takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969, the Trail of Broken Treaties in 1972, and the Siege of Wounded Knee in 1973. In 1974, as the American Indian Movement (AIM) dealt with state repression and legal consequences in the fallout after Wounded Knee, the Red Power movement’s primary nucleus of activity shifted to Canada. The flow of Indigenous activists reversed and U.S-based AIM members appeared at several significant confrontations north of the border that summer. This paper argues that the reproduction of histories that divide the movement along settler national lines undermines the intervention of Indigenous peoples who conceived of Red Power as an intertribal expression of Indigenous sovereignty that resisted those very same settler impositions. By bringing Red Power’s distinct national historiographies into conversation with one another and reframing cross-border protest solidarity as part of a longer tradition of Indigenous diplomacy, it suggests that a broader North American framing offers a timely opportunity to reevaluate the movement’s scope, periodization, actors, and objectives. More forceful engagement with the cross-border dynamic of Red Power invites reconsideration of the movement’s apparent waning in the 1970s as it gave way to the ‘international turn’ in Indigenous rights organizing. 

BIO:
Cathleen Clark is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto. She is a settler scholar whose work contributes to national and transnational histories of Indigenous rights movements, postwar Canada, and the global Sixties. She is currently revising her recently defended Ph.D. dissertation titled Pathways of Resistance: Indigenous Rights Activism from Red Power to the Fourth World for publication. It examines the multifaceted trajectories of intertribal Indigenous political resistance within and outside Canada from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. 

Contact Information:
 cathleen.clark@mail.utoronto.ca

Daniel Cobb 
A Window into Wider Worlds: D’Arcy McKickle’s Diary as Transnational Tale

 

ABSTRACT:
One of the twentieth-century’s most important American Indian intellectuals, writers, and political actors, D’Arcy McNickle (1904-1977) lived a remarkable and unexpected life that subverted settler colonial expectations and spatial geographies. “A Window into Wider Worlds” draws from McNickle’s diary to explore how, focusing particularly on a transatlantic voyage that carried this citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation in Montana, from New York to France in the early 1930s. This sojourn, in turn, provides an opportunity to discuss the ways in which McNickle’s diary opens still other windows into wider worlds—all of which challenge conventional and contemporary notions of Indigeneity in his time and our own.

BIO:
Daniel M. Cobb is Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he serves as Co-Chair of the Dean’s Working Group on Global Indigeneity, Coordinator of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Chair. He has also served as Assistant Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at The Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois (2003-2004), the Fulbright Bicentennial Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Helsinki (2017-2018), and Visiting Researcher at the University of Tübingen (May-July 2019). An award-winning writer and teacher, his publications include Beyond Red Power (2007), Native Activism in Cold War America (2008), Say We Are Nations (2015), and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. His passion for public-facing scholarship can be found in his Great Courses devoted to Native North America, which was produced in partnership with the Teaching Company and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian History (2016), public programs and exhibitions devoted to American Indian activism, activists, and memory, and an ongoing digital project inspired by the diary of Flathead writer and intellectual D’Arcy McNickle.

Contact Information:
dcobb@unc.edu

Daniel Cobb & Alan Winkler 
North American Songs of Solidarity and Protest

MUSIC SESSION ABSTRACT:

North American Songs of Solidarity and Protest features a range of songs—from folk and blues to rock and roll—that provide a window on the ways in which music has played a central role in freedom and justice movements across the twentieth century and into our present time. 

PERFOMER BIOS: 
Daniel M. Cobb is Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he serves as Co-Chair of the Dean’s Working Group on Global Indigeneity, Coordinator of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Associate Chair. 

Allan M. Winkler is University Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Miami University of Ohio. He has also taught at Yale and at the Universities of Oregon, Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Nairobi. A prize-winning teacher, he is author of 13 books, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Making of Modern America, Life Under a Cloud: American Anxiety about the Atom, Home Front U.S.A.: America during World War II and To Everything There Is a Season: Peter Seeger and the Power of Song.  A prize-winning teacher, he has won teaching awards at every institution where he has taught.  He served as the 3rd Bicentennial Professor of American Studies in Finland in 1978-1979, and has been coming to the Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference every year that it has been held.

Contact Information:
Daniel Cobb ( dcobb@unc.edu)
Alan Winkler (winkleam@miamioh.edu

Maurice Crandell 
“The Curious Case of Captain Smiley”: Apache Scout Veterans as Community Servants in the Early Twentieth Century

ABSTRACT:
This presentation explores the intriguing case of a former U.S. Army Apache Scout, Ismalee, known to whites as Captain or Major Smiley. Smiley had served as a Scout in various engagements during the so-called Apache Wars of the 1870s–80s. Beginning in the 1910s, there began to be questions about Smiley’s service record. Some claimed that he had been awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor (he had not), while others asserted he possessed a medal given to him by the President of the United States for having personally captured Geronimo, the famed Apache leader whose numerous “breakouts” from New Mexico and Arizona reservations terrified civilians in the Southwestern United States (he had not personally captured Geronimo). Still others claimed that he was a fake, and that he had fabricated a story and exaggerated his military service. Smiley’s story caught the attention of numerous individuals for decades, until his death in1936. The New York Times even carried his obituary. I seek to clarify and bring greater understanding to Ismalee’s story and legacy. I do so for several reasons. Most importantly, he is my ancestor, and his story deserves clarification for his descendants and our tribal history. Second, while there is a vast historiography on the military contributions of the Apache Scouts, very little has been written about these men’s actions after the wars ended and they returned to their communities. Lastly, I believe that whatever the “true” nature of his military service, Ismalee leveraged his status as an Army veteran and military pensioner in order to gain better treatment from racist whites living in nearby communities during a time of incredible poverty and hardship for Apaches in Arizona. If he exaggerated his military record, whether unintentionally or willfully, he did so to the benefit of his oppressed people.

BIO:
Maurice Crandall is a citizen of the Yavapai-Apache Nation of Camp Verde, Arizona. He received his PhD in History from the University of New Mexico in 2015. He joined the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University as Associate Professor of History in August, 2022. He is a historian of the Indigenous peoples of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Before coming to Arizona State, he was a research fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, and Assistant Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies at Dartmouth College. Crandall's 2019 monograph, These People Have Always Been a Republic: Indigenous Electorates in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1598–1912 (University of North Carolina Press), won the 2020 Caughey Western History Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West, the 2020 Weber-Clements Prize for best non-fiction book on Southwestern America, and a 2020 Southwest Book Award.

Professor Crandall's current book project (under contract with Liveright/W.W. Norton) examines the roles played in their communities by Dilzhe'e Apaches and Yavapais who served as Scouts in the U.S. Army. He is particularly interested in how these men, as experienced border-crossers, served their communities after the so-called Indian Wars had concluded, from the 1890s to the 1930s.

Contact Information:
Maurice.Crandall@asu.edu

Ian Danner 
Felt Entanglements in Art Education: Materiality, Process, and Affect of Fibers

ABSTRACT:
Fiber crafts offer queer students a material, process-oriented, and affective vocabulary to explore identity, as textile construction methods take binary/nonbinary and linear/nonlinear forms (e.g. weaving/felting) These textile methods can be thought of as tactile metaphors that can be used to combat socially prescribed binaries, including gender and sexuality. We do not think often enough about how we can educate and be educated ‘through’ materials. Utilizing a New Materialist lens, we can see materials as having agency and knowledge that we can learn from, and by acknowledging the unknown and respecting how ‘learning’ is emergent, we can unlock these ‘knowledges’ through interactions with materials. Conceptualizing ‘felt’ as a process, reframes the perception of ‘art’ as finished objects and empowers queer identities to see themselves in the making process. ‘Failure’ to comply with previously established ways of knowing materials is the potential for queer success and emergent possibilities as Jack Halberstam suggests. 

Additionally, craft-based making practices amplify queer voices through their ability to support the imagined, more-than-rational, and futuristic possibilities instead of current realities. By offering students the resources to engage with textile making, we can implement a ‘critical research approach’ to craft, as Sirpa Kokko states, by having students investigate the cultural and historical context of fiber art and its intersections with power and gender. In implementing such pedagogy, we encourage affective reflection in identity-building toward self-actualization in the classroom. ‘Felt’ as affect also supports a ‘craft-based community of practice’ as Rudy Dunlap theorizes, as queer communities can build camaraderie through a shared understanding of highly-specific textile vocabulary and reclaim craftwork as a subversive preservation practice. This research is interested in transnational dialogues between the implementation of fiber craft education in the United States and Finnish/Swedish educational sloyd pedagogies toward the liberation of queer identities through the art.

BIO:
Ian Danner (he/him) is an artist/researcher/educator pursuing a Master of Science (MS) in Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in textile from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). His current research interests include fiber/craft pedagogy, new materialism, queer/feminist ecology, and research-creation methodology.

Contact Information:
 ipd5074@psu.edu 

James Diedrick 
A New England Yankee in Gladstone’s Court: John Jay Chapman and the Limits of Liberalism

ABSTRACT:
On 13 August 1911, a white mob in Coatesville Pennsylvania attacked the Black steelworker Zachariah Walker and burned him alive in retaliation for the death during a drunken brawl of Edgar Rice, a white steel company security guard. One year to the day after this killing, the Progessive-era activist and cultural critic John Jay Chapman (1862-1933) gave a memorial address in which he said this killing revealed a “picture of the American heart and of the American nature. . . . the heart of the criminal—a cold thing, an awful thing.” In his address Chapman links this “American nature” to the slave trade and its legacy—one of his many attacks on the dehumanizing effects of capitalism which began with his 1898 book Causes and Consequences. 

While the moral fury characterizing Chapman’s activism and writings during these years stands in striking contrast to his earlier political gradualism, this conference paper will argue for an intellectual throughline linking these two periods in his career. It will do so by analyzing his heretofore unremarked-upon friendship with Mary Gladstone, which began with his 1885 visit to England and his meetings with the Gladstone family. Notably, Chapman shared Mary’s enthusiasm for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1859 novel The Minister’s Wooing, set in eighteenth-century New England, in which Stowe uses the slave trader Simeon Brown to expose the interrelationship of slavery, patriarchy, and doctrinaire theology. Their extensive correspondence about, and receptivity to, the implications of Stowe’s novel came at a time when both were developing social and political views at odds with those of their fathers. Exploring the roots of inequality led them both to question the efficacy of national liberalism in their respective countries.   

BIO: 
James Diedrick is Professor Emeritus of English at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia. His research interests include Anglo-American literature and culture, the Victorian fin-de-siècle, and film studies. He is the author of Mathilde Blind: Late-Victorian Culture and the Woman of Letters (UVA Press, 2016) and Understanding Martin Amis (USC Press; first edition, 1995; revised and expanded edition). He is the editor editor of Mathilde Blind: Selected Fin-de-Siècle Poetry and Prose (MRHA, 2021), and co-editor of Depth of Field: Stanley Kubrick, Film, and the Uses of History (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006). He has published articles and book chapters on American writers ranging from Upton Sinclair to Elizabeth Robins Pennell and British writers ranging from Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens to John Ruskin and George Eliot. He is currently at work on a project analyzing affinities and convergences between Gladstonian liberalism and the New Woman movement in fin-de-siècle British culture.   

Contact Information:
james.diedrick@gmail.com

Sean Dinces, Elliot Gorn, Christopher Lamberti (1975-2021)

The Spirit of Revolt: A Reappraisal of Black Veterans in Chicago’s Red Summer (Sean Dinces)

Rethinking the Chicago 1919 Race Riot: A Reappraisal of Black Veterans in Chicago’s Red Summer (Elliot Gorn)

ABSTRACT:

In 2013, Christopher Lamberti completed his history dissertation at Brown University.  Titled, “Riot Zone: Chicago 1919,” it was a rethinking of the horrific Chicago race riot, one of many that plagued the US in that era.  “Riot Zone” was very innovative—Lamberti mapped the South Side to help discover who was involved, he explored the importance of the nearby Chicago stockyards, and he speculated on the significance of the thousands of soldiers, especially Black soldiers, recently returned to the city from World War I.  Before he could revise and publish “Riot Zone,” Chris developed brain cancer; he passed away in 2021. 

This panel revolves around his research on the history of Chicago's 1919 race riot. Two of his colleagues, Elliott Gorn (who directed the dissertation at Brown) and Sean Dinces (who finished his own dissertation alongside his friend Chris) are revising the dissertation for publication. Dr. Lamberti’s work sheds new light on the riot through, among other things, the creation of an impressive series of maps which call into question long-running assumptions about why the riot began and who took part in it.  We will present his work and show how it contributes to the historiography of America's Red Summer, the important role that mapping can play in better understanding the history of racial violence in the U.S., and the ongoing challenges of separating fact from fiction in primary source accounts of 1919.  We will also discuss the process of revising the manuscript—adding some new mapping, deepening the argument about the importance of Black soldiers, expanding Chris’s ideas on the importance of immigrants, work and labor on the South Side. 

BIOS:
Christopher Lamberti took his PhD in History from Brown University in 2013. 

Sean Dinces finished at Brown in 2013. He is the author of Bulls Markets: Chicago’s Basketball Business and the New Inequality. He teaches at Long Beach City College. 

Elliott Gorn teaches at Loyola University Chicago.  He is author most recently of Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till.

Contact Information:
Elliot Gorn (egorn@luc.edu)
Sean Dinces (sdinces@lbcc.edu)

Ernesto Dominguez Lopez
United States, the world-system and the evolution of knowledge capitalism

ABSTRACT:
The decades since World War II witnessed a series of fundamental transformations in all spheres of human activity. Dominguez Lopez (2022; 2017), Dominguez Lopez & Barrera Rodriguez (2023; 2018) and Stehr (2022) interpret the key process of the period as the formation of knowledge capitalism. From different perspectives, rooted in history, political economy and sociology, they describe what appears as a distinct stage in the history of capitalism as mode of production. The United States emerged as the scenario for the earliest and probably most visible expression of this transition, and thus as an important object of study. The political economy and economic structure of the North American country changed dramatically via de-industrialization and tertiarization; its social structure saw the ascend and then the near collapse of the so call middle class, which in turn experienced deep transformations of its composition, social mobility and livelihood, in the heels of large swings in the behaviour of social inequality indicators and important demographic processes; political identities and demands, as well as political platforms and contradictions mutated as new cleavages formed and old ones acquired new shapes and dimensions. All identities, perceptions, preferences and conflicts changed to different degrees. This means that many traditional analytical models need to be adjusted or replaced. Also, this systemic change was not contained by the limits of the nation-State, and as such it cannot be explained within those traditional boundaries. Such transformation demands an explanation of acting mechanisms and identifiable principles and trends. This paper presents three main points: First, a brief systematization of the available evidence of the formation of knowledge capitalism in the United States; second, an approach to the process from the perspective of world-systems analysis; third, a second layer of explanation from an evolutionary perspective. 

BIO: 
Ernesto Dominguez Lopez. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1976. Doctor in Historical Sciences from the University of Havana, Cuba (2011). Doctoral Candidate in Political Sciences at the University of Rostock, Germany. Since 2012, Full Professor at the Center for Hemispheric and United States Studies-University of Havana. Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham (UK) and at the University of Sancti Spiritus (Cuba). He has been visiting professor, visiting scholar, guest professor and/or guest lecturer in around 30 universities and other academic institutions from Cuba, United States, Argentina, Colombia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Finland, Belgium, Greece and Spain. Dominguez Lopez has published or have been accepted to publish around 50 articles and 20 chapters in academic books and journals. He has authored two books and edited other 4. He´s currently co-editing two books and writing two more. Hs lines of research include US politics, history and foreign policy; theory of history; political theory; international relations; geopolitics; economic history and political economy.

Contact Information:

edominguezlopez76@gmail.com

Dalia González Delgado
Immigration policy and right-wing populism in the United States

ABSTRACT: 
The paper explores the impact of populism on the formulation of immigration policy in the United States in the 21st century. The legislation passed in that country to deal with the different flows of immigrants were the result of debates about the economic, social, cultural and national security consequences of immigration. As in previous periods of history, in recent years immigration policy has been selective for certain groups, and the trend observed is towards restrictions of several kinds. In this context, the rise of populism has renewed nativist sentiments among certain social groups, and has served as a platform for the emergence of phenomena such as so-called Trumpism. The discourse of right-wing populism, which presents immigrants as a threat, has shaped debates and policies on migration. 

BIO:
Dalia González Delgado: (La Habana, 1989). Assistant Professor, Center for Hemispheric and United States Studies, University of Havana, Cuba. BA in Journalism (2011) and Master in Contemporary History from the University of Havana (2015). Doctoral student in Historical Sciences at the University of Havana, with research about the evolution of US immigration policy in the US Congress trough time. Her works have been published in academic magazines and books in Cuba, Mexico and Argentina, and in the press in Cuba and the United States. Moreover, her research interests include the study of the American political system, policymaking processes, and US-Cuba relations. She teaches courses and lectures on American history and political system and US-Cuba relations.  

Contact Information: daliagonzalez.uh@gmail.com  dgonzalezd@cehseu.uh.cu 

 
Elliot Gorn 
Haunted by Waters 

ABSTRACT: 
The title comes from the final words of Norman Maclean’s novella, A River Runs Through It.  “Haunted by Waters” is not so much a discussion of Maclean’s lovely book as a memoir piece in conversation with it.  I grew up in Los Angeles and ended up living in Chicago. Memoirs turn on events or characters or places or things.  This one turns on water, the lack of it in Los Angeles and its abundance on the shores of Lake Michigan. Writing this was an opportunity to think about the importance of landscape and environment in the life I know best, my own.  Along the way, I talk a bit about water in American literature, in popular culture, and in history.  Mostly, I talk about Los Angeles in American memory.  No large conclusions are drawn.  Few lessons are learned.  This is not part of a larger project, just an occasional meditation of an old guy trying to put shape to his life. This will be the second time I have done something like this at MLE; I think the first one went pretty well, or so I’m told.

