A Superpower by Nature: The Environment in American Studies

Utrecht, the Netherlands

December 3, 2021

How does the environment figure in American Studies – and what does American Studies bring to environmental studies? Since the 1990s we have witnessed a “greening” of the humanities and social sciences resulting in a growing body of scholarship that investigates the complex relationship between culture, politics and the environment. This conference explores the state of the field with regard to environmental (American) studies from interdisciplinary, transnational, urban and rural perspectives. While older forms of ecocriticism often idealized nature and studied “wilderness” in a national framework, more recent research focuses on socio-environmental issues such as eco-apartheid, indigenous knowledge systems, petroleum culture and queer sustainability, not just in North America or Europe but also across the global South. In the Americas, (settler) colonialism had an indelible impact on the hemisphere’s ecosystems and their inhabitants, for instance through monocrop plantation agriculture, cattle ranching, and mining. When the United States became a global player by the end of the nineteenth century, the extractive and exploitative politics behind these business models were exported around the world and merged with other imperial projects, exemplified by the practices of the United Fruit Company in Central America, Monsanto and Union Carbide in India, and Chevron in Angola. We welcome papers that build upon this cross-cutting research to examine the environment in American Studies, both within and outside the United States. Possible topics include (but are not limited to) the intersections between social movements and struggles for environmental justice in the Americas; indigenous environmental movements; the Anthropocene and Plantationocene; the environment and US militarism, war, and empire; literary ecology and environmental literary scholarship; political ecology; blue humanities; and the environment in the arts and popular cultures of the Americas.

The conference format is hybrid. The organizers will accommodate both in person and online panels. The conference is free for members of NASA, as well as for students and independent scholars. The fee for non-members with academic appointments is €30, including (optional) NASA membership.

 Proposal Submission

Paper proposals, including the title, a 300-word abstract, and 2-page CV, should be sent by e-mail to nasaconference2021@gmail.com no later than June 30, 2021. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to the material are welcome and encouraged. Early career researchers and (post)graduate students are also encouraged to apply. Further information about the program, registration, travel, and accommodation will be announced after the selection of the papers. Following the conference, the organizers intend to solicit proposals based on the conference papers for chapters in an edited volume or special journal issue.