TRANSNATIONAL TREND IN U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS

REFLECTIONS ON A PATH-BREAKING BOOK SERIES

Michael J. McGandy is Senior Editor and Editorial Director of the Three Hills imprint at Cornell University Press. Follow him on Twitter @michaelmcgandy.

usw32.pngOne hears so much these days, in academic circles, about the transnational that it is surprising that a decade ago it was a new concept in many fields. This was particularly so among historians of United States foreign relations, where high-level diplomacy and affairs of state had been the focus of attention as long as anyone could remember. So it was that the inaugural publications in The United States in the World—a book series dedicated to transnational scholarship—were unexpected, innovative, and trend-setting in the study of what was once termed “foreign affairs.” This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the first two books published in the series, and it is time to recognize the insight of the founding series editors and give tribute to the field-changing impact of the twenty volumes that have been published since 2007.

The story of the series goes back to 2005, when Mark Philip Bradley and Paul A. Kramer collaborated with my predecessor at Cornell University Press, Alison Kallett, to frame the series concept. At that time no press had a series of books in history focusing on the role that non-state actors, flows of capital and peoples, and non-governmental organizations had in state diplomacy and international relations. The editors proposed to push beyond the then-popular idea of global history and then to “draw on domestic and international archives,” “challenge conventional periodizations,” and “explore how people, ideas, and cultures traveled between the United States and the rest of the world.” Moreover, while looking ever outward to the larger world, the books were always intended to enrich and broaden, as Mark and Paul wrote in their series proposal, “our understanding of modern United States history.”


TODAY IT IS HARD TO FIND A WORK IN THE HISTORY OF U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS THAT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE RELEVANCE OF INFORMAL NETWORKS, MIGRATION, AND POPULAR PROTEST IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF DIPLOMACY AND MILITARY POLICY.


The initial books in the series—Aims McGuiness’s Path of Empire and Usama Makdisi’s Artillery of Heaven, followed quickly by Hiroshi Kitamura’s Screening Enlightenmentdemonstrated the utility of transnational methods in understanding the application of American power, in formal and informal modes, and the reciprocal actions that often changed formal American policy. Early reviews of the books were highly positive and they were quickly adopted for use in courses. A trend had been set.

Numerous scholars and, not surprisingly, a handful of university and commercial academic presses noted the efficacy of transnational analysis and got on board. Now it is hard to find a work in the history of U.S. foreign relations that, at the very least, does not recognize the relevance of, for instance, informal networks, migration, and popular protest in the development of diplomacy and military policy. There are now, by my count, four book series dedicated to exploring transnational themes in the history of American foreign relations. Arguably all of them have been inspired by The United States in the World.

The ubiquity of the transnational in 2017 should not obscure the risky innovation embarked upon by Mark and Paul in 2005. No doubt the country or area study concept (institutionalized by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress) was long out of date by the early 2000s, as were analyses of bilateral relations. But traditional historians of foreign relations were nonetheless hewing to standard (and worthy) topics for their new books. New models for writing the history of foreign relations were available but hard to transfer to a field that placed the state at the center of its work. The concept of the Atlantic world, for instance, was something that scholars of early Modern and Early American history had been exploring, and fruitfully, for a while. But those were eras of empires and not nation states, and most historians have been trained to understand that the nation state makes all the difference. Thus you will rarely find a self-styled scholar of the Atlantic world pushing his or her work past 1848, and most prefer to stay safely in the periods prior to the nineteenth century; most Atlantic world scholars were not trained in the history of the nation state, but they still respected the mid-nineteenth-century rise of nation states as a boundary of their work.

So to look at affairs of the nation state from a perspective that downplayed the primacy of presidents, formal diplomats, and military leaders was highly unorthodox. Some wondered how one could study affairs of state and yet not focus on the authorized actors of the state. And there were certainly discussions among scholars in the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations as to whether this new transnational work was really the history of foreign relations or a different sort of history altogether.