BIO:
Elliott Gorn teaches history at Loyola University, Chicago. He is author most recently of Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till, and Mother Jones, The Most Dangerous Woman in America. He is trying to finish a book to be titled, Violent Men, is also working on a photo essay (with Kenneth Sacks) on Colma California, San Francisco’s necropolis.  Gorn was Fulbright Bicentennial Fellow in Finland in 2009-2010. 

Contact Information: 
egorn@luc.edu

Inna Häkkinen
Addressing Uncertainty in Fictionalizing U.S. Nuclear Emergency Management Actors: Intermedial Ecocriticism Frames

ABSTRACT:
Framing energy literacy across various media modalities occurs by applying intermediality’ perspectives for the role of nuclear energy policy agencies in communicating the energetic history of humanity. The emphasis on studying the fictional responses to situating the national/international frames of U.S. nuclear policy authorities, including nuclear emergency management actors, within nuclear fictional writings not only helps distinguish the emotionalization of debating the nuclear past within national/transnational nuclear narratives, not only highlights the ‘factual/fictional’ of storytelling the nuclear history of the U.S. and beyond, but also contributes to researching the narrative dimensions of reconsidering ‘apocalyptic’ rhetoric of debating ‘the nuclear’, which allows regarding nuclear fiction a tool of fostering energy (nuclear) literacy. In this concern, Bruhn’s frames of intermediality (Bruhn 2021) with its emphasis on emotionalization of transmitting scientific knowledge bring into the spotlight the U.S. nuclear policy in fictional writing via amalgamating fictional/factual narratives, enabling to ‘initiate fusions and ‘dialogues’ between various media’ (Pethö 2011). The presentation outlines the narrative tools of envisioning ‘uncertainty’  (social, scientific, ethical etc)  (French 2020), resulting from ambiguity and lack of clarity (French 1997; Snowden 2002; Walkeretal 2003), in implicating the U.S. nuclear emergency management actors in nuclear fictional writings for framing ‘spatiotemporal modality’ (Elleström 2020) of narrating the U.S. nuclear past and the possible scenarios of the nuclear future, which ‘not only mirrors and represents reality but also shadows, extends, reshapes, and transforms it’ (Ivakhiv 2013). The presentation highlights the literary dimensions of addressing uncertainties’ models in the contemporary U.S. nuclear fictional writings – Barbara C. Billig and Bett Pohnka’s The Nuclear Catastrophe: A Fiction Novel of Survival (2011) and James Reich’s Bombshell (2013) – which enables to envision the amalgamation of fictional/factual narratives of situating the U.S. nuclear emergency management within intermedial ecocritical frames. 

BIO:
Inna Häkkinen, PhD is a visiting researcher of Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub, the Department of Cultures, the University of Helsinki. Her current research project is on the literary dimensions of nuclear energy in nuclear fiction within literary energy narrative studies. She co-teaches/coordinates ‘Nuclear Narrative Studies’ and ‘Chernobyl Studies’ courses at the University of Helsinki (Aleksanteri Institute). After defending her PhD in Literary Studies (Dnipro, Ukraine), she has been a research fellow of Erasmus Mundus (Bologna, 2008; Turku, 2011-2012), Cambridge Colleges Hospitality Scheme (2013), JYU Fellowship Program (Jyväskylä, 2021), PIASt Fellowship Program (Warsaw, 2022), IASK Fellowship Program (Köszeg, 2023). Her research interests lie within environmental humanities, energy humanities, ecocriticism, nuclear criticism.

Contact Information:

inna.sukhenko@helsinki.fi 

 

Anne Healy 
COME FROM AWAY: Musical Theatre As A Purely Canadian Embodiment  

ABSTRACT:
The connections between the United States and Canada have always been strong. Although the countries share a common border and language, Americans can be perceived to focus on their careers, social mobility, and self-fulfillment while Canadians often pride themselves on tolerance, cooperation, and mutual respect.  When the United States was under siege on 9/11/2001 and the Federal Aviation Administration decided to shut down its airspace forcing thousands of planes to land, the town of Gander, Newfoundland became a refuge for many passengers, including Americans.  In the week following the attacks, the town found itself hosting the ”come from aways” (a phrase used by native Newfoundlanders to describe those not born on the island) who provided food, clothing, and shelter.  The award-winning musical COME FROM AWAY, developed by the Canadian Musical Theatre Project based on the events of September 2001, now serves as a proud representation of what it means to be Canadian in a world that is increasingly divided. While creating a musical re-telling of this event might seem strange, the musical has been described as irresistible, inspiring, and “a triumph of both the human spiriti and musical theatre.” (Sunday Express) This paper will discuss the development of this musical, its evolution, and critical reviews describing how the writers utilized a traditional American musical theatre form to tell the story that is uniquely Canadian. Comparative case studies and musical theatre libretto and music structures will be examined.

BIO: 

Anne Healy is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where she teaches Directing and Musical Theatre and is currently the Department Chair.  Anne earned her bachelors and master's degrees in Musical Theatre and a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies focusing on Theatre and Musical Theatre. An Equity actor, she has appeared Off-Broadway and at major regional theatres.  An associate member of SDC, recent directing includes the Tony Award winning Dallas Theatre Center as Assistant Director Raisin in the Sun and as a Directing Observer for My Paris with Kathleen Marshall at Goodspeed Musicals in CT.  Anne is a resident director at the Priscilla Beach Theatre in MA. Recently directed at UTA: The Theory of Relativity (Regional Premiere), Troupers: A Musical Vaudeville (World Premiere), West Side Story, The Music Man, Ragtime, and See What I Wanna See. Anne’s co-written chapter on the musical theatre director was published in The Routledge Companion to Musical Theatre in December 2022.  

Contact Information: 
healy@uta.edu

Niko Heikkilä  
Abortion Travels and the Strategies of Surveillance in Texas

ABSTRACT:

In 2022, the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Ever since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established constitutional protections for reproductive choices, abortion has been a highly contentious and salient political and cultural issue in the United States. Abortion has united various coalitions within the U.S. to organize against and for abortion rights. At the same time, abortion has been a powerful and dividing force at the heart of the so-called culture wars. In short, abortion has been and is an issue that can energize movements and organizations on both sides. This presentation examines two relevant developments and historical patterns regarding the question of abortion, focusing on Texas. Firstly, in the past, women have crossed both internal state borders and international borders to travel for abortions. For example, prior to Roe v. Wade, women in the U.S. traveled to countries like Japan, Sweden, and England to obtain abortions. Today, in states like Texas, where abortion is now illegal, women seeking abortions have to cross either state borders or, in some cases, international borders. Secondly, the methods and means of surveilling and policing abortion travels have also advanced. In 2021, Texas passed the Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which allows private citizens to sue persons suspected of assisting in abortions, and some Texas cities and counties have since passed ordinances banning abortion and travel for abortion. Taking these two developments together, this presentation examines the strategies of surveillance developed by officials and private citizens and organizations in relation to abortion travels in Texas. The presentation also focuses on the historical patterns to highlight the relevance of these, at times, overlooked themes to the contentious issue of abortion. 

BIO:
Niko Heikkilä is a postdoctoral researcher at the John Morton Center for North American Studies at the University of Turku. He works in the Academy of Finland-funded “Reproduction Wars: Imaginaries and Mobilizations in the U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region” (REPRO) project. In the project, Heikkilä examines the policing and meanings of women’s reproduction in Texas, focusing on how anti-abortion groups organize people to surveil abortion seekers and providers. Heikkilä received his Ph.D. in Cultural History from the University of Turku in 2021. His previous research has focused on the contemporary history of social movements and social conflict in the U.S., as well as issues of social control and repression and the meanings of social change and reaction.  

Contact Information: 
njheik@utu.fi

Benita Heiskanen
Re-envisioning the Field of Transnational U.S.-Cuba Studies

ABSTRACT:

This paper is a theoretico-methodological reflection on transnational and transdisciplinary fieldwork conducted in Havana, Cuba and Miami, Florida. The paper considers visuality as a tool in fieldwork practice by studying groups’ and individuals’ exercising of visual agency, spatial claims, and practices of looking in urban space. On the one hand, the paper explores the ways in which various groups occupy and use urban public space for visual messaging to communicate with one another; on the other hand, it explores the scholar’s delineation of the object of study through maneuvering in urban space. In so doing, the paper reflects on the practical, ethical, and epistemological questions involved in the interrelationship between practices of looking, fieldwork research, and knowledge formation. The paper argues that visuality provides a window into alternative participation in public dialogue, penetrating messaging that might be overlooked and providing agency and mobility that might otherwise be beyond reach. To assess fieldwork specifically from the perspective of Transnational American Studies, the paper emphasizes the intersection of parallel theoretical, methodological, and ethical discussions shaping knowledge production. The reflection on the theoretical and ethical ramifications that any particular methodological choices carry with regards to knowledge formation and everyday power dynamics enables a rethinking of the scholar’s practices of looking, sensory perception, and spatial maneuvering as a critical part of the research process, issues that apply to all of us as researchers but that are far too often neglected in scholarship. 

BIO:

Benita Heiskanen is Professor of North American Studies and Director of the John Morton Center at the University of Turku, Finland. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and has since then worked in American Studies in Ireland, Denmark, and Finland. Her current research interests include Transnational American Studies, USA-Cuba relations, U.S. gun culture & politics, visual culture, and space and place. Methodologically, she specializes in transdisciplinary research methods, ethnography, oral history, and visual analysis. Theoretically, she is interested in the politics of visual culture and the ethics of looking; the geography of the body, space, and place; and race, class, and gender formations. She currently directs a project on urban transformation in Havana, which is funded by the Kone Foundation as well as a four-year Academy of Finland -funded project, “Reproduction Wars: Imaginaries and Mobilizations in the U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region.” She is a frequent commentator in Finnish media about U.S. history, society, and culture.

Contact Information:
benita.heiskanen@utu.fi

Kathy Hilliard 
Getting By and Getting Through: Liminal Spaces and African American Economic Networks in the American Civil War

ABSTRACT:
Retrieving the daily struggles of forgotten southerners, black and white, to “get by” amid the upheaval of Civil War and emancipation, this paper shows how these men and women pushed through--sometimes deliberately, as often against their own wishes--to a terrain of political and economic liminality, where the enslaved were enslaved no longer and masters more than half mastered. It explores the dynamics of revolutionary change by close analysis of particular moments where informal economic exchange tipped over into revolutionary political intentionality. 

Exploring the surprisingly porous border between slavery and freedom, I bring to light the travels and travails of enslaved people who crossed and recrossed Confederate and Union lines to seek market opportunities born of war’s disruption. The struggle to “get by” in a regime of growing economic instability and surprising opportunity created remarkable webs of unregulated exchange and distribution. A chicken, a bolt of cloth, even a scrap of paper scrawled with precious words might suddenly become, more than an item of economic contest, a subject of confounding political struggle. Illicit means and back channels brought southerners into confrontation with hopeful dreams and dread fears for their individual fates and communal fortunes. 

This paper examines the unlikely distance Southerners traveled at the hour of Confederate collapse toward a freedom they could hardly glimpse at all. Applying insights from economic sociology and anthropology, I analyze the dynamics of “informal economy” to show that, at ground level, freedom was not a bright North Star beckoning in the distance. It was a vague and fluid thing, ever up for grabs and constructed from the most mundane fragments for the most conservative purpose of getting by. That such a short-term strategy passed over inevitably into the transcendence of social revolution makes it all the more worthy of our attention. 

 

BIO:

Kathy Hilliard is associate professor and director of graduate education in the Department of History at Iowa State University. She is the author of Masters, Slaves, and Exchange: Power’s Purchase in the Old South (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She’s writing a monograph on the political economy of “getting by” during the Civil War and Emancipation and, with Larry McDonnell, authoring a book on an 1849 murder conspiracy in Edgefield, South Carolina. She serves as Vice President, Teaching Division, for the American Historical Association, advocating for open, honest, history education and the freedom to learn in college and K-12 classrooms.

Contact Information:
khilliar@iastate.edu

 

Meeri Kataja
Reindeer Herding Projects in Alaska

ABSTRACT:
The reindeer projects in Alaska are well documented and studied in the field of history. What remains unclear is what the experience of the European herders was. Reindeer herding in Alaska at the turn of the 20th century is often discussed from the perspective of how it changed the Inupiat way of life. In this paper the questions are: what was the Europeans’ experience within the projects and how did they affect the success or failure of the projects? Sámi, Norwegian, and Finnish reindeer herders were brought to Alaska to teach Alaska Natives how to take care of the animal and how to use it for transportation, food, or products, but the situation got a lot more complicated than that. Eventually in 1937, the Reindeer Act ruled all non-natives out of the reindeer industry, including the people who were brought to Alaska by the U.S. government to help with starting it in the first place. In previous research it has been analyzed as an act by the state to steal a way of life from indigenous people, but Sámi herders played a more complex role in the disputes than simple victims. This paper studies how European herders, who were not probably all reindeer herders, understood the U.S. governmental projects to start a reindeer industry in Alaska and their own role in those. These people had their own reasons to participate, to go back to Europe, or to leave their U.S. government employment. This paper focuses on their experience as active individuals instead of just as means to achieve the U.S. government’s visions.  

BIO:
I am a history PhD student at Montana State University with a specialization in environmental and immigration history. In my dissertation, I am studying ideas and attempts to get Northern European migrants to settle and “tame” Alaska. I am interested in what kind of knowledge was used to form arguments to support these ideas and the actual projects that followed. On the other hand, I am also exploring what Northern Europeans ended up doing in Alaska, how they changed Alaska’s environment, and why they did not eventually find their American Helsinki or Oslo there. Before starting my studies at Montana State University, I earned my master’s degree at the University of Helsinki in political history and worked as a research assistant.

Contact Information: 
meeri.kataja@gmail.com

Zdravka Katinić

The "span we call 'between'" in Linda Hogan's Solar Storms.

ABSTRACT:
Linda Hogan's Solar Storms (1994) does not diverge from distinct and recurring themes in Indigenous American literature, like maps, borders, and fractures. There are debates about Indigenous-created maps versus Eurocentric maps; borders that separate Angel's, the novel's protagonist, Indigenous American society and the outside world; and descriptions of fracture marks in Adam's Rib (her hometown) that imply ramifications of United States' horrid history with its indigenous people. There is plenty of research that looks into how Hogan uses maps and borders in her novel. However, Angel's narrative also suggests something beyond demarcations, a space or "span we call 'between'" (Hogan 31). Through close reading, this paper will examine the metaphor of the "between." I read the "between" as a spatial or spiritual metaphor and being within or between worlds. The three core women in Angel's life all live in places where there is a form of nexus, but they all have different ways of moving or crossing the "between." Dora-Rouge has a link to spirits and plants, Agnes has a bond to the bear whose coat she is wearing, and Bush has a connection to the land and animals. For Angel, the "between," is manifested by her understanding of the past, present, and future. She develops gifts like being a plant dreamer, but she also becomes the bridge between her ancestors and the future as an American-raised child upholding Indigenous traditions. Even though the novel highlights demarcations between the Euro-American world and the Indigenous American world, the reading of the "between" examines the spatial and spiritual border between and within Indigenous and American societies. 

BIO:

Zdravka Katinić is a PhD candidate at Karlstad University, Sweden. Her doctoral project centers on the Bildungsroman and reimagining what the "American" identity means in six minority coming-of-age novels published in the "post-era" of the 1990s United States and how it is used in the construction of identity.

Contact Information:
zdravka.katinic@kau.se

Pekka M. Kolehmainen 
New Vitalism and the Political Logic of Antifeminism in the U.S. Radical Right

ABSTRACT:
This paper explores the recent emergence and spread of vitalism as a strain of antifeminism in the contemporary, online-based radical right. While at its most basic, the definition of vitalism involves making an explicit distinction between the living and non-living, politically it has often involved a more nebulous celebration of “life essence.” This has historically made it easily connectible to right-wing ideologies, and fascism in particular. In contemporary times, a regressionist version of vitalism has resurfaced in the spheres of the wider alt right, particularly due to the influence of the book Bronze Age Mindset (2018), written by an internet pseudonym known as the “Bronze Age Pervert.” The book and the larger movement it has inspired views the projects of liberal democracy, industrial revolution, and even “history” as having robbed modern life of vitality, which is defined in a rigidly hierarchical, at its core pseudohistorical depiction of a primordial hunter-gatherer society.

My paper explores the gendered aspects of this new vitalist movement, examining vitalism is positioned as an antagonistic opponent to feminism and the larger ideal of egalitarianism. The vitalist conception of masculinity grounds it in tropes of warfare and domination, which the movement’s adherents regard as denied by feminist sensibilities of modern society. As such, this new vitalism draws heavily on various strands of the male supremacist, antifeminist onlinemilieu of the “manosphere.” My paper contextualizes this emergence of new vitalism in the larger intellectual history of antifeminism in right-wing politics, both in the near-historical scope of reactionary politics online and in terms of a wider arc of U.S. conservatism. 

BIO:
Dr. Pekka M. Kolehmainen is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the John Morton Center for North American Studies and the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Turku, Finland. His postdoctoral research examines the conceptual and intellectual history of antifeminism in U.S. right-wing politics. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural History (2022) from the University of Turku, where his dissertation explored the use of rock as a political concept in the U.S. culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s.     

