Cultures of United States Imperialism

Cultures of United States Imperialism

New Americanists

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Book Pages: 680 Illustrations: Published: January 1994

American Studies, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies

Cultures of United States Imperialism represents a major paradigm shift that will remap the field of American Studies. Pointing to a glaring blind spot in the basic premises of the study of American culture, leading critics and theorists in cultural studies, history, anthropology, and literature reveal the "denial of empire" at the heart of American Studies. Challenging traditional definitions and periodizations of imperialism, this volume shows how international relations reciprocally shape a dominant imperial culture at home and how imperial relations are enacted and contested within the United States.
Drawing on a broad range of interpretive practices, these essays range across American history, from European representations of the New World to the mass media spectacle of the Persian Gulf War. The volume breaks down the boundary between the study of foreign relations and American culture to examine imperialism as an internal process of cultural appropriation and as an external struggle over international power. The contributors explore how the politics of continental and international expansion, conquest, and resistance have shaped the history of American culture just as much as the cultures of those it has dominated. By uncovering the dialectical relationship between American cultures and international relations, this collection demonstrates the necessity of analyzing imperialism as a political or economic process inseparable from the social relations and cultural representations of gender, race, ethnicity, and class at home.

Contributors. Lynda Boose, Mary Yoko Brannen, Bill Brown, William Cain, Eric Cheyfitz, Vicente Diaz, Frederick Errington, Kevin Gaines, Deborah Gewertz, Donna Haraway, Susan Jeffords, Myra Jehlen, Amy Kaplan, Eric Lott, Walter Benn Michaels, Donald E. Pease, Vicente Rafael, Michael Rogin, José David Saldívar, Richard Slotkin, Doris Sommer, Gauri Viswanathan, Priscilla Wald, Kenneth Warren, Christopher P. Wilson


“[T]he collection will prove useful in an American studies context for the variety of perspectives and disciplines which it admits.” — Mark Ellis, The Americas

“In this extraordinary new collection of essays on imperialist discourse and practice in the U.S., editors Kaplan and Pease bring together some of the most provocative, pathbreaking work being done in American literary and cultural studies today. The volume significantly reformulates the terrain of the field by questioning the dominant paradigms of exceptionalism and nationalism which for so long have defined the study of American literature and culture. . . . Together these essays cover immense historical and geographical terrain, employ a wide range of critical methodologies, investigate an impressive spectrum of cultural materials, and practice interdisciplinary cultural studies at its best.” — Michelle Burnham , American Studies

"A superb collection of essays that presents a unique model for a Post-American cultural studies. As a whole, the volume argues persuasively for the centrality of culture in the study of imperialist politics and the defining significance of imperialism in U.S. cultural formations." — Steven Mailloux, University of California, Irvine

"This collection is well positioned to intervene in the most important scholarly debates of our time." — George Lipsitz, University of California, San Diego


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amy Kaplan is Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania.

Donald E. Pease is Avalon Foundation Chair of the Humanities and Professor of English, Dartmouth College.

Table of Contents Back to Top

"Left Alone with America": The Absence of Empire in the Study of American Culture / Amy Kaplan 3

New Perspectives on U.S. Culture and Imperialism / Donald E. Pease 22

1. Nation-Building as Empire-Building

Why Did the Europeans Cross the Ocean? A Seventeenth-Century Riddle / Myra Jehlen 41

Terms of Assimilation: Legislating Subjectivity in the Emerging Nation / Priscilla Wald 59

The Naming of Yale College: British Imperialism and American Higher Education / Gauri Viswanathan 85

Savage Law: The Plot Against American Indians in Johnson and Graham's Lessee v. M'Intosh and The Pioneers / Eric Cheyfitz 109

Science Fiction, the World's Fair, and the Prosthetics of Empire, 1910-1915 / Bill Brown 129

Buffalo Bill's "Wild West" and the Mythologization of the American Empire / Richard Slotkin 164

II. Borderline Negotiations of Race, Gender, and Nation

White Love: Surveillance and Nationalist Resistance in the U.S. Colonization of the Philippines / Vicente L. Rafael 185

Black and Blue on San Juan Hill / Amy Kaplan 219

Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy in the Garden of Eden, New York City, 1908-1936 / Donna Haraway 237

Americo Paredes and Decolonization / Jose David Saldivar 292

Pious Sites: Chamorro Culture Between Spanish Catholicism and American Liberal Individualism / Vicente M. Diaz 312

Plotting the Border: John Reed, Pancho Villa, and Insurgent Mexico / Christopher P. Wilson 340

III. Colonizing Resistance or Resisting Colonization?

Anti-Imperial Americanism / Walter Benn Michaels 365

Appeals for (Mis)recognition: Theorizing the Diaspora / Kenneth W. Warren 392

Resisting the Heat: Menchu, Morrison, and Incompetent Readers / Doris Sommer 407

Black Americans' Racial Uplift Ideology as "Civilizing Mission": Pauline E. Hopkins on Race and Imperialism / Kevin Gaines 433

From Liberalism to Communism: The Political Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois / William E. Cain 456

White Like Me: Racial Cross-Dressing and the Construction of American Whiteness / Eric Lott 474

IV. Imperial Spectacles

"Make My Day!": Spectacle as Amnesia in Imperial Politics [and] The Sequel / Michael Rogin 499

The Patriot System, or Managerial Heroism / Susan Jeffords 535

Hiroshima, the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, and the Gulf War Post-National Spectacles / Donald E. Pease 557

Techno-Muscularity and the "Boy Eternal": From the Quagmire to the Gulf / Lynda Boose 581

"Bwana Mickey": Constructing Cultural Consumption at Tokyo Disneyland / Mary Yoko Brannen 617

We Think, Therefore They Are? On Occidentalizing the World / Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington 635

Index 657

Contributors 669
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1413-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1400-4
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