THE TRANSNATIONAL TURN IN THE HISTORY OF U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS, TEN YEARS OUT, HAS CLEARLY ENRICHED THE FIELD.


The answer to those questions came in the clear value of the research published in the series. Keying in on, for example, American missionaries in the Middle East, vagabond prospectors in the North American west, and motion picture executives in U.S.-occupied Japan did offer deep insight on the foreign policy of the United States across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The perspective shifted, but many of the goals of traditional histories of foreign relations remained—the analysis of power and its application, the understanding of policy formulation, and how domestic political regimes affect foreign policy. The transnational turn in the history of U.S. foreign relations, ten years out, has clearly enriched the field.

Yet there was another risk embedded in the transnational proposition. This intellectual move came at a time when, arguably, the American state was at its strongest on the international scene and when the American executive was preeminent in its power. So, many people asked if, while it was intellectually defensible to study U.S. foreign relations by following non-state actors, it was not ethically questionable. Was this not a time when we needed deeper and more critical histories of the state, its institutions, and its officers? Of course, The United States in the World series sought to expand the field of scholarship and discussion, not dominate it; there was no pretense that, in fostering transnational work, more traditional analyses of the state would or should cease. But the challenge remained (and remains): Was it wise to decenter the state when some were making arguments that the United States was enjoying a unipolar moment of power and influence? And even if that unipolar moment has passed (now that we are in 2017) the legal and administrative prerogatives of the so-called unitary executive have not waned. Does not overweening presidential power require more state-based history and not less?


RATHER THAN OFFERING A SET OF OUTSIDER STORIES TO THE LARGER HISTORY OF U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS, THE BEST TRANSNATIONAL HISTORIES HAVE SHOWN HOW PUTATIVE OUTSIDERS HAVE BEEN INTEGRAL TO CARRYING OUT, REFORMING, AND SOMETIMES OUTRIGHT RESISTING THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE AMERICAN STATE.


Considered from the standpoint of historical method, there is a case to be made that transnational work can and does augment critical engagement with state institutions, offices, and actors. Mark and Paul, and then new co-editors David C. Engerman and Amy S. Greenberg, have been keen to investigate the feedback loop connecting the projection of American power, its mediation both abroad and in non-state institutions, and then its reflection back to the seats of domestic U.S. authority. No matter how far the analysis goes from the formal state, it does come back. And the vectors by which power is projected and then reflected are often where one finds non-state actors and non-governmental institutions, for instance, most engaged and influential in the transmission and implementation of policy. Rather than offering a set of outsider stories to the larger history of U.S. foreign relations, then, the best transnational histories have shown how putative outsiders have been integral to carrying out, reforming, and sometimes outright resisting the foreign policy of the American state.

As the scholarship in the field of U.S. foreign relations has followed the path charted by The United States in the World, the series itself has grown and changed. In 2012 David Engerman came on board as a co-editor, bringing with him strong expertise in the post-World War II histories of Europe, the Soviet Union, and modernization and development programs. Then, in 2013, the board of editors expanded again with the addition of Amy Greenberg. Amy’s arrival consolidated the series’s unique strength in the history of American foreign relations in the nineteenth century. Recently acquired titles addressing democratization efforts in Russia in the early post-Soviet period and American policy and social movements addressing the Greek Revolution of the 1820s and 1830s are key examples of how the expertise of Engerman and Greenberg have further broadened the series.

With Sean L. Malloy’s excellent book on the internationalism of the Black Panther Party, Out of Oakland, just published and eight more titles anticipated to appear in the next couple of years, The United States in the World is as productive and vital in its tenth year of publishing activity as it was in 2007. It has been my honor to be associated with the series since that first year of publication, and I look forward to another decade of innovative, influential, and well-written books.