Contact Information:

pmkole@utu.fi

 
Tuula Kolehmainen
“I Hear No Men Talking about It”: Male Comedians on Reproductive Justice 

ABSTRACT:
In his recent stand-up special, comedian Marc Maron wonders why men are not talking about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The question of who is (or should be) entitled to take a stand on the right to abortion, is up for debate. But so is Maron’s observation that there are “no men talking about it.” Stand-up comedians’ material on post-Roe America is most likely still being tested at live comedy clubs, and thus not yet available on streaming services like Netflix. During the past few decades, however, quite a few (cis-)male comedians have presented their views on reproductive justice on stage. Stand-up is, after all, a unique forum for dealing with themes like gendered vulnerability and power relations, even exposing views that would now be unlawful outside of the comedic context. In fact, American stand-up comedians play a central role in the popularization of social debates and contestations related to transnational topics such as reproductive justice.

In this presentation, I analyze how American comedians, such as Dave Chappelle, Marc Maron, and Steve Hofstetter, address the contested issue of abortion rights on stage. I argue that while stand-up comedy on reproductive justice by male comedians sometimes reinforces patriarchal norms, attitudes, and stereotypes, it also challenges them by exposing hypocrisy and inconsistencies concerning the matter. 

BIO:

In addition to her dissertation, “Like Men They Stood”: Black Male Vulnerability as Resistance to Stereotypes in Fiction Written by African American Women, the winner of the Rob Kroes Publication Award (EAAS), Tuula Kolehmainen has published an essay on Jhumpa Lahiri’s short fiction in the Keltaiset esseet collection (2016), an article on Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby in the journal American Studies in Scandinavia (2018), and her chapter on Toni Cade Bambara’s short fiction was published in the anthology Mediating Vulnerability: Comparative Approaches and Questions of Genre (2021) by UCL Press. Kolehmainen is currently developing her postdoctoral project, “The Witty and the Vulnerable: Male Vulnerability in the Work of African American Stand-up Comedians,” at the John Morton Center for American Studies (University of Turku, Finland). In addition, she is a board member of the Finnish American Studies Association (FASA) and works as a university instructor at Tampere University. Kolehmainen is experienced in stand-up comedy herself, with over 400 performances including the Finnish Channel 4 show Nelosen Stand up! 

Contact Information:
tuula.kolehmainen@tuni.fi

 

Lotta Leiwo
Settler colonial climate: The paradox of finding “Finnish weather” in the United States 

ABSTRACT:

This paper focuses on how United States Finnish women write about weather and climate in socialist newspaper Toveritar (1911–1930). Further, I aim to demonstrate how writers adopted local letters as working-class’ mean to seek belonging and express exceptionalism in the US. Weather and climate are concrete experienced, felt, and lived environmental conditions as well as cultural concepts (Hulme 2017) that have colonial implications because people migrate to new places in search of better life based on these conceptions. United States Finnish migrant-settler writers repeatedly write about climate and weather seeking both familiarity and strangeness in their new environment. 

Local letters are a Finnish newspaper text genre in which regular people from local communities discuss local events, weather, working opportunities and peculiar events to a wider-than-local peer-audiences (Kokko 2022). Socialist Toveritar was one of the Finnish-language newspapers that adopted this genre in North America for political use (Leiwo 2023). The paper was published by the Finnish Socialist Federation and explicitly targeted women. In the socialist context, the function of local letters was to inform the community about the local socialist branch’s matters and agitate, but also to act as social glue for a transnational socialist (imagined) community. 

By reading the texts in settler colonial framework, the letters reveal how socialist women legitimize Finnish presence in the US and how they occupied the lands through writing. The writers (re)produce settler colonial occupation by comparing the North American climate to Finnish and by describing local climate as “suitable” for Finns. Concurrently, many writers reflect the disappointment because the promised “golden land” does not offer riches and easy life for working-class. By studying how weather and climate are discussed in Toveritar, we better understand how cultural perceptions about these natural phenomena have produced, reproduced, or contested settler colonial worldviews.

BIO:
Lotta Leiwo is Master of Arts in Folklore Studies. She has studied working-class perceptions, place making and meaning making related to nature in Finnish and North American Finnish contexts. In her dissertation project in Folklore Studies, Leiwo studies the political rhetoric of women writers in the United States Finnish socialist newspaper Toveritar. Her research examines the politicization of nature and Finnish settler colonialism in the United States in 1910–1930.

Contact Information:
lotta.leiwo@helsinki.fi

Zsuzsanna Lénárt-Muszka
Language and Belonging in Selected Stories by David Bezmozgis and Téa Mutonji 

ABSTRACT:

The presentation traces the process of language acculturation as represented in two contemporary Canadian short story cycles, David Bezmozgis’s Natasha and Other Stories (2004) and Téa Mutonji’s Shut Up You’re Pretty (2019). Both collections feature recent immigrants to Toronto come from distinct backgrounds and differ in terms of age, gender, religious affiliation, and skin colour; yet, they make an effort to adjust to their new home through using language in comparable ways. Influenced by popular culture, mass media, and slang, the characters adopt similar linguistic practices in the hopes of meaning-making and diminishing their culture shock. Additionally, they cope with the trauma of separation from their homeland through the repetitive quality of their speech patterns, thus creating the illusion of linguistic fluency and therefore a sense of comfort and safety. The presentation will comment on the relationship between the characters’ language use and the formal markers of the short story cycles by arguing that the fragmentary nature and staccato rhythm of Bezmozgis’s and Mutonji’s books reflect the uneven nature of the characters’ linguistic experiments, highlighting the limits of both narratability and language acculturation. 

BIO:

Dr. Zsuzsanna Lénárt-Muszka teaches at the North American Department of the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen, Hungary. She received her doctorate from the University of Debrecen (2021); the title of her dissertation is Mothers in the Wake of Slavery: The Im/possibility of Motherhood in Post-1980 African American Women’s Prose. She has published in journals such as Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice; and Canadian Literature (forthcoming). She has contributed chapters to edited collections such as Jesmyn Ward: New Critical Essays (Edinburgh UP, 2023), Normative Motherhood: Regulations, Representations, and Reclamations (Demeter Press, 2023), Critical Insights: The Color Purple (Salem Press, 2022), and Identity, Violence and Resilience in 21st-Century Black British and American Women’s Fiction (Peter Lang, forthcoming). Her research interests include the representations of violence and embodiment in contemporary North American short fiction. 

Contact Information:
lenartmuszkazs@arts.unideb.hu

Sebastian Letts
The Asian Restriction debate in the US and Canada: Community Negotiations 

ABSTRACT: 
Analysing key debates within the United States and Canada on the issue of restricting Asian Restriction reveals the ways that those same debates were utilised by multiple migrant and Native American communities to negotiate their position around the late 19th, early 20th century North American color line. Beginning this study with the US Debate, particularly within the 1877 Report of the Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration where initial narrative lines are drawn, and definitions of who is and is not American is a key aspect of debate. In particular, competitive elements between Chinese and Irish migrant communities in the American West are highlighted, and it is shown how debates on Asian restrictions helped shift Irish migrants across the color line, causing them to be seen as increasingly American. Further though, the study tracks the debate through to the 1902 Canadian Royal Commission's Report on Chinese and Japanese Exclusion, in which white Canadians utilise an informal, and asymmetrical alliance with Native communities to oppose Asian access to Canadian identity. By following the reasons for Native participation in this alliance, it is possible to identify Native negotiations with white Canadian forces of capital and colonisation through the language of opposing Asian migration. Overall the study highlights how Asian Restriction became defining not just for Asian positions in North American society, but also definitional for white migrant groups to negotiate themselves onto the “white” side of the color line, and Native North American communities to highlight their subjugated position within white US and Canadian society. 

BIO: 

Sebastian Letts is a graduating MA History Student at University College London, having achieved a First Class BA History degree from UCL in 2022. He is a social and transnational historian interested in migration, identity, gender and native North American histories. He recently completed his UCL dissertation entitled “A Pacific Borderland? Pacific Peoples Encountering Each Other Along North America's Northwest Coast In the Long 19th Century”. He attended the 2022 EUI Summer School in Global and Transnational History and has chaired and presented at many conferences in 2023. He chaired the “Environmental History” and “Culture, Identity and Politics 3” panels at the UCL MA Summer Conference, where he also presented his dissertation. His paper, titled “Anything but British: How British Slavery is Remembered Following the 2007 Bicentennial Debates” was presented at the “Empty Plinths: The Racial Justice Protests of 2020 and Memories of British Slavery” workshop delivered by the UCL Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery. He will also present a paper at the BAAS PG Symposium in November at the Rothermere Institute in Oxford. He has published two short student articles in UCL’s Undergraduate History magazine, one about growing up as a transnational British citizen, and another on Italian and Chinese Migrants Encountering American Assimilation in the twentieth-century.

Contact Information: 
sebletts@gmail.com

Viktoria Sophie Lühr
Dividing openness – Continuation and shifts in Quebec’s immigration and integration debate in the 2010s  

ABSTRACT:
The French exception has marked the cultural, social and political divide between Canada and Québec since their inception. The shift in diversity management in both the federal state and the francophone province in the second half of the 20th century testifies to this separation: Whilst Canada’s multicultural policy was clearly delineated and firmly enshrined in legislation as early as the 1970s, Quebec struggles to this day to implement interculturalism as an official policy – despite its first definition and further development since 1979. 

In the 2010s, the issue becomes all the more pressing: In the shadow of the continuing accommodements raisonnables debate and an ever-growing problematization of immigration and integration in transnational western discourses, the question of an integration model proper to Quebec’s values and visions for the future clearly divides the parliamentary groups in the National Assembly. While some ingrained discourses - such as the multiculturalism-interculturalism spat between the PLQ and the PQ continue (unilaterally) - immigration and integration take on a whole new prominence in parliamentary diversity discourse with the election of Francois Legault (CAQ) as prime minister in 2018. Political scientist Frédéric Boily, in particular, argues that the electoral success of the Coalition Avenir Québec can be traced back to its election campaign, which focused strongly on immigration and integration. However, rather than being an ideological conviction, as was the case in other Western countries at the same time, the use of national populist themes and formulations is more of a 'marketing strategy' whose success speaks for itself (Boily 2018: 87-123). 

So what does the CAQ's disruption of the policy interplay between PLQ and PQ mean for the province's diversity policy? Does the new governing party disrupt the existing discourse or remain true to the Quebec ideal of an open intercultural society? What other changes emerge from the socio-political challenges of the 2010s in the diversity discourse? 

BIO: 

Dr. Viktoria Sophie Lühr wrote her doctoral thesis entitled "Kulturelle Diversität im Spannungsfeld zwischen Globalisierung und (Re-)Nationalisierung)" as part of a Franco-German cotutelle at Saarland University ("French Cultural Studies and Intercultural Communication") and the University of Lorraine ("German Studies"), and as part of the DFG-funded International Research Training Group "Diversity: Mediating Difference in Transcultural Spaces". Her research in the fields of Franco-German and Quebec cultural studies focuses, among other things, on critical discourse analysis, cultural diversity and the negotiation of intercultural realities in pluralistic societies. Her binational doctorate was supported by the Franco-German University. In 2023, she was awarded the Prix d'Excellence by the Government of Quebec and the dissertation award “Établissement” by the Université de Lorraine. 

Contact Information:
viktoria.luehr@ehess.fr

Donald Luxton 
Negotiating Salvation: Missionary and Indigenous Entanglements in British Columbia, 1858-1888 

ABSTRACT:
The Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada was the last quadrant of North America to be explored by Europeans. By the 1750s, the area’s rich natural resources had attracted Spanish, Russian, American and British Imperial forces, which brought them into contact with a large, complex and sophisticated Indigenous population. The Gold Rush of 1858 provoked a massive influx of unruly goldseekers that provoked a stern British response and the initiation of colonial status. Denominational missionary activities, both Catholic and Protestant, commenced at the same time, and either led or accompanied expanding European settlement. Against this rapidly evolving backdrop of Imperial expansion and American pressure from the north and south, mission outposts were established in numerous Indigenous communities. The built form of the ‘Christian Villages’ that resulted from these encounters represented the disruption of traditional cultures and a rapid transition from Indigenous to European architecture. The built form of the missions was a critical component in the assimilation process, symbolizing a Christian cultural mandate that supported Imperial expansion. The previous narrative that Indigenous peoples were powerless at the mercy of colonial forces does not recognize their agency in resistance, strategic acceptance or transactional encounters. There was, in fact, a complicated and cooperative interaction based on reciprocal interest in education as a shared priority, with mission buildings and sites achieved substantially through Indigenous capital and labour. Significantly, these missionary activities led to the eventual establishment of the Indian Residential School System. Despite the physical loss of mission buildings over time, their memory, meaning, evolution, impact and decline can be reconstructed through newly available archival material. This presentation will focus on original research that explores the dynamic forces that propelled missionary activities during the Late Victorian era and position their trajectory within the broader history of British Columbia, Canada and the British Empire.

BIO:

Donald Luxton is the principal of a leading western Canadian heritage and cultural resource management firm, and a well-known consultant, advocate, educator and author who for more than four decades has undertaken numerous projects throughout western Canada. His expertise, interest and accomplishments have been acknowledged through numerous awards, including the Heritage Canada Achievement Award in 2003 and numerous literary prizes including a BC Book Prize in 2004. In 2007, he was elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and in 2009 he was the recipient of the British Columbia Heritage Award. In 2020, Donald was accepted as a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, where he is currently completing his studies.

Contact Information:
donald@donaldluxton.com

Henry Oinas-Kukkonen
The Unions and Divisions in the Alaska Refugee Resettlement Hearings in 1940 

ABSTRACT:
A three-day congressional hearing concerning the future of the arctic territory of Alaska intertwined with the European refugee problem in May 1940. The US Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs determined the future of the proposed Alaska Development Corporation Act. Its core issue was strengthening the underpopulated Alaska with European war refugees. US officials, politicians, opinion leaders, citizens, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered in the Capitol to hear testimonies for and against the bill. 

The topic of developing the peripheral American northland was not only grounds for logically analyzing the territory’s actual situation and devising improvements but also for the blunt and nativist rejection of potential newcomers, especially Central European Jews. Among the 28 witnesses were two completely opposite standpoints, which both had their own united supporters. A deep division between two groups caused heated discussions, and opposing and aggressive arguments. Bigotry and ranting began. What was to one group a safe haven in the American arctic for persecuted European refugees was regarded by the other group as just a huge arctic concentration camp where the people who would choose the “bedeviled handful” of the rescued refugees would become “the god-like executioners” of the “flickering hopes” of those who, expecting safety, would be stranded. 

Four senators investigated witnesses about the issues, but they had their own views which intertwined with the views of the witnessing groups. The whole debacle ended in silence when the bill did not pass. 

BIO:
Henry Oinas-Kukkonen (PhD) is a University Lecturer in History and has the title of docent (Privatdozent) in the History of International Relations and Information Networks at the University of Oulu, Finland. He has worked on history of the US Occupation of Japan, US-Finnish relations and on American plans to resettle Finnish World War II refugees into Alaska. His current research interests also include the history of information and communication technology, innovation and social web. Oinas-Kukkonen is the research group leader of the Trans-Atlantic Impacts (TAI) research group and the Interrelating Distance and Interaction (IDI) research community at the University of Oulu and one of the principal investigators of the Oulu Advanced Research on Software and Information Systems (OASIS) research group. 

Oinas-Kukkonen is a research fellow of the Finnish Historical Society and a member of the board of the Historical Association of Northern Finland.

Contact Information:
Henry.Oinas-Kukkonen@Oulu.fi

Fantasia Painter 
“It will always be O'odham land:” Indigenous Lands & Rights at the US-MX Border

ABSTRACT:
In September of 2020, two Hia Ced O’odham (Indigenous) women drove to Quitobaquito Springs “to pray for the spring and for the land.” Quitobaquito Springs, a sacred site located in Organ Pipe National Monument managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and only yards away U.S.-Mexico border in southern Arizona, was under siege; construction of the border wall had depleted the ground water and brought the springs to the lowest level ever recorded. When park rangers arrived, one woman was sitting in the bucket of a front loader; the other was blocking incoming construction vehicles and singing “every O’odham prayer song [she] could remember.” Both were arrested and cited for interfering with the functions of a government agent and for violating public use limits, as NPS had closed the area to facilitate construction. 

Hia Ced O’odham are not federally recognized; they have no rights under U.S. law to their traditional territory now managed by NPS as a wilderness. In this paper, I analyze the proceedings of the resulting court case to reveal not only the contradictory conceptions of land at the center, but also the diverse strategies and tactics deployed by (unrecognized) Indigenous people to protect their lands—from songs to actions to translations. Following the debate in the courtroom around “public use,” “religious freedom,” and “sovereignty,” I discover that the defendant worked to translate unique Indigenous relationships to land into terminology legible to U.S. law enforcement and the criminal justice system while always holding that regardless of U.S. jurisdictional designations, Quitobaquito springs would “always be Hia Ced O'odham land.” 

BIO:
Fantasia Painter is an enrolled member and citizen of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Global and International Studies at UC Irvine. Her research, most recently published in the Journal of Arizona History and American Indian Culture and Research Journal, aims to rethink global borders, boundaries, and migrations from Indigenous worlds.

Her current book project Bordering the Nation reveals how the border politics in Southern Arizona are unfolding on O’odham (Indigenous) lands. In it, she argues that the US-Mexico border, like all global borders and boundaries, relies on Indigenous land.

She is currently a Mellon Foundation/UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Faculty Fellow and she recently received the UC-HSI Humanities Initiative grant from the Mellon Foundation/UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for her contribution toward advancing and strengthening scholarship in the humanities and the humanities-inflected social sciences.

Contact Information:
fpainter@uci.edu

 

Minna Pajunen
The Great Society Programs in North and South Dakota

ABSTRACT:

This paper discusses the effects of the Great Society programs in North and South Dakota and focuses particularly on the development of reservation areas in these two states in the late ‘60s and the early ‘70s. 

The purpose of the Great Society Programs was to advance the American civilization. President Johnson’s idea was to create support methods that would help to improve general living conditions in the cities, guarantee a clean environment for the citizens, and improve education facilities and education opportunities for every citizen. One of the goals was to train unemployed people whose skills were outdated due to increasing automation in several branches and help these people cope with the changes in the labour market. Another goal was to prevent students with humble backgrounds from dropping out of high school and encourage them to continue their studies in college.

The Great Society Programs raised high hopes and were afterwards heavily criticized. Despite the criticisms, those programs managed to create perceived well-being in communities and some individuals truly benefitted from them. Philip S. Deloria concludes that it was to be expected that the Great Society programs could not alone tackle poverty but those programs created job opportunities for individuals and economic opportunities for rural areas. Tribes acquired skills and experience in administrating the economy and certain public services in a community. Indigenous leaders gained valuable work experience as tribal program administrations in the Great Society programs. Some of them established private companies. Deloria also concludes that there are always indigenous persons who hold that the models of capitalist society do not fit into indigenous communities. In the 60’s these opponents viewed the Great Society programs and the prospect of indigenous persons joining the middle class as a threat to a genuine indigenous culture. 

BIO:

Minna Pajunen is a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki. She is currently studying in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal, and Regional Change. Her dissertation will research Native American Indigenous environmental discourses on social media representations of the Stand with Standing Rock environmental movement. In addition, the dissertation will explore the context of the environmental movement and the history of North and South Dakota. 

Contact information: 

minna.pajunen@helsinki.fi

Tina Parke-Sutherland
It Takes a Child to Raze a Village: the Literature of Native American Boarding Schools. 

ABSTRACT:
Only recently, with the discovery of mass graves on the grounds of First Nation boarding schools in Canada, has the public, both in Canada and the United States, begun to realize the profoundly tragic, and horrifyingly strategic, impact that boarding schools have had on Native American children and cultures. Funded by the government but often run by Christian religious groups, these schools sought forcibly to break the connection between Native children and their parents and grandparents and in that way destroy Native American villages, languages, and cultures. The BIA opened the first of these schools in 1860 in the state of Washington for Yakima Indian children. The last Native boarding schools closed in Alaska in 1987. Sexual abuse scandals at the most famous of these schools—the Jesuit-run St. Mary’s situated near the mouth of the Yukon River—still break routinely in the Anchorage Daily News. 

For more than a century Native American writers have been telling boarding school stories. Early fiction and memoir come from E. Pauline Johnson, Marianna Burgess, and Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin); later work from writers like Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, and Luci Tapahonoso. New writers like Annalee Lucia Bensen, Kimberly Musia Roppolo, and Patricia Aqiimuk Paul carry on the tradition. These writers don’t all tell the same stories. Here, as everywhere, generalizations about Native Americans and their experiences just do not work. But patterns do emerge. Narratives about boarding school often cast children not only as victims but as victors as well, often using myth to provide a complex cultural context. This paper reads Joy Harjo’s poem “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky” as an example of the narrative technique of embedding contemporary tragedy in ancient myth, and thereby both describing and enacting cultural survival.

BIO:
Tina Parke-Sutherland is Professor Emerita of English, Creative Writing and Women’s Studies, and former Director of the Core Curriculum at Stephens College, a small women’s college in Columbia, Missouri. She earned her PhD in Literature from the University of Michigan and her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, where for ten years she taught in the Cross Cultural Communications program of Alaska Native Studies.  In 1998 she served as Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Tampere, Finland, and since then has missed only one Maple Leaf & Eagle Conference. She recently published an article, “Ecofeminist Activism and the Greening of Native America,” in American Studies in Scandinavia and is currently working on a memoir about Alaska and the impact of climate change there, especially on Alaska Native communities.

Contact Information:
tparkesutherland@gmail.com

Ausra Paulauskiene
Un-Forgotten Influence of Women Writers on 21st-Century American Realist Novel

ABSTRACT:
By the beginning of the twentieth century women writers had firmly entered the burgeoning printing market. Those “scribbling” women made careers for themselves and often supported their families, some of them raising small children at the same time, like Laura E. Richards, a prolific author of children’s literature. It took almost a century and volumes of academic criticism to dismantle the diminishing label slapped on them by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Accidental discoveries of women’s out-of-print or never published writing have been ongoing. A poignant example was the manuscript of The Hermaphrodite by Richard’s mother Julia Ward Howe, written in the 1840s, found in 1977, and first published in 2004. Although a writer of mid-twentieth century, Paula Fox, too, was a “scribbler” of children’s literature who graduated not from an Ivy League university but from motherhood and divorce. The discovery of her out-of-print novel Desperate Characters (1970) by Jonathan Franzen was described in his essay “Perchance to Dream: In the Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels” (1996). The essay also known as “Why Bother?” championed the realist novel (whose doom was prophesized by Phillip Roth) and facilitated the reprint of Fox’s novel in 1999. I want to argue that Fox’s novel shaped the career of this one of the most read American novelists who has been reproached of privileged elitism and misogynism. I will suggest that Franzen’s fourth novel Freedom (2010) as well as latest Crossroads (2021) exhibit a continued influence of mid-twentieth and even nineteenth century women’s realist fiction. 

BIO:

Aušra Paulauskienė received her Doctorate degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003. In 2007, her book Lost and Found: The Discovery of Lithuania in American Fiction was published by Rodopi Publishers. New approaches to 19th-century women’s literature have been among her research interests. Her article on Willa Cather’s My Ántonia was included in the collection In the Country of Lost Borders: New Critical Essays on My Ántonia by Presses Universitaires De Paris Nanterre (2017), while her chapter on Mary. E. Wilkins Freeman was published in New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain by Edinburgh University Press (2023). She currently holds the position of a Professor at LCC International University in Klaipėda, Lithuania. Aušra has been part of Maple Leaf and Eagle community since 2014. 

Contact Information:
ausre.paulauske@gmail.com

 

Maksim Pelmegov
A Visit to the Exhibition of All Nations: Image of the United States in Vasily Sidorov’s Travel Writing 

ABSTRACT: 
The Chicago World’s Fair, held from May to November of 1893, became a landmark event in Russian-American contacts as Russia brought a considerable exhibition supervised and sponsored by the Russian government to showcase her industrial and cultural development. Many Russians traveled across the Atlantic either as official commissioners or as interested tourists. Among them was the Russian botanist, writer, and traveler Vasily Sidorov (1843–1903), who visited the World’s Fair in the summer of 1893 as a part of a larger trip across the United States (with a side visit to Canada) in the company of a group of fellow European tourists. He published a travelogue about this trip titled America. Trip Notes and Impressions (1895). In contrast with the official reports of Russian specialists about the American economy, technology, and education, Sidorov focuses on the description of the country and his personal impressions of the Fair. The fact that the book was written in an engaging, yet literary style indicates that it was aimed at a broader Russian intellectual readership rather than the political or scientific elite. It is, beyond doubt, a key source of Russian popular images of the United States. In the presentation I will explore the author’s views of America by analyzing the descriptions of travel conditions across the U.S., nature, landscapes, and cities visited in contrast with those in Sidorov’s home country. I also assess the author’s impressions of the World’s Fair as well as his thoughts on the American way of life, values, and the social and cultural traits of its inhabitants. 

BIO:

Maksim Pelmegov is a PhD student at the American Studies subprogram of the Doctoral School of Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Debrecen, Hungary. He earned both his BA and MA degrees in history at Syktyvkar State University, Russia. He has participated in several conferences, including the International Lomonosov-2020 Scientific Forum, Biennial HUSSE Conferences in 2021 and 2022, and 11th World Congress organized by the International American Studies Association in 2023. His doctoral research focuses on mutual images in Russian-American travel writing from the 1890s to the First World War in the broader context of U.S.-Russian relations and cultural contacts. 

Contact Information: 
maks.conkurs@yandex.ru 

Bo Pettersson
Bridging Free Will and Determinism: Embodied Volition in John Williams’s Stoner

ABSTRACT:
An age-old debate has divided not just philosophers but also the human scientists at large, that between free will and determinism. The debate has been conducted between libertarians and determinists, and lately some middle ground positions have been advocated by compatibilists and “illusionists” (who argue that free will is an illusion). 

In fact, literature, too, has come up with implicit solutions to the question. John Williams’s much-loved and widely discussed novel Stoner (1965) is, in my reading, one of the most detailed literary treatments of the topic in any literature. It suggests that in their personalities, university professor William Stoner and other main characters, are prone to act in what I term embodied or unconscious ways that are either situational (short-term) or identity-related (long-term). Similar examples can be found elsewhere in literature, for instance, in American novelists, such as Willa Cather, Sloan Wilson, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. 

My claim is that Williams’s portrayal of Stoner (as well as, to some extent, the protagonists in his other three novels) thematize the two kinds of embodied volition. This is a new kind of answer to the dilemma of the origins of human agency, with features of both compatibilism and illusionism. According to my view, humans often act by embodied volition, that is, they are seldom straightforwardly aware of their motivations. 

Thus, literature and literary studies might be of help in finding more tenable solutions to the division between free will and determinism that runs deep in the human sciences. If the notion of embodied volition were to be supported by cognitive research on human agency, it could help to elucidate psychological, philosophical, and cognitive views of human identity in life and literature. 

BIO:

Bo Pettersson is Professor Emeritus of the Literature of the United States and former Head of English at The Department of Languages, University of Helsinki. He has published widely on Anglo-American literature in relation to literary, narrative and metaphor theory, and has served on a range of national and international boards related to literary studies, publishing, and academic exchange. His most recent study is How Literary Worlds Are Shaped. A Comparative Poetics of Literary Imagination (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2016; paperback 2018). 

Contact Information:
bo.pettersson@helsinki.fi

Charles Postel 
"Dear Mother": Black Soldiers on the Home Front in WWII

ABSTRACT:
This paper explores the experience of Black soldiers stationed on military bases in the U.S. South during WWII. Most Black soldiers spent the war on these bases, where most of them were consigned to menial labor. They also experienced a bureaucratic type of segregation, a military Jim Crow in which a "white" or "Negro" binary defined a strict racial hierarchy. Moreover, soldiers in the neighboring towns were subject to Jim Crow rules, and murderous violence at the hands of police and white mobs, without protection from the army. The result was widescale violence, with beatings and shootings of Black GIs and Black GIs fighting back. In this sense, the war Black soldiers faced was at home, leading many to "prefer death fighting for democracy in America rather than to die on a battlefield." The Black community experienced this trauma through the river of letters that soldiers sent from the camps to their loved ones, to civil rights organizations, and to the Black press. This paper is based on soldiers' letters to their mothers. Military Jim Crow was an essential, and under-studied, phase of mid-twentieth century American apartheid. And within that context, these soldiers' letters provide new ways to understand how Black GIs and the wider Black community thought about the war, the country, and their place in both. 

BIO:
Charles Postel, PhD. I study United States history with a focus on the connections between political ideas and society. My recent book, Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1896 (2019), is about the powerful social movements unleashed by African Americans, farmers, workers, and women after the Civil War. My previous book, The Populist Vision (2007), is a history of the Populist movement of the 1890s, a farmer-labor revolt against corporate power that reshaped American politics. I have also written about conservative and right-wing nationalist movements in recent U.S. history. I am presently working on a book about the African American experience in the World War II era. I received my BA in history and my PhD in history from University of California, Berkeley. In 2008, I received the Bancroft Prize and the Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. I have been a Ghaemian Fellow at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (2011-12), a Fulbright scholar at the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies in the Netherlands (2012), and a Stanford Humanities Fellow (2016-17). I was elected to the Society of American Historians in 2018. 

Contact Information:
postel@sfsu.edu

Sheng-mei Ma
Toronto Chinatown Bilingual Signage 

ABSTRACT:
Across the store front, a business advertises its products and services through outdoor signs, window displays, and digital boards. Ideally, the message is direct, straightforward, and conducive to sales and profits. Yet a conundrum inhabits Toronto Chinatown bilingual signage that augurs three self-contradictions: a Sinophone Chinatown embedded within (in bed with?) an Anglophone, quintessentially Western, city of Toronto; the duo languages dueting, dueling on street and store signs, jostling like a married couple estranged, irreconcilable, untranslatable, let alone the xiaosan (小三 “Little Three” for a young, homewrecking mistress) of graffiti spray painted nightly; lastly, signages in Chinese that do not speak to non-Chinese tourists and shoppers other than an empty form, even if artistic, decidedly ornamental, Oriental, incommunicado, rarely grasped, instantly forgotten. The two-dimensional signage bifurcates into, on the one hand, a rabbit hole of infinitesimal puns, homophonic wordplay, affective association, and gustatory nostalgia for Chinese consumers and, on the other, a flattened, rudimentary peddling of food and drink and trinkets for non-Chinese. The depth of a rabbit hole resembles a taproot sunk into a home culture no longer around in Toronto, indeed, no longer extant, as fantastical as Alice’s fall. Let us take a walk to read semiotically the spectrum of bilingual signages in and around Toronto Chinatown, from the most Chinese to the least, from those catering to Sinophone speakers to those servicing Anglophone speakers. What to a Chinese is a homecoming invoking body memories since perhaps childhood morphs into an exotic escapade to go Chinese, to eat Chinese, along Toronto’s digestive tract of Spadina Avenue. Our ethnic slumming, noodle slurping begins with Figure 1 near Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street: 

 

BIO:

Sheng-mei Ma (馬聖美) is Professor of English at Michigan State University in Michigan, USA, specializing in Asian Diaspora culture and East-West comparative studies. He is the author of over a dozen books, including The Tao of S (2022); Off-White (2020); Sinophone-Anglophone Cultural Duet (2017); The Last Isle (2015); Alienglish (2014); Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity (2012); Diaspora Literature and Visual Culture (2011); East-West Montage (2007); The Deathly Embrace (2000); Immigrant Subjectivities in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Literatures (1998). Co-editor of five books and special issues, Transnational Narratives (2018) and Doing English in Asia (2016) among them, he also published a collection of poetry in Chinese, Thirty Left and Right (三十左右).

Contact Information: mash@msu.edu

María Cristina Manzano-Munguía
Understanding environmental sustainability from below: Indigenous grassroots constructions.

Abstract: 
Considering that “Indigenous knowledge come from the Land”. I want to explore how to construct Indigenous understanding of environmental sustainability based on secondary sources (e.g., publications from Indigenous scholars) in order to understand and propose constructions from below in defining and conceptualizing the environment. Bellfy noted the “respectful relationship, developed over the millennia” referring to Indigenous people of the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada and their relation with the “natural world… understanding that if human beings take care of the environment, the environment will take care of them…. The entire relationship can be summarized as harmony and balance, based on respect.” However, the environment has been disrupted historically from it’s own balance due to capital interests and the exploitation of natural resources, humans are consumers and as Churchill accurately notes “Postindustrialism” is the cause of the destruction to the environment and the natural order. Or as Bellfy refers as the “technological people”, have destroyed the environment and continue to do so in a brutal and extended manner. Here I explore precisely the destruction of the environment in the name of development and at the same time, it is my contention to propose Indigenous conceptualizations about the environment and sustainability from below.  

BIO:
María Cristina Manzano-Munguía is a research professor at the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico (Ph.D. University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, MA University of Guelph, Ontario; BA University of the Americas-Puebla, Puebla, Mexico). She has published on issues related to Indigenous forced transnationalism across borderlands, First Nations Transnationalism, Canadian Indian diaspora, Indian policy and legislation in Canada, Indigenous mobility and Indigenous return migration among others.

Contact Information: 
mmanzanomunguia@gmail.com

Lawrence T. McDonnell
Un-Americans: Creating an Ex-Confederate Community in Southern Ontario

ABSTRACT:
In the months and years after Appomattox, former Confederate government officials, military officers, and prominent slaveholders fled the American South to escape possible Federal prosecution and avoid the social transformations that Reconstruction ushered in. Many settled in Brazil or Mexico, and these communities have been well-studied.  Others sojourned for a time in Europe or distant California before mostly drifting home.  Less well known are the ex-Confederates who abandoned the United States in the 1860s and ‘70s for the new nation of Canada, settling mostly in southern Ontario. Swearing allegiance to the Queen and embracing all things British—or, at least, un-American—they built a quietly outraged conservative community that lasted down to the 1980s, living consciously in opposition to all things Yankee. 

This essay examines the growth and demise of this Canadian Confederacy, which focused in its heyday on a network of South Carolina families settled in and around London, Ontario.  There was the Ku Klux Klan leader John Bratton, employed as a surgeon under an alias at a local hospital; the Grant administration’s efforts to extradite him created one of the first crises of Canadian sovereignty. There were the Manigault and Mazyck families, prominent slaveholders and secessionists turned small-town schoolteachers and journalists, pillars of the local church.  And there were the ex-rebels who churned out book after book predicting America’s downfall in capitalist corruption and race war. Tracing the trajectory of this strange transnational crew reveals much about the un-American roots of Canadian nationalism, and its sources in negative identification, othering, and loss. 

Based on extensive research in manuscript and newspaper sources, government documents, and interviews with the last “Confederate Canadians,” this essay presents a closing section of my book in progress, Bloody Work: The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class. 