The Transnational Trend in U.S. Foreign Relations 10 Years In: Reflections on a Path-breaking Book Series

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

TransCultural Exchange’s 2018 International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts

http://www.transculturalexchange.org/2016-conference/schedule.htm

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Call for Papers: Asian Conference on Literature 2018

▪ Location: Art Center Kobe, Kobe, Japan
▪ Dates: Friday, March 30, 2018 to Sunday, April 01, 2018
▪ Conference Theme: “Conference Theme TBA”
▪ Initial Abstract Submission Deadline: November 10, 2017*
▪ Final Abstract Submission Deadline: January 11, 2018
▪ Registration Deadline for Presenters: February 09, 2018

 

Click here for more info:  https://librasia.iafor.org

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Transatlantic New York Conference

Explore, celebrate and debate the collective creative genius of Hispanic culture in the United States. Hispanic legends of film, literature, art, and music will be the subject of “Transatlantic New York”, a conference hosted by Instituto Cervantes, Brown University, and CUNY from May 24th to May 26th 2017 in New York City.

Discussions about the “Who’s Who” in Hispanic literature today will include panels on Junot Díaz, Daniel AlarcónGiannina Braschi, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Ricardo Piglia, and Carmen Boullosa

.Unknown-9.jpeg

The keynote address will be delivered on Thursday, May 24th by Ottmar Etee, entitled “Manhattan y las Islas dolorosas del Mar: De José Martí a las literaturas del mundo”. There will also be a lively dialogue with Norman Manea, featuring Robert Boyers and Dulce María Zuniga.

Unknown-8.jpeg

Highlights of scholarly panels on Friday, May 26th include two back-to-back sessions on the Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi. Emilie Bergman (UC Berkeley), Francisco Moreno-Fernandez (Harvard University), and Manuel Broncano (Texas A&M) will tackle the language in “Giannina Braschi: Transatlantic Spanish from the Golden Age to the Information Age”. The second panel focuses on “Giannina Braschi: Radical Thinking and the Body Politic” and features Laura Loustau (Chapman University), Ronald Mendoza-de Jesús (University of Southern California), Arnaldo Cruz (Forham University), and John Riofrio (William & Mary College).

braschi-giannina_credit-john-clifford_773x555.jpg

3598ab-4d31cd1d202b48a88d6a25b3f6fc286f_2.jpg

Contact:

Prof. Carlos Aguasaco
City College of New York

Center for Worker Education
25 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10004
212-925-6625 Ext. 224
​Email: caguasaco@ccny.cuny.edu

https://www.brown.edu/academics/hispanic-studies/julio-ortega

For complete program, click here:

http://www.nytransatlantico.com/index.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Great Women Writers: PEN WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL 2017

Join these brilliant, internationally acclaimed writers from May 1-7.
For the first time in the history of the World Voices Festival, we will be featuring twice as many women as men in our Festival line-up. These authors, poets, translators, artists, and critics will join us from May 1-7 as we examine the relationship between gender, power, and more.

This week only, use the code WOMEN2017 for $5 tickets to the events featured below. We’ll see you there!

Pushing Past Glass Ceilings
MAY 3, 7PM
DIXON PLACE, 161A CHRYSTIE ST.
Women from disparate walks of life and ages share their experiences with breaking through cultural norms. With Valerie Graves, Rita Mae Brown, Giannina Braschi, and Theresa Rebeck. Moderated by Amy Siskind. Tickets »
Forbidden: Too Much in Love
MAY 3, 7:30PM
ROULETTE, 509 ATLANTIC AVE., BROOKLYN
Illicit love is the subject tackled by these internationally celebrated authors who have dared to cross religious, cultural, and gender taboos. With Dorit Rabinyan, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Shani Mootoo, and Pajtim Statovci. Moderated by Mira Jacob. Tickets »
Gender, Power, and Authoritarianism in the Dystopian Age
MAY 4, 6:30PM
NEW SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 66 WEST 12TH ST.
The power of the state to control our thoughts and sexuality has been the dominant concern of many women writers and is reflected in some of the best dystopian literature of the modern age. Marge Piercy, Alice Sola Kim, Namwali Serpell, and Jeff VanderMeer examine this critical topic. Tickets »
The Body Politic