BIO:
Lawrence T. McDonnell (PhD, University of Illinois, 2014) is associate professor in the Department of History at Iowa State University.  His research focuses on the crisis of the Old South, the American transition to capitalism, and the intersection of labor and military history. His first book, Performing Disunion: The Coming of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.  He has published articles on slavery, secession, the Civil War, labor history, and southern honor.  Currently, he is at work on two books, Bloody Work: The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class, and Dark Bargain: Money, Sex, and Murder in the Old South (co-authored with Kathleen Hilliard).

Contact Information: 
lmcdonn2@gmail.com

Nadine Josephine Menghin
Literature and Conservation Biology Working Together: Perceptions of Nature as Recorded in Contemporary Nature Writing in Canada

ABSTRACT:
How do contemporary nature writing texts and its diversity of forms continue to mould representations, perceptions, and visions of the elusive idea of nature? Furthermore, what might this interdisciplinary genre effectuate on the level of relationship to/with nature within the writer – reader dynamic at the present moment in time in both an abstract and concrete way? Using texts published in Canada as a case study, how might such literature inform the interdisciplinary field of conservation biology to delineate environmental policies that anticipate a more pluralistic understanding of local and regional perceptions and visions of nature, both in the abstract and concrete, so as to consider rather than isolate human interactions with nature as part of the complex equation? A genre of ever greater relevance, nature writing in Canada brings together writers of a medley of voices from coast to coast to coast, and the subject matter is expansive – from remote northern landscapes to the observation of fauna and flora in a wetland to urban green spaces to the clawed landscapes left behind by extraction. For the 2024 Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference, I would like to propose an individual paper on the topic of my current dissertation project that examines and documents patterns of themes and relationships to and perceptions of nature in relation to, but not limited to, the self as represented in nature writing poetry and creative non-fiction in Canada from 1989 to the present. Due to the limited scope, the project focuses on anglophone settler writing, for the most part, and combines methodology from cognitive literary studies, life writing, memory studies, and ecocriticism, focusing on previously unstudied texts collected from a spectrum of journals.

BIO:
Currently, I am in the third semester of my Ph.D. in contemporary Canadian anglophone literature at the University of Augsburg, as a recipient of a doctoral fellowship from Cusanuswerk, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Katja Sarkowsky. Prior to embarking on doctoral studies, I completed a M.A. in English literature and literary theory (2021) at the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg as a recipient of a DAAD graduate study scholarship. Before moving from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Germany for graduate studies, I completed a B.A. in English and a B.Sc. in biology (2017) at Saint Mary’s University. My research interests lie in the intersection of the biological sciences and literature.  

Contact Information: 
Nadine.menghin@daad-alumni.de 

John Meyers 
Reissuing Rap: Copyright, Sampling, and Ownership in the Digital Age 

ABSTRACT:
In March 2023, the first six albums of venerated hip-hop trio De La Soul were made available on streaming services for the first time. While other artists from hip-hop’s “Golden Age” found new audiences among younger listeners in the downloading and streaming era of the 2010s and beyond, De La Soul’s music was largely unheard, since it was only available on older technology like radio and physical media, due to concerns from Warner—which purchased their catalog from Tommy Boy Records in 2002—over the difficulties in clearing De La Soul’s sample-heavy albums for digital distribution. After years of negotiations and slightly altering certain tracks whose samples could not be cleared, these albums were released to great acclaim in the press. Unfortunately, founding member David Jolicoeur died the month before their release, unable to receive some of the monetary rewards and cultural respect his music should have earned him during his lifetime. 

Taking De La Soul as a case study, my paper explores what happens when hip-hop, a musical practice founded as a live performance art by and for young people, reaches middle age. What version of hip-hop gets preserved and passed down to younger listeners? How can aging artists achieve financial security in a genre closely associated with youth? I conclude by suggesting we understand hip-hop artists in the context of musicians in other African American musical traditions like jazz, the blues, and R&B who have also fought battles over ownership and control of their creativity. 

BIO:
John Paul Meyers is assistant professor of African American studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is an ethnomusicologist and popular music scholar whose research on jazz, hip-hop, and rock music has been published in such journals as Jazz Perspectives and Ethnomusicology, among others. His book Same Old Song: The Enduring Past in Popular Music is published by the University Press of Mississippi (Spring 2024).  

Contact Information:
meyersjp@illinois.edu

Mark C. Miller
Agents of Partisan Polarization:  State Attorneys General

ABSTRACT:
The number of partisan lawsuits brought by state attorneys general against the federal government in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years.  There were 47 lawsuits filed by Republican state attorneys general against the Obama Administration, 131 lawsuits brought by Democratic state attorneys general against the Trump Administration, and as of September 1, 2023 there were 55 lawsuits from Republican state attorneys general against the Biden Administration. Almost all of these lawsuits were brought in order to further partisan agendas, using the courts to seek desired partisan changes in federal public policy or to limit the power of the president and other executive branch officials. The number of lawsuits increased in part because of increased resources to the offices of the state attorney generals and in part because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state attorneys general to sue for the “public interest” as these state officials define it, while other litigants must show actual harm to them before they are allowed to bring lawsuits.  Thus, through these partisan lawsuits, state attorneys general have become the agents of exacerbating partisan polarization in the United States.

BIO:
Mark C. Miller is now an independent scholar of American politics, specifically focusing on judicial politics in the United States.   He received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and his J.D. from George Washington University. He served as the Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States from 1999-2000, and he was a Congressional Fellow in 1995. During 2006-07, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Centennial Center for Public Policy of the American Political Science Association.  During the spring of 2008, he was the Thomas Jefferson Distinguished Chair, a Fulbright scholar to the American Studies Program and the History Department at Leiden University in the Netherlands.  For the academic year 2014-15, he held the Distinguished Fulbright Bicentennial Chair in North American Studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. He is the author of five books and numerous articles regarding judicial politics in the U.S. and in Europe.

Contact Information:
mmillerindc@outlook.com

John Moe 
"I can do that:" The narratives of Ed White Pidgeon. Stories about traditional American Indian culture, the language, basket making, the army, and the role of the government school for American Indian children in the Midwest during the 1930. 

ABSTRACT:
The treatment of Indigenous Peoples in North America has been a telling barometer of American social consciousness and historical attitude. This paper reports interviews and several years’ fieldwork with Ed White Pidgeon who was a student at an “American Indian Boarding School” and became in his adult years a well-regarded artist and community leader. White Pidgeon lived in southwest Michigan where he and his wife, also an “Indian School” student, were regarded as leaders of an extended family. 

The “American Indian Boarding School” system was omnipresent during the early years of the 20th century. By 1900, the BISA spent $3 million per year on Indian education and enrolled over 20,000 children.1   

During the 1930s, many Michigan Woodland Indians attended boarding schools in Michigan and South Dakota. It was a common experience for Midwestern Indians to leave home at a young age and live at government or missionary schools created for Native Americans. The experience of these young Native American at the federal schools is a point at which folklore, ethnology, social history, and public policy intersect.   

Ed White Pidgeon, a Pottawattamie Indian from Hopkins, Michigan, is the primary informant of this fieldwork. He liked to talk and enjoyed sharing information. Once Ed began to tell me "I went to the Indian school up in Mt. Pleasant. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.” Ed White Pidgeon’s experience at the Mount Pleasant Boarding School lasted through his formative years and remained a significant life event. Ed remembered starting to attend the Indian school at the age of six, about 1923. He noted that he stayed at the school until he was about thirteen or fourteen years old. He completed the eighth grade when the school closed in 1932. "The school gave me a lot," he remembered. 

This paper follows the life narrative of Ed White Pidgeon, presenting his story from his time in the Indian school to his adult years. White Pidgeon spoke Pottawattamie, a Woodland language, like Ojibwa. In White Pidgeon, we can see the transition between speaking his native language and English. The relationship between Indigenous Peoples and European Americans yields important understandings about the ways of maintaining the social and political order.

 

BIO:
Dr. John F. Moe is a University Graduate Faculty member of the Department of English and the Department of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University.  He served as Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Bergen (1990-1991), Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Tampere (1995-1996), Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Tartu (2003-2004), and the Norwegian Marshall Scholar at the Norwegian Emigrant Museum (2008-2009). He holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa in English and American Civilization, an M.A. in History from Indiana University, an M.A. in Folklore from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in History and American Studies from Indiana University (1978).  He serves on the Board of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) in Washington, D.C. He is currently working as exhibit consultant with the Nobel Peace Center for an exhibit on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Contact Information:
john.f.moe@gmail.com

Barbara Mossberg 
Fan Fiction of Starlight Express: It’s Not Nevermore--Thoreau’s “Thinking Like the Sun” for Revolutionary Quantum Immortality

ABSTRACT:
In which emergent physics butterfly effect meets Dante for messages of new hope and light. The world was already in crisis in 1854 when Henry David Thoreau published Walden, one of the most relevant feats of American consciousness and conscience providing revolutionary Thought Leadership for today’s urgent focus on extinction, displacement, and cataclysmic erosions of physical and civic dimensions. This paper posits Walden as fan fiction in terms of Dante’s Divine Comedy, arguing that it was through the lens of classical as well as Emersonian Transcendental texts that Thoreau connected with woods in a solar journey that took him through his own personal loss death crisis to profound revelation of earthly immortality based on alignment with the stars. Experiencing revolutionary world systems, he could leave his real woods proving ground for an identity as a critically reasoning and rousing advocate for revolutionary civil and human rights who continues, 260 years after his death, to radiate light into U.S. and global, as the next generations can write fan (non)fiction narratives of Walden for new kinds of seeing hopefully, from e.e. cummings to Robin Wall Kimmerer, Linda Hogan, and Terry Tempest Williams, and Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., to Bayo Akomolafe and Aowawa Shields. In fact, Walden becomes the fabled butterfly of chaos theory as a radical new force of hope is needed integrating social and environmental justice and indigenous learning for quantum wholeness.

BIO:
Barbara Mossberg is a Fulbright Specialist and former Bicentennial Chair of American Studies at the University of Helsinki in the Distinguished Senior Fulbright Lectureship of 1982-1983, and 1990-1991, opening the new Finnish Graduate School with a vision of chaos theory as an interpretive tool of American Studies. U.S. Scholar in Residence (American Studies Specialist) for USIA, President Emerita of Goddard College, and holding many higher education leadership roles on the national and international levels, she is Professor of Practice at the Clark Honors College, University of Oregon, teaching Eco literature and the Green Imagination, Emerson and Einstein, Revolutionary Imagination (Oxford University), and Epic Leadership/What the World Needs Now. In addition to her scholarship of chaos and the central margins of American literature, she has published eco memoirs and continues to write her own fan fiction in musical form of John and Louie Wanda Muir, Thoreau, and others. She leads memoir workshops based on Thoreau’s writings at the Thoreau Farmhouse birthroom and Walden Woods, and recently was published in What Would Henry Do? as thinkers were invited to imagine his solutions to the most critical problems facing humanity today. She recently received the College Faculty Fellowship Award in Innovation for her teaching on “Thinking Like the Sun,” the topic of her new book in progress.

Contact Information:
Barbara.mossberg@gmail.com

Jonas Musco 
Distinction through Food Habits: A Threshold Dynamic in the Colonial Encounter between French and Native Americans in the Mississippi Valley (1670-1760) 

ABSTRACT:
 When the French first entered the Mississippi Valley in the early 1670s, they were unable to survive on their own. Their subsistence was ensured by the various native groups they encountered, and they had to adapt to the indigenous diet, notably maize and game meat. This dependency on food continued long after the first colonial settlements were established, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. However, the 1720s proved to be a turning point, as the French tried to become self-sufficient in food. The colonial authorities encouraged wheat production (for bread) and tried to stabilize a metropolitan-inspired diet. To the contrary, Native Americans maintained their own culinary practices throughout the period of French occupation. Drawing on examples from the French colonial archives and a theoretical framework inspired by cultural anthropolgy, I intend to demonstrate that food distinction appears as a real threshold in French-Native American history. Food is not just a matter of subsistence, it is in fact a matter of collectively shared values and it contributes to the maintenance of a collective identity. For example, on the one hand, bread is at the center of French social, political and religious life, and it is therefore placed at the heart of the colonial project. On the other hand, indigenous food was also part of a wider set of practices considered essential to social life, such as hunting, a source of male prestige, or the various forms of the ‘‘Green Corn Ceremony’’ in the Southeast, during which relations between men and women or between chiefs and subordinates were actualized. Therefore, far from leading to acculturation, food appeared to be a critical political issue and a true crucible of cultural distinction in the eighteenth century Mississippi Valley.

BIO: 
Jonas Musco (MA, ABD) is a research fellow at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac and PhD Candidate at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris . His PhD dissertation focuses on Native American relationships to the environment in the eighteenth century Mississippi Valley, crossing both anthropological and historical approaches. At the Musée du quai Branly, he contributes to a research project (CRoyAN) about indigenous material culture and territoriality in collaboration with the Choctaw, Miami, Peoria and Quapaw Nations of Oklahoma.

Contact Information:
Jonas.MUSCO@quaibranly.fr

Nadia Nava Contreras
The U.S. Embargo in Cuban Transnational Media 

ABSTRACT:
This paper explores the ways in which contemporary transnational Cuban media, primarily disseminated online, engages in discussions on the ramifications of the series of U.S. sanctions over Cuba colloquially known as “the embargo” or el bloqueo (the blockade). It delves into the ongoing production of discourses on the policy’s everyday ramifications, as well as the emergence prominence of the concept of el bloqueo interno (the inner blockade). To enrich the analytical framework, the paper draws upon a combination of online sources and empirical fieldwork observations. 

Historically, the embargo has played a pivotal role in U.S. electoral politics, notably among Cuban Americans, with Florida serving as a focal point, given the preference for its maintenance among older segments of the Cuban diaspora. Simultaneously, it has been consistently perceived by Latin American political actors and communities as a substantial threat to sovereignty within the Americas. 

Within the boundaries of Cuba, where citizens grapple with the tangible consequences of this protracted policy, "el bloqueo" assumes a multifaceted role. It not only serves as a conversational evasion mechanism regarding political matters but it has also evolved into a sophisticated instrument for critique, masquerading under the guise of "el bloqueo interno" (the inner blockade). 

By untangling the intricate web of these dynamics, this paper underscores the imperative of examining embargo narratives through a perspective that transcends the U.S.-centric viewpoint. This call for a broader scope is particularly pertinent in light of Cuba's Digital Revolution and the state-driven expansion of internet access, which have transformed the landscape of information dissemination and discourse within the nation. 

BIO:
Nadia Nava Contreras holds a Master’s Degree in History of the Americas by Universidad Michoacana, Mexico. She is a Doctoral Researcher in Political History at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki (graduation expected in Fall 2024) and researcher in the project Cubaflux: Visualizing Urban Transformation in Havana, financed by the Kone Foundation and conducted at the John Morton Center for North American Studies at the University of Turku. At the JMC, she has studied Cuba’s nascent internet cultures, the configuration of the country’s digital diasporas and the reconfiguration of Cuba’s transnational public sphere. Her most recent publication in Iberoamericana. Nordic Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (forthcoming Dec. 2023) focuses on Cuban YouTubers and their urban narratives. After defending her doctoral dissertation on the relations between Mexico and Finland in the 20th Century, she will join the project Reproduction Wars: Imaginaries and Mobilizations in the U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region at the John Morton Center.   

Contact Information:
nadia.navacontreras@utu.fi

Hai Nguyen 
Asian American athletes as disruptors of the gendered stereotypes of Asian Americans 

ABSTRACT:

The paper will examine discursive practices concerning Asian American athletes in American news. The aim of the paper is to find and discuss the possible differing discursive practices concerning Asian American male athletes and Asian American male non-athletes, and further more explore different Asian American masculinities. The study will be carried out using a combination of systemic functional grammar and corpus linguistic methods. The key frameworks here are Fairclough’s and Van Dijk’s conceptions of critical discourse studies, Foucault’s notions of discourse and biopower, and Hall’s ideas of representation.

Asian American men have long been emasculated and desexualized in North American popular culture. This can be seen in connection to the Yellow Peril and other anti-Asian political rhetoric and exclusive action dating from the 1800s. At the same time Asian American women have been hypersexualized. The gendered differences in representation can be seen over and over again in North American media, most notably and explicitly in popular culture, and arguably more covertly in North American news media in how Asian Americans are framed and in the contexts they are discussed. 

The data will be collected from News on the Web (NOW) corpus. The data will center around sports-oriented news from 2012, revolving around Jeremy Lin and his breakout performance in the NBA that year. A contrastive study will be done on another set of data from the same time period, centering around other Asian American men in the news. I expect the results from both data sets to differ in terms of representation: the context of the first data set is fixed so there should be a difference not only in the context, but in the social roles the athletes occupy and whether they are represented as active or passive actors. 

BIO:

I am a junior scholar from Turku, affiliated with the University of Turku. I am a discourse analyst and linguist specializing in discourses of racism and race in North American contexts. In my pro gradu thesis I studied the representations of African Americans constructed through grammar in the news coverage of Michael Brown’s shooting in 2014. My PhD project is interested in similar themes, but instead of African Americans I am looking at representations of Asian Americans. My main research interests are representations, language and power and discourses of racism and race, but I am also interested in the Asian diaspora and their agency in the media. 

In addition to research I have been active in NGOs for the past 15 years, ranging from antimilitarist activism to bicycling advocacy. For the past three years I have been a board member in Fem-R, an antiracist and feminist organization, and am the current co-chair of Fem-R. I am also a part of the antiracist research network RASTER and the Activist Research Network. I have written about antiracist themese in various media, most notably in Rasismi, valta ja vastarinta (eds Suvi Keskinen, Minna Seikkula and Faith Mkwesha) and in an upcoming publication, Sodan pauloissa – Militarismi suomalaisessa yhteiskunnassa (eds Susanna Hast and Noora Kotilainen).

Contact Information:
hlhngu@utu.fi

Roger L. Nichols
Indigenous Rights and White Backlash in the USA 

ABSTRACT:

My paper addresses one of the conference themes, contestations between Indians and other Americans. It focuses on the demands of non-indigenous Americans to stop what they claimed were unfair, pro-Indian policies and actions that threatened the rights of other citizens. 

Since the 1960s American Indian communities and pan-tribal national organizations have demanded that the rest of the society recognize and accept tribal sovereignty and cultural independence. This led to headline-catching protests over land, resources, religion, and tribal independence. But it also brought repeated complaints from whites about the government unfairly favoring Indians over others. That led to the growth of dozens of national, regional, and local anti-Indian groups making protests and taking legal actions to thwart indigenous activities. These efforts occurred mostly across the northern tier of states from New York west to Washington. They focused on Indian hunting and fishing rights, on tribal avoidance of state taxes, and on Indians’ use of casino profits to buy land and enlarge their reservations while taking the land off the local tax rolls. 

The protestors claimed to want just treatment and called for an end to special privileges for Indians. They organized national groups including the Interstate Congress for Equal Rights and Responsibilities, Totally Equal America, Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, and All Citizens Equal. These opposed treaty guaranteed Indian fighting rights in Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan. They demanded an end to taxation of white property on reservations in Montana, and Indian avoidance of state taxes in New York. In each case white organizations used violence, intimidation, and legal actions to attack indigenous actions. 

My paper will demonstrate how these groups cloaked themselves in civil rights era rhetoric and names to defend and justify their racist anti-Indian actions. 

BIO:

Roger L. Nichols is the Emeritus Professor of History and Affiliate faculty in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, his teaching and research is focused on frontier and Western America, and Indians in US history. He earned a PhD in American History at the University of Wisconsin. Past President of the Pacific Coastal Branch of the American Hist. Assn. he has taught at four universities in the US and four in Germany. He received three Fulbright appointments in Europe and one in Canada, and three National Endowment for the Humanities awards. His publications include fourteen books, the most recent being Massacring Indians, Un. Oklahoma, 2021. 

 

Contact Information:
nichols@arizona.edu 

Mona Raeisian 
The “They” in the “We”: Framing Muslim American Identities in American Police Procedural Television  

ABSTRACT:
American Television’s attitude towards Muslim-Americans has, for the most part, leaned towards negative and violent representation. Series such as 24 and Homeland are replete with Muslim radical terrorists whose monstrosity is portrayed as a direct threat to the American national identity. Police procedural television, in particular, has had a monochromatic portrayal of Muslims, often framing them as violent and antagonistic. Furthermore, the representation is often oblivious to the religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity present among Muslim Americans, often conflating them into one stereotypical identity. The first part of my paper will focus on how this framing of Muslim identities as unassimilable others that stand against all that America presumably stands for bars them from any sense of American-ness, casting them as perpetual aliens regardless of their social, cultural and emotional connection to the country. The focus will be on two episodes, one in Bones (The Man in the SUV) and one in Criminal Minds (Lessons Learned). The second part of my paper centers on the benign portrayal of Arastoo Vaziri, an Iranian-American intern who is a recurring character in Bones. I will analyze the transformation of Arastoo, initially framed as an ambiguous, heavily accented, devout Muslim who is distrusted by his peers into an all-American Muslim who plays baseball, has served in the army and is fully assimilated. I will investigate this metamorphosis as a rite of passage that must occur before Arastoo can move from outside the borders of American identity to within those borders. I will elaborate on how this benign representation and other similar instances paradoxically reinforce the frames that exclude Muslim identities from an imaginary American national identity. 

BIO:
Mona Raeisian is a Ph.D. student in American Studies in Philipps-Universität Marburg. Her dissertation is titled “The Rumpelstiltskin Effect: Identity and Ideology in Contemporary American Police Procedural Fiction”. In her research, she focuses on the ideological construction of hero, victim and villain narrative identities in relevance with U.S ideologies of capitalism and individualism. Her research interests include but are not limited to identity studies, ideology, capitalism, body studies and popular literature.

Contact Information: 
raeisiam@staff.uni-marburg.de

 
Ari Räisänen
Expatriates of War: Transnational Belonging and the Memory of War in the Writings of Elliot Ackerman 

ABSTRACT:

The memory of war is shaped by state formations, political actors, and other agents to define the boundaries of nationness and reinforce a distinct version of historical events concordant with national identity (Ashplant et al. 2000). In doing so, hegemonic war memory often excises elements that are incongruous to its purpose of reinforcing narratives of the nation (Rice 2010). As such, it can be mobilized to create divisions between the national Self and the fundamentally unintelligible and unknowable enemy Other (Butler 2009). This paper examines the ways in which US veteran author Elliot Ackerman mobilizes his personal memories of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria in his novels Green on Blue (2015), Dark at the Crossing (2017), and his memoir Places and Names (2019) to fashion a transnational countermemory of war. Ackerman forgoes the traditional narrative perspective of the war story in American culture—the soldier—and instead, interrogates war from the perspective of the erstwhile Other who emerges as a full subject with agency beyond American power: Green is told through the perspective of a young Afghan man, while Dark is presented through the eyes of an Iraqi American interpreter. The interrogation of Ackerman’s own war memories in Places connects them with the transnational reverberations of the War on Terror. The shared experience of violence emerges as a force that binds rather than divides its participants and facilitates new ways of transnational belonging. In doing so, Ackerman’s texts engage in what Viet Thanh Nguyen terms as “just memory:” remembrance which entails a moment of mutual recognition of the shared humanities and inhumanities of the Self and the Other (2016). This ethical war memory destabilizes exceptionalist visions of the War on Terror and contextualizes it within wider transnational and historical contexts, thus facilitating a more comprehensive understanding of the experience of war. 

BIO:
Ari Räisänen is a doctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland where he is finalizing his dissertation on the counternarratives of literature written by US veterans of the War on Terror. His research has appeared in American Studies in Scandinavia and the European Journal of American Studies.

Contact Information:
 ari.raisanen@uef.fi

Hanna Rask 
Temporalities of reconciliation and structural change in the work of transforming child welfare system for Indigenous families in Ontario, Canada

ABSTRACT:
Since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report on the history and legacies of Indian Residential Schools in 2015, the Canadian government has committed to pursuing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and implementing the commission’s Calls to Action for addressing ongoing legacies of residential schools in today’s society. However, to what extent the government’s reconciliation efforts have succeeded in reaching beyond promises and acknowledgments to concrete structural changes remains under debate. Seeking to contribute to conceptualization of structural legacy and change in the context of a settler colonial institution, this paper discusses the multiple dimensions of such change in the context of child welfare system in Canada. Criticized for continuing the systemic practice of separating Indigenous children from their relations and culture that was started by the residential schools, that system is currently undergoing profound changes with Indigenous collectives reclaiming greater control over jurisdiction and organization of their child and family services. Based on discussions and interviews with child and family service providers and advocates working with First Nation families in North-Eastern Ontario, the paper discusses changes called for within and beyond the system to turn it from an assimilative institution of settler colonial state to promoting Indigenous relatedness, self-determination and nationhood. Building on existing scholarship on structural dimension of reconciliation in settler colonial contexts, the paper looks at temporal articulations of ‘change’ in state politics of reconciliation and how they reflect the complex realities of structural change as described by those working on it on grass-root level. Reflecting on articulations of reconciliation as a ‘new beginning’ and closure on past injustices, the paper draws attention to a more complex dynamic of continuity and change characterizing the processes of dismantling colonial continuities within the child welfare system at different fronts from frontline practice to legislation and allocation of resources. 

BIO:
Hanna Rask is a PhD Candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. Her ongoing doctoral project focuses on processes towards First Nation control over child and family services in Ontario in the context of the ongoing national reform of Indigenous child welfare in Canada, and on dynamics of systemic continuity and change regarding institutional legacies of earlier colonial policies of child removal in the child welfare system.

Contact Information: 
hanna.rask@helsinki.fi

Josh Reid
Constellations of Kin: Strategies of Belonging for the Snohomish Indian Nation

ABSTRACT:
Concepts and practices of belonging lie at the heart of moments of political and social union and disunion. For example, how did Snohomish Indians, a Coast Salish people in Western Washington pursue strategies of union to remain in their homelands during the period of aggressive settler expansion, from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century? With varying degrees of success, Snohomish peoples met the challenges of settler expansion by combining kinship networks with increasingly limited opportunities in federal policies and the settler economy. Drawing on family histories, this talk will discuss topics related to the Treaty of Point Elliott, the formation of initial reservations in western Washington, Indian boarding schools, and the complexities of Coast Salish identities. 

BIO:  
Born and raised in Washington State, Dr. Joshua L Reid (registered member of the Snohomish Indian Nation) is an associate professor of American Indian Studies and the John Calhoun Smith Memorial Endowed Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington. He holds degrees from Yale University and the University of California, Davis, and is a three-time Ford Foundation Fellow. Reid has also received awards, grants, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Western History Association, and the University of Washington, among others. His publications include the award-winning The Sea Is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs (Yale 2015) and Violence and Indigenous Communities: Confronting the Past and Engaging the Present (Northwestern, 2021), which he co-edited with Jeff Ostler and Susan Sleeper-Smith. He currently directs the UW’s Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, edits two book series, and serves on the Board of Editors of the American Historical Review and the Board of Directors for the National Council for History Education. Reid currently researches Indigenous explorers in the Pacific, from the late eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.

Contact Information: 

jlreid@uw.edu

Michelle Robinson
Mixed Feelings: The Analog Space of Pause with Sam Jay

ABSTRACT:
On the podcast “The People’s Party with Talib Kweli,” the Brooklyn based MC praises stand-up comedian Sam Jay because she “doesn’t do respectability politics” and “doesn’t do code-switching” in her debut album Donna’s Daughter (2018). The same can be said of her HBO talk show Pause with Sam Jay (2021-2022), a series of crowded get-togethers in the comedian’s New York City apartment, full of spirited, freestyling talk with her mostly African American guests on topics from monogamy to intergenerational wealth to the U.S. presidential election, intercut with interviews and comic sketches. And as she does with Donna’s Daughter, where the sounds of hip hop, voicemails, and recorded conversation consort with stand-up comedy, Jay uses Pause--the operative button for a creating a mix tape—to draw attention to the mix of forms and the technologies of production, using visual effects to simulate rewind, overwrite and play back on a VHS cassette. Moreover, the idea of “pause,” a Black, street slang alibi against accusations of homosexuality (comparable to #nohomo), curtains off a space for communal irreverence and no-holds-barred conversation without consequences. 

This paper argues that the emphasis on analog artistic production in Pause with Sam Jay thematizes oralities and cooperative overlap (talking out of turn) at the root of the African American comic tradition. I also show that its setting, conversational rhythms, and visual re-mixing of ideas, which evoke Black anti-capitalist forms like the rent party, the bootleg, and the mixtape, open space for Sam Jay’s contrarian politics. By finding a gathering place for unruly sociability and undisciplined politics, and by aligning her talk show with forms of African American vernacular musical production, Jay elevates a Black comedy and conviviality free of the corrective forces of respectability politics and code-switching. 

BIO: 

Michelle Robinson is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Dreams for Dead Bodies: Blackness, Labor, and Detective Fiction (2016) and completing a second manuscript titled, Come Tell Us How to Go to Heaven, which uses letters from Christian evangelicals to trace how Christian fellowship shaped the career and social impact of the Reverend Billy Graham. Her courses include “Women Detective Fiction,” “Radical Religious Communities,” and “The Ethics of Stand-Up Comedy.”

Contact Information: 
mmrobins@unc.edu

Sonja Ross
Mother Earth meets Biocracy: Approximation and critical appraisal

ABSTRACT:
We all probably know these words: "Only when the last tree has been cleared, the last river poisoned, the last fish caught, will people realize that money can't be eaten." It is a passage from a pseudo-Indian text that has been staged in the Western media in several literary variants. It was attributed to a speech that was originally delivered in 1854 in Lushootseed, a language of the Coast Salish, by Chief See-ahth (Chief Seattle). It emphasizes the completely independent character of the earth, in which nature is an independent being with its own will, and a spiritually justifiable dignity. From the very early 19th century onward, different lines of development focus the topic “Nature”. Goethe's pantheistic idea of a comprehensive independence of nature contrasts with a growing scientific will to control it. On the Indigenous Side of the Atlantic various Mother-Earth respectively Pachamama concepts evolved. In the second half of the 20th century, there is a great pressure to consider nature as a separate being with inalienable rights. Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador have enshrined the rights of nature in their constitutions, many individual initiatives for the protection of natural places, such as that of the Maori in New Zealand or the law for the protection of trolls and elves in Iceland, have an original spiritual character. In two letters, the encyclica "Laudato Si" and the apostolic letter “Laudate Deum”, the catholic Pope Francis for the first time ever elaborates causes and necessities for the 'integrity of creation' from an ecclesiastical perspective. Beyond these religiously based measures and exhortations the concept "Biocracy" attempts to convey the overriding claim of "nature's rights" jurisprudentially while respecting its spiritual aspects. Will it be possible to bring these various crucial initiatives from a planetary perspective into alignment from despite their different motivations? 

BIO:
Sonja Ross, Independent Scholar. Doctorate in Ethnology 1994. Focus on Mythologies, Rituals, World views and Cultural Change. Main areas are Circumpolar Zone, North/South America and Eurasia. Research visits in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize in 1983, in Venezuela, French-Guyana and Suriname in 1992. Occasional teaching assignments at the Department of Ethnology and African Studies of the University of Munich during the 1990s. Management career in Information Technology for the industries Finance/Insurance and Defense 1995-2018. In parallel, 2000-2012, first chairwoman of the ‘Circle of Friends’, Museum of Ethnology, Munich.

Contact Information: 
ross@rosske.de

David Rouff 
Reuniting American Chinese Lives and Bodies: Recovering Subjectivities through Urbanism, Foodways, and Belonging in Merced, California, 1870-1910

ABSTRACT:
Studying nineteenth century immigrant Chinese communities in the North American West presents persistent interdisciplinary challenges. Limited Chinese-authored sources and racist record-keepers constrain opportunities to hear Chinese voices and read their words. What remains are positivist archival sources—such as tax records, fire insurance maps, and public health reports—that vilify American Chinese bodies and separate them from the substance of their lives. Consequently, Chinese immigrants emerge from the archives as objects, and remain so in most scholarship: objects of discrimination, bodies to be disciplined by law and violence, immigrants to be excluded and denied citizenship. And yet, positivist archival sources occasionally offer glimmers of Chinese agency. Focusing explicitly on these glimmers as ghosts welcomed to productively haunt the past and present, this paper gives voice to Chinese specters, unsettling troubling histories and troublesome archives and opening up a layered counter-narrative to conventional tales of American urban apartheid. Interpreting tax records and fire insurance maps not as “data” per se, but as evidence of economic and spatial decisions made intentionally and repeatedly over time reveals specific practices of communal gardening, defensive design, and place making. Rather than a tale of exclusion and marginalization, the ghosts tell of a vibrant world of immigrant Chinese activism, persistence, and belonging anchored in spatial practice, foodways, and taxpaying. Merced’s Chinese produced a robust transnational community, promoted personal safety, and created economic opportunities that in turn allowed them to create place, defend space, and claim de facto citizenship in the face of anti-Chinese policies, practices, and violence. This paper offers both a case study and an articulation of a pathway to unite American Chinese lives with their bodies, rendering American Chinese as subjects rather than objects, and suggesting new opportunities to explore individuals and communities locally throughout the North American West.   

BIO:

David Rouff is the Grey Roberts and Bette Woolstenhulme Presidential Chair of History and associate professor in the Department of History & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Merced. He studies the intersection of people, policy, and place in the North American Southwest from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. His current project, “Emerging from the Rubble: Chinese in Merced, California,” harnesses local archives to spatially reconstruct and re-people the American Chinese community in Merced during the late nineteenth century and to explore how Chinese immigrants’ land use, gardens, and urban design facilitated the development of a vital transnational community. He previously authored Before L.A.: Race, Space, and Municipal Power in Los Angeles, 1781–1895 (2013). He served on the Los Angeles Civic Memory Working Group which produced Past Due and has been a fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library.

Contact Information:
david.rouff@ucmerced.edu 

Alice Salion
“Madefamily”: Visions of Healing from the Colonial Continuum of Indigenous Gendered Disposability in Tracey Lindberg’s Birdie 

ABSTRACT:
In 2015, Cree lawyer and activist Tracey Lindberg wrote her first work of fiction recounting the vicissitudes of a Native woman along her healing ceremonial journey. The life of Bernice "Birdie" Meetoos is scarred by the psychological and physical abuse spawned by the aftermath of colonialism, which for centuries has been gnawing away at the very essence of Indigenous peoples by chewing up and spitting out what is left of it. The intergenerational trauma experienced by the protagonist is chronicled following aboriginal oral tradition, hence not adhering to a straight timeline but instead carrying readers through past and present in a highly intimate circular flow of memories and perceptions. This poignant work bears a distinctive, educational profile and fits into the militant framework of movements such as MMIWG and WWOS which engender awareness around the issue of the systemic violence perpetrated on Indigenous women, an internalized plague within the social fabric of Native communities.

BIO:
Alice Salion (she/her): Translator and PhD student at the University of Padua, Italy. My research focuses on a decolonial feminist investigation of memoirs by BIPOC women authors in contemporary Anglophone Canadian Literature.

Contact Information:
alice.salion@phd.unipd.it

 

Sonja Salminiitty
Through Their Own Eyes: Native American-Run Museums in California

ABSTRACT:
In 2002, a group of Euro-American museums issued ‘The Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums’ which stated that their institutions had a duty to serve the global community and not just the citizens of one nation. The definition of a ‘universal museum’ is a deeply colonial one, conceptually based on cultural reductionism and championing a particular and singular world view. As museologist Cristina Krips has stated, ‘the Eurocentric museum model exists in a non-European world’ (2004). However, in the Global North, the model persists. The Eurocentric model impacts all aspects of the museum; from its Enlightenment systems of classification to the continued marginalization of communities whose cultural heritage, and even ancestral remains, are on display or buried deep within museum storage. Despite these issues, many museums still shape the wider public’s knowledge of an Indigenous tribes’ or nations’ history.

Many Native American tribes had enough of the decades of back-and-forth debates with museums regarding their own cultural patrimony and how many museums still portray a whitewashed version of history that glorifies European settlement. Many tribes have also started building their own museums and cultural centers. This paper focuses on the Chumash Indian Museum in Thousand Oaks and the Malki Museum on the Morongo Reservation in Banning. This work is part of a larger research project focusing on applying an ‘Indigenization’ model in museum spaces to help aid decolonization efforts that many curators and educators are trying to understand and undertake. 

BIO:
Sonja Salminiitty is a doctoral candidate at the University of Helsinki, in the History and Cultural Heritage Program, supervised by the North American Studies branch. Her dissertation is titled ‘Indigenization and Californian Central Coast Museums: Exhibitions of Chumash Culture in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties’. Sonja is currently working as a secondary researcher for the Traditional Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, Re-Indigenization, and National Parks (INDECOL) Project with Project Leader Dr. Rani-Henrik Andersson. She has a BA in Joint Honors Archaeology and History and two Master's degrees: an MSc in History, from the University of Glasgow (2019) and an MA in Heritage and Museum Studies, from Leiden University (2020).

Contact Information: sonjasalminiitty@helsinki.fi 
sonjasalminiitty@gmail.com 

Richard H. Schein
Bourbon Landscapes

ABSTRACT:
Bourbon is the whiskey of the United States and has been central to America’s historical geographies. The nation’s first rebellion was based on a whiskey tax. Whiskey travelled west and became a staple, value-added product of Euro-American settler colonialism. Bourbon and other whiskeys were produced in places like Kentucky on almost every small farm in the early republic, by men and women, black and white, free and enslaved. Its trade helped solidify the place of the old west in the nation’s mercantile expansion. Its transformations to industrial production were anchored in the developing urban social, political, and economic geographies of cities like Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, St. Louis, and New Orleans. This paper introduces the palimpsest of Bourbon’s iconic landscape over a two-hundred-year period before focusing on select historical and contemporary challenges to the place of the Bourbon landscape in everyday lives. These examples will include specific attention to racialized, environmental, and economic challenges, and especially as evident in Bourbon’s unprecedented twenty-first century boom. 

BIO:

Richard Schein is Professor of Geography and Director of the Gaines Center for the Humanities at the University of Kentucky (USA). He is a former Fulbright Bicentennial Chair of North American Studies at the University of Helsinki (2012-2013) and has been named Distinguished Historical Geographer (2011) by the Association of American Geographers. His published work explores US settlement practices (questions of land and property), methodology in historical geography (archival practices), and the American landscape – its origins, its form, its meaning, its contestation. Most recently that work is focused upon the place of landscape, as an epistemological framework and as a material thing or set of things, in American social and racial formation. Professor Schein lives in Woodford County Kentucky, home of fast horses and good bourbon, where he also is a planning commissioner.  

Contact Information:
schein@uky.edu

Mila Seppälä
In between not-failure and not-success: A movement for gun reform

ABSTRACT:
In this paper, I examine how the gun control movement has changed within the past two decades. Ever since guns became a polarizing issue between the two major political parties in the U.S. in the 1960s, debates over gun legislation have been characterized by the existence of strong gun rights advocacy groups on one side, and relatively weak or non-existent gun control groups on the other. Yet, studies show that most people consistently support some measure of gun reform and stricter gun control legislation (Gallup 2023). Kristin Goss calls the lack of mobilization on gun control as the gun control participation paradox (2008). 

However, there has been significant increase in gun control advocacy particularly after Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, which sparked grassroots organizing in the form of Moms Demand Action and increase in funding through Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety led by Michael Bloomberg. Furthermore, I claim that after the emergence of two pivotal waves of protests, spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by continued acts of police violence against the black community and the March For Our Lives movement that was led by students demanding gun reform after Parkland High School shooting, the gun control movement has seen significantly broadened in size and in ideas. 

In this paper, I consider how and why this shift has happened. Using 30 activist interviews I conducted during a fieldwork period in Austin, Texas (2021-2022), I examine how, why and to what end these activists engage in gun politics. Employing social movement theories that emphasize the importance of relationships (Edwards 2014), and by exploring how political imagination is collectively constructed (Khasnabish 2020), I aim to uncover how the gun control movement has been impacted by the variety of stakeholders participating across movements and generations, what unites them and what divides them.  

BIO:
Mila Seppälä is working on her Ph.D. dissertation at the John Morton Center for North American Studies as a doctoral researcher funded by the Doctoral Programme of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Turku. Her research focuses on youth activism and political imagination in the gun violence prevention movement in the United States. She has done fieldwork in Austin, Texas as ALSA-Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Research Fellows grantee and published articles on the topic in Political Behavior (forthcoming), Journal of American Studies (2021) and a book chapter in the open access volume Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas (2022).

Contact Information:
mitase@utu.fi 

Mark Shackleton
“Neither exclusively male nor exclusively female”: Fluid gender identities in Beth Brant’s and Tomson Highway’s Trickster Figures 

 

ABSTRACT:
In Trickster tales throughout the world the Trickster protagonist takes on disguises and hidden identities to gain wealth, power, a good meal or to seduce. In some Native American tales, Coyote dresses as a woman to seduce the Chief’s daughter. In Beth Brant’s (Mohawk) short story “Coyote Learns a New Trick” (1985) a female Coyote dresses male to play a trick on a “la-di-da” female Fox, but the Trickster is herself out-tricked when the attractive lesbian Fox seduces her. Tomson Highway (Cree) takes the indeterminate gender of the Native North American Trickster figure much further in his plays and in his novel Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998), by representing the Ojibway Trickster figure Nanabush as male, as female, as a transgender drag artist, as a male passing as female and as a female passing as male. Beyond the questioning of male/female stereotypes, Highway’s “Trickster Camp” undermines patriarchal hegemonies and reasserts the female principle in the universe. 

BIO:
Mark Shackleton is Docent Emeritus at the Department of Modern Languages (English), University of Helsinki, Finland. He is the author of Moving Outward. The Development of Charles Olson’s Use of Myth (1993) and has edited a number of volumes on North American studies including Migration, Preservation and Change (1999), Roots and Renewal (2001), and First and Other Nations (2005). 

He has published widely on Native North American writing and postcolonial studies, including articles on Tomson Highway, Thomas King, Monique Mojica, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, and Simon J. Ortiz. In 2017 he edited International Adoption in North American Literature and Culture.

Contact Information: mark.shackleton@helsinki.fi

Howard Sklar
Hidden Presences in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 

ABSTRACT;
My research examines the various motivations for the practice of hiding one’s Jewish identity, as represented primarily in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, in response to a variety of conditions: religious persecution, ethnic repression, assimilation, self-hatred, or marginal population. A subtle expression of this hiddenness can be found in works that hint at characters’ Jewishness, or present a relatively indefinable “Jewish sensibility,” even though the outward manifestations of that identity are largely absent. An intriguing example of this phenomenon pervades the Jewish American writer Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The novel is primarily narrated by a boy who is both the son of a victim of the 9/11 attacks and the grandson of survivors of Nazi Germany. In addition, the grandparents themselves tell portions of the story through their letters. What makes the characters’ backgrounds peculiar is that the specific mention of their ethnic identities – Jewish or non-Jewish? – is consistently evaded throughout the novel. Readers must fill in their perceptions of these identities, as well as the three traumatic tragedies that shadow them – the Holocaust, the firebombing of Dresden and 9/11 – through the information that is provided. In this sense, these features of the characters remain a hidden presence for them, not only in their own lives, but in our collective understanding of the historical period that we – writer, characters, readers – have experienced together. I will show how Safran Foer constructs this hidden presence for readers, and particularly point to the rhetorical devices that enable him to communicate the complex identities of the characters as they wrestle to find their places in 21st-century America. 

BIO:
Howard Sklar, PhD, is University Lecturer in the Department of Languages (English Philology) at the University of Helsinki, as well as Docent at Tampere University. He has focused primarily on American literature, with emphases in narrative ethics, narrative sympathy, Jewish American literature, and the representation of intellectual disability in fiction and autobiography. His book, The Art of Sympathy in Fiction: Forms of Ethical and Emotional Persuasion, was published by John Benjamins in 2013. He has also published numerous articles in a variety of journals and edited collections. This will be his seventh time as a participant at MLE. 

Contact Information:
howard.sklar@helsinki.fi

Paul Spickard 
Respecting the Ancestors: On Repatriating Indian Remains

ABSTRACT:
Museums and universities across the United States have possession of the remains of a couple of hundred thousand Native Americans, collected by grave robbers in past generations and kept by anthropologists today.  None gave permission for their remains to be used by “science.”  In the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Congress required these institutions to survey the remains, catalogue them, report them to the federal government, find their likely descendants, and return the ancestors promptly.  Thirty-three years later, that law has been honored mainly in the breach. 

Only in the past two or three years have some institutions begun to get serious about this responsibility. Using the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a case study, this paper charts the long path by which well-intended anthropologists managed to see themselves as champions of Native rights, yet never take steps to return the ancestors’ remains.  The anthropologists were good people in their own minds, but to their way of thinking their interests as scientists must necessarily trump the human rights of the people whose bones they kept for study. 

The paper also reports on the longstanding efforts of Chumash Indians to recover their ancestors, and on recent moves by the university to fulfill their legal and moral obligations.

BIO:
Paul Spickard is Distinguished Professor of History and Affiliate Professor of Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Chicana/o Studies, East Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He has held positions at 19 universities and institutes in the United States and abroad.  He has written or edited 24 books and over 100 articles on race, migration, identity, and related topics, including: Shape Shifters: Journeys Across Terrains of Race and Identity (2019); Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies (2017); Race in Mind (2015); Global Mixed Race (2014); Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race and Colonialism in American History and Identity (2007, 2022); Race and Nation: Ethnic Systems in the Modern World (2005); Racial Thinking in the United States (2004); Japanese Americans (1996, 2009); and Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in 20th-Century America (1989).  His current project is Race Changes.

Contact Information: spickard@history.ucsb.edu 

Alexandra Southgate 
'Truth and Openness:' Joint Canadian-US Quaker Activism 1950–1967

ABSTRACT:
In August 1965 fifty people, both American and Canadian, participated in an experiment intended to test the limits of nonviolent action and civilian defense through role playing an invasion of a Quaker peace camp on Grindstone Island in Ontario. Six men dubbed “Unionists” were tasked with performing as invaders representing “a United States-supported right wing Canadian government. This government had occupied major portions of the Canadian heartland in the wake of the disintegration of Canada consequent upon a Quebec secession.” With six umpires and the remaining participants acting as “defenders” of the island, the experiment was intended to last three days. Instead, it was called off after thirty one hours when thirteen people “died” while performing passive resistance to the Unionists. The Grindstone Island experiment was a very extreme example of the many workshops, training sessions, and retreats hosted by Quaker activists in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965 Quaker activists were at a crossroads of sorts. The escalation of the war in Vietnam as well as the successes of the ongoing Civil Rights Movement prompted Quaker pacifists to rethink their strategies of non-violence and their commitment to the growing peace movement. The Grindstone Island retreat represents just one way that Quakers attempted to confront the tensions within their ranks and the changing face of peace activism. This paper analyzes some of the strategies used by Quaker activists to oppose war and imperialism with a particular focus on the many border-crossing meetings and events hosted by the American Friends Service Committee and the Canadian Friends Service Committee. One of the core tenants highlighted during these events was “truth and openness.” Thus, this paper explores the transnational connections between American and Canadian Quakers during the early Cold War in order to highlight the ability of religion to open national boundaries. 

BIO:
Alexandra Southgate is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Temple University in Philadelphia. Her dissertation explores transnational Quaker activism during the Cold War through the lenses of diplomatic history, cultural history, and religious studies. Born on Vancouver Island, British Columbia she attended the University of Toronto for both her BA (Major: History; Minors: Political Science and Women & Gender Studies) and her MA (Contemporary International History). Her SSHRC-funded MA thesis explored military intelligence as a force for colonialism in the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War. Alexandra has held a variety of awards and fellowships including the Wilson Center’s Cold War Archives Research Fellowship, Temple’s University Fellowship, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship. She has created a number of briefing books for Canada Declassified, a digital archive at the University of Toronto, and is the editor of a forthcoming collection for Rejoinder, an online journal published by the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University, entitled “The Archival is Political.”  

Contact Information:
alexandra.southgate@temple.edu

Tisha Ulmer 
Or Does It Explode?:  A Raisin in the Sun, Reparations, and Ruptures in Black America 

ABSTRACT:
When A Raisin in the Sun debuted in 1960, black immigrants were less than 1% of the population.  Today, roughly one in five black people in the United States is either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant and it is projected that by 2060, one-third of the black population will be of immigrant origin. This shift has occurred because of the 1965 Immigration Act, which President Kennedy proposed to “correct the inequities in America’s immigration laws.”  Passed in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, it undid the 1924 Immigration Act, which limited immigration to those from Northern and Western Europe.  Lorraine Hansberry was committed to realism, to art as a form of political protest, and her play reflects the various threads that comprised the fabric of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, specifically poverty and identity. These themes continue to resonate in what I would argue, is the most consequential movement in the Black American community since the Civil Rights movement, the push for reparations in light of the racial wealth gap, in which the average black family is worth about $60,000 while the average white family is worth about $338,000.  The movement has gained so much traction that in 2020 every presidential candidate had to address reparations, including the Republican incumbent.  A key aspect of the movement is the assertion that reparations should be reserved for the descendants of black American enslaved people, which has led to charges of xenophobia from black immigrants.  Indeed, new terms have emerged to describe black people enslaved in the United States and their descendants, such as ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery), (FBA) Foundational Black Americans, and American Freedman, terms that are being considered for the next US census.  In this presentation, I will argue that this assertion of a distinct identity and the push for reparations solely for the descendants of black people enslaved in the United States is not xenophobic, but a necessary change in the context of these demographic shifts and the continued struggle for equality.  In particular, I will explore how Lorraine Hansberry anticipates these issues of identity and economics in A Raisin in the Sun

BIO:
Tisha Ulmer is an Assistant Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York where she teaches African-American literature, English composition and developmental English. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  Her writing has appeared in publications such as California English Journal and the Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning.

Contact Information:
tulmer1@verizon.net 

Dirk van Rens
“Crooked World, Straight World, Same Rules”: Crime, the City, and Postcolonial Trauma in Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle (2021) and Crook Manifesto (2023) 

ABSTRACT:
This paper examines the convergence of the crime genre, urban geography, and postcolonial trauma in Colson Whitehead’s recent novels Harlem Shuffle (2021) and Crook Manifesto (2023)—the first two instalments of Whitehead’s Harlem Trilogy. The main question governing my analysis is: how do the representation of New York City and the adoption of the crime genre in the two novels facilitate and shape the articulation of the postcolonial trauma of racism in the US? My reading utilises a blend of literary urban, mobility, and trauma studies in order to provide an answer to this question. 

Drawing upon Fredric Jameson’s concept of cognitive mapping (1988), I argue that the dual perspective of the protagonist in the two works—part-time furniture salesperson, part-time fence Ray Carney—allows the novels to address the, predominantly racialised, structures governing life in the city. This feature is corroborated by the distinctive representation of the New York cityscape in the two texts. My understanding of cognitive mapping views the concept as pertaining to an understanding of position (spatially and societally) on both the individual as well as collective level (Tally 2012). 

The theoretical framework of this paper combines the relatively novel fields of literary urban and mobility studies with recent (re)developments in literary trauma studies. Until recently, trauma studies largely neglected the literary representations of postcolonial traumas such as slavery and its afterlives, to use Saidiya Hartman’s term (2007) (Craps 2014; Davis and Meretoja 2020). My paper moreover follows in the footsteps of recent efforts in the field which locate traumas within their socio-historical contexts and in relation to overarching structural issues rather than simply as standalone individual events (Balaev 2014; Bond and Craps 2020; Pérez Zapata 2021). 

BIO:
Dirk van Rens is a Doctoral Researcher in anglophone literature at the University of Eastern Finland. His dissertation centres on postmodern negotiations of the traumas of slavery and its legacies in contemporary Afro-Atlantic fiction. Van Rens is currently funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation Central Fund and has previously received grants from the OLVI Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund, and the Finnish Cultural Foundation North Karelia Regional Fund. His research has featured in English Studies (2023).

Contact Information:
dirk.van.rens@uef.fi 

Vincent Veerbeek 
The History of the Carlisle Indian School Band through an Indigenous Lens, 1880-1918

ABSTRACT:
When the United States government established a network of boarding schools in the late nineteenth century as part of their attempts to assimilate Native American people and erase their cultures, music played a central role in this settler-colonial project. One particularly significant use of music was through marching bands, which shaped the sound and culture of most schools. In these bands, young Native Americans learned to play brass instruments, marched in uniform, and performed a repertoire of classical and patriotic music for their peers and the public. Rather than straightforward assimilation, however, the outcomes of this education program were often more complex, as students used music to develop their own identities both as Indigenous people and as Americans. 

As the first of 24 large off-reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School that opened in Pennsylvania in 1879 established a blueprint for this type of education, and the school band was central to that model. Over the following decades, band music remained a constant feature of everyday life both at Carlisle and at the other schools. During that time, hundreds of young Native Americans trained their musical skills, and many of them went on to pursue careers as professional musicians. Among them were a large group of former boarding school students who led their own school bands and taught the next generation of young Native Americans. 

This conference presentation will present the history of the Carlisle Indian School band and discuss the significance of this institution to US assimilation policy and settler colonialism. To better understand the history and legacy of boarding school marching bands, the paper will highlight the experiences of several Native American musicians who became school band directors and used the opportunity to participate in US society on their own terms and make themselves heard. 

BIO:
Vincent Veerbeek (1997) is a PhD researcher in the University of Helsinki’s doctoral program in History and Cultural Heritage. He graduated from Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, with a BA in American Studies (2018) and an MA in Historical Studies (2020). In the past few years, his research has focused primarily on government-run boarding schools for Native American children in the United States. In 2019, he spent time at the University of California, Riverside to research the music program of Sherman Institute, and he wrote his master’s thesis about economic education at the school. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation about boarding school marching bands and their Native American directors. During the 2023-2024 academic year, he was a Fulbright visiting scholar at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. 

Contact Information: vincent.veerbeek@helsinki.fi

 

Balázs Venkovits
100 Years of Illegal Immigration in North America: Restrictions, Control and Illegals at the Border 

ABSTRACT:
The immigration quotas introduced by the United States in 1924, as a culmination of calls for restrictions, ended mass arrivals from regions that had dominated the New Immigration era, including Central and Eastern Europe. As the underlying push and pull factors did not disappear, however, the US did not cease to become attractive and restrictions also had other consequences, including people attempting to enter the United States illegally from the two neighboring countries, Canada and Mexico. Such endeavors were not unprecedented but reached new heights in the 1920s with thousands of “undesirables” trying to enter the United States illegally. 

The paper discusses how illegal immigration emerged on the US-Canada and US-Mexico border in the wake of the quotas introduced by the Johnson-Reed Act using examples from various groups and focusing especially on Hungarian immigrants, while also exploring what the American responses to the happenings were, and how illegal immigration and immigrants were perceived and presented in North America and Europe. Besides discussing key events, trends and images on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1920s, the paper also reveals how contemporary representations resemble those from 100 years ago. 

BIO: 
Balázs Venkovits is associate professor and director of the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen and head of the Canadian Studies Centre at the institution. He earned his Ph.D. in 2014 and completed his habilitation in 2021. Among others, he is the recipient of Hungarian OTKA (2022-26) and Jedlik (2013-14) grants, a JFK Research Fellowship (2013) and a Fulbright (2010-2011). His academic interests include travel writing studies, migration studies, US-Hungarian relations, and Hungarian immigration to North America. He has presented and published papers internationally in Hungary, Finland, the US, Mexico, Poland, the UK, France, and Indonesia. 

Contact Information:
venkovits.balazs@arts.unideb.hu

Frederick Wasser 
American Fragmenting in the Sixties: Rockwell Leaves The Saturday Evening Post 

ABSTRACT:

The current culture wars are disturbing signs of balkanized American popular culture.  While balkanization along racial, regional and class divisions have always been in flux throughout U.S. history, the visceral nature of current fractures is an ongoing reaction to the 1960s civil rights movement.  Prior to that period, a unified popular culture was visible and dominant. This earlier culture was conservative based on class and racial repression and gender stratification.  The New Deal challenged some of the repressions but the center still held and accommodated some liberal ideologies.  The most visible cultural marker of this unification were general interest magazines, notably The Saturday Evening Post.  These magazines attracted a mass audience on a weekly basis and its content fed the narratives of Hollywood and radio. This culture was portrayed by a remarkable run of magazine covers painted by Norman Rockwell from 1915 until 1962.   

In these covers Rockwell painted the Post’s view of Americans as white smalltown dwellers.  He did paint pictures elsewhere, that embodied the New Deal message (the Four Freedoms paintings), and by the 1960s he wanted to deal with civil rights subjects that the Post had hitherto refused to accept.  In the 1960s The Post itself was changing its practices in response to a loss of advertising revenue to the new home of mainstream culture; television. Rockwell severed his relationship with the Post and did his civil rights paintings for new clients.   

There is not a simple causal relationship between Rockwell’s liberalism and his departure from the Post. I still postulate that his departure signifies that the consensual nature of mid-century American pop culture was coming apart, particularly for a mainstream realist artist.  I wish to present my research on this episode to the Maple Leaf Conference, building upon my scheduled Spring research into the Rockwell archives located in Western Massachusetts.    

 

BIO:
Frederick Wasser was a Fulbright Bicentennial Distinguished Chair at the University of Helsinki (2013/14).  He has published three books in media studies. The most recent is Twentieth Century Fox (Routledge 2021).  His award-winning book on home video and Hollywood was inspired by his freelance work in the film industry throughout the 1980s.  He has also published a literary translation, several studies in film and media and some literary criticism.  He is winding up a career as a professor at Brooklyn College CUNY.   

Contact Information:
wasserf@comcast.net

Dana Weidman 
Rethinking Rethinking Nanook of the North 

ABSTRACT:
Realism in film indicates the attempt to capture or present real events. The process of filmmaking requires framing, reconstruction, and often reenactment. This is the story of the making of Nanook of the North, which illustrates the tension of filmmaking and the difficulty of attempting to capture the historical moment. 

In 1910, Robert J. Flaherty set off to the Canadian North to become a miner and prospector, like his father. The Canadian Railroad was being built at that time to transport wheat to the Hudson Bay. On his third expedition, Flaherty took a film camera with a portable printing and developing machine and some lighting equipment. 

In 1916, he was editing his film in Toronto, when he dropped a cigarette on the celluloid, and 30,000 feet of footage burst into flames. Flaherty was badly burned. In the hospital, he told his wife, Frances, that his film was a travelogue: people, sleds, dogs, and igloos. It wasn’t a story. 

He was determined to return to Northern Canada to make a film that would present the perspective of an Inuit person and bring American viewers into this world. 

Nanook of the North debuted one hundred and two years ago. It was the first feature length non-fiction or documentary film. The filmmaker, Robert J. Flaherty, used dramatization techniques including the creation of a main character and some staged scenes to present the challenges of life in the Arctic Circle to audiences in the modern world of the 1920s. This decision to structure a non-fiction story with Inuit actors created a controversy that has come to eclipse and distort how contemporary students understand the incredible accomplishment of this early filmmaker. 

BIO:
Dana Weidman is a Professor of Communications, Media Arts and Film. She has an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute and a BA in English from Grinnell College. 

Contact Information:
weidman@sunydutchess.edu

 

Jane Weiss 
“Si vas para el Bronx / Ve a la casita de Chema”: The Casita Gardens of Mott Haven and Melrose

ABSTRACT:
For many, “the South Bronx” connotes crime, fires, and the desolation of the 1970s, when highway construction, redlining, and white flight devastated that New York City borough. Now, in 2024, South Bronx neighborhoods flourish, anchored by gardens that earlier generations of Puerto Rican arrivals – United States citizens coming from a colonial territory to the “mainland” -- planted in vacant lots, each centered on casitas, “little houses,” to reclaim the commons. These South Bronx casitas have inspired musical and literary tributes and a growing array of academic scholarship. 

In Mott Haven Jose Manuel “Chema” Soto and neighbors, in what Joseph Sciorra terms “life-affirming response to political negligence and economic tyranny,” created the most renowned Bronx casita, El Rincón Criollo, in what Joseph Sciorra terms “life-affirming response to political negligence and economic tyranny.” “Criolla” (Creole) acknowledges its hybridity, melding Puerto Rican vernacular landscape features and Bronx urbanism. Displaced by developers in 1994, El Rincón Criollo relocated nearby, where it still blooms. The casita at its heart is an airy cottage with porches, shady spots to chat, make music, play dominoes and checkers, and have snacks; a fogón (summer kitchen); and space for performances, especially bomba dance and plena, songs called “el periódico cantado” (the sung newspaper) with lyrics commenting on current events. 

While community gardens in Manhattan have been bulldozed by developers, South Bronx residents have lived up to their tough reputation -- forcing developers of luxury apartments to include affordable units, and defending the contested green spaces that they cultivated through the hard decades. Now obligatory stops for politicians’ campaigns, casitas have forged unity among neighbors through flowers, feasts and singing. El Rincón Criollo – La Casita de Chema -- is now on the New York State Register of Historic Places and is a permanent city park.

BIO: 
Jane Weiss is an associate professor and the Literature Program Director in the English Department at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, where she teaches American literature and composition courses. Her Ph. D. dissertation, “’Many Things Take My Time’: The Journals of Susan Warner,” was an annotated edition of Susan Warner’s diaries. Her current research focuses on depictions of women's work in nineteenth-century domestic fiction and industrial literature. Publications include “Manufacturing Eden: The Canals and Rivers of Lowell, 1820-1870,” in Waterways and Byways: 1600 – 1890, edited by Peter Benes (Historic Deerfield Publications, 2014);  “The Invisible Adjunct: Inverse Panopticism in the English Department” in Remaking the American Campus, edited by Jonathan Silverman and Meghan M. Sweeney (MacFarland, 2016); “’A Daughter Three Thousand Miles Off’: Transcultural Adoption in Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World,” in International Adoption in North American Literature and Culture: Transnational, Transracial, and Transcultural Narratives, edited by Mark Shackleton (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017); “Minds among the Spindles and Chevilles: Identity, Genre, and Literary Representation among New England ‘Mill Girls’ and Lyonnaise Canuses” in International Workers’ Literature, edited by Michael Sanders (Palgrave, in press).

Contact Information:
weissj@bway.net 

Mimi White
Hallmark TV Goes Global: The Dancing Detective, A Deadly Tango 

ABSTRACT:
What happens when Hallmark Television, generally considered quintessentially American, takes its characters global? In The Dancing Detective, an American detective who prefers working alone is sent to Malta to help solve the murder of a corporate CEO. As it happens, he was in Malta for the annual ballroom dance competition sponsored by his company, and the detective is forced to work with a local ballroom dance teacher so that she can be “undercover” as a contestant in the dance competition. This made-for-Hallmark television movie features the American lone-wolf detective (in this case a female), who has to learn to be collaborative in order to solve the case, which she does with the help of the debonair ballroom dance teacher who serves as her partner in the corporate dance competition.  In addition, the movie functions somewhat like a travelogue, with stunning shots of Malta used as transitions between scenes. This is NOT the small-town U.S. of A. that many people associate with Hallmark television, but a global adventure, with a touch of romance. This paper examines the ways in which this movie signals a shift in Hallmark made-for-television movies that offers a broader vision of the world than that typically ascribed to Hallmark media. 

BIO:

Mimi White is a professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Northwestern University. She held the Bicentennial Fulbright Chair in 2004-05. She is writing a book on Hallmark media, under advance contract from Oxford University Press.  

Contact Information: 
m-white@northwestern.edu 

Oscar Winberg 
In the Networks We Trust? Broadcasters, Congress, and the Struggles over Television News  

ABSTRACT:
In the modern political history of the United States, the most important institution neglected in the historiography is television. Political institutions, including all three branches of government, viewed the power of television news with deep suspicion following the ascendance of the medium in the 1960s. The transformative years of the late 1960s and early 1970s are often understood as a time of outside pressure and political harassment that the television networks overcame. In fact, the most important assault on television news came not from national politicians but from local broadcasters. 

My paper turns to the tensions between local and national. With federal regulations limiting ownership of television stations, the networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) depended on affiliate agreements with local stations around the country to reach national audiences. Due to the dominance of the three networks, television is often understood as a liberal institution. Yet, the affiliates, often political conservatives, regularly challenged network executives over television news. The local, however, has been forgotten in the historiography of television news in favor of the national. 

My paper, recognizing the agency of broadcasters at affiliate stations and the structures of broadcasting that made them powerful, is an attempt to correct these oversights within the political history of television news. Relying on correspondence between broadcasters and members of Congress, oral histories, government documents, and reports in trade papers, my paper studies the complexities and contradictions informing the political fights that transformed television news in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

BIO:

Oscar Winberg is a TIAS postdoctoral fellow at the Turku Institute of Advanced Studies and the John Morton Center for North American Studies at the University of Turku. He received his PhD in History from Åbo Akademi University in 2021. His work, which has appeared in the European Journal of American Studies, PS: Political Science & Politics, Finsk Tidskrift, Wider Screen, and Lähikuva, focuses on the modern United States with a particular interest in the political history of mass media.

Contact Information: 
ohbwin@utu.fi

Adela Winkler
“We need to stop this export of death!”. What illegal fentanyl trade means to American international and domestic policies and politics.  

ABSTRACT:
This paper examines how international fentanyl trafficking influences American domestic and international politics and policies. Opioid epidemic sweeping through United States since the beginning of century has taken a new direction in recent years when a synthetic opioid - fentanyl - was introduced to black market (it has been used in medicine for decades). Fentanyl is produced and distributed through a chain of international manufacturers and suppliers, which is no novelty when it comes to illicit drug trade. What is distinctive about this particular social phenomenon is that transnational connections fentanyl trade has created have profound consequences for American politics and policymaking – both on domestic and international levels. First and foremost, the issue of fentanyl abuse is the newest sword in decades-long culture wars between Republicans and Democrats. Fentanyl overdose caused 110 000 deaths in 2022 alone and currently is the single most common cause of death in Americans under 45, so all constituencies are lively interested in ways of dealing with the crisis. Liberals suggest that governmental policies should focus on “harm reduction” while conservatives opt for more restrictive immigration policies and push for more severe punishments for drug-related crimes. The issue becomes even more crucial giving the 2024 presidential election campaign with Donald Trump declaring to make fentanyl crisis the focal point of his crusade to build a wall on US South-Western border. The majority of fentanyl illegally sold and consumed in the US comes from China – either directly through the mail or through Mexico where compounds produced in China are mixed in rudimentary laboratories and sometimes pressed into counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Even though Latinos are the least fentanyl-abusing ethnic group, Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans bear undeserved consequences in this newest chapter of “war on drugs” ongoing still since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The issue of actual and supposed fentanyl trade through American-Mexican border has caused unprecedented tensions between governments of the two countries. It has also profoundly affected Chinese-American diplomatic relations.       

BIO: 
Adela Winkler, M.A., MSc. – is an anthropologist specializing in American Studies and currently a PhD candidate at Polish Academy of Sciences. 

Contact Information: 
winkler.adela@gmail.com

David Witwer 
The Riddle in the Middle of America’s Most Powerful Union:  The Journalists' Search to Understand Jimmy Hoffa in the 1950s and 1960s.

ABSTRACT:
On a summer afternoon in 1975, the most notorious labor leader in the United States disappeared, the presumed victim of a mob hit.  James R. Hoffa’s case remains unsolved, and his story continues to fascinate the public, who have encountered versions of it in books, television, and movies, most recently, with Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film, The Irishman.  But even before he went missing, Hoffa’s fame, or perhaps more accurately, his infamy, rested on the puzzle that he presented to the American public. He was notorious for corruption and ties to organized crime while at the same time he was seen as a heroic union leader by his membership. As the title for a profile of him in the Reader’s Digest from 1955 put it, Hoffa was, “The Riddle in the Middle of America’s Most Powerful Union.”   

News coverage reflected this paradox.  Negative stories with ominous descriptions of the Teamsters President littered newspapers and news magazines in the late 1950s and early 1960s, depicting him as a mobbed-up, power-hungry dictator.  But published reports on Hoffa sometimes strayed from that script.  The embattled Teamster leader frequently offered journalists extended access, bringing them along for days at a time on his journeys to union halls across the country, and letting them experience the quotidian realities of his long days working at the Teamsters headquarters.  The personal correspondence of these journalists reveals the impact that such contact had, as they wrote to their editors about the difference between the man they expected to meet and the sincerely dedicated union leader they encountered. The result was a contradictory combination of perspectives, sometimes in the same news publication. Newsweek, for instance, referred to Hoffa as a “sawed-off tough guy,” and one of “labor’s hoodlums.” But an in-depth profile of him in the same magazine in 1962 asserted that “his dedication to his job is almost total. His workday spans sixteen to eighteen hours, very often seven days a week, and is filled with conferences and strings of snap decisions.”   

This conference paper focuses on a set of prominent journalists who wrote in-depth profiles of Hoffa for mainstream news outlets in the late 1950s, publications that included Life magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Hearst Newspaper Syndicate. It highlights the contrast between the editorial direction of their publications—hostile towards Hoffa and by extension union power—versus the journalists’ more sympathetic portraits of a dedicated labor leader. The correspondence between editors and writers, as well as the personal recollections of these journalists, offer us a peek behind the curtain, a chance to study the media construction of a contradictory Hoffa persona. This paper reveals that the search for Hoffa began well before that day in July 1975 that he went missing, as reporters sought to uncover who the real Hoffa was. 

BIO:
David Witwer has a PhD in History from Brown University. He has published three books, Corruption and Reform in the Teamsters Union (2003); Shadow of the Racketeer: Scandal in Organized Labor (2009): and co-authored with Catherine Rios, Murder in the Garment District: The Grip of Organized Crime and the Decline of Labor in the United States (2020). He is a professor of History and American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg. 

Contact Information:
dxw44@psu.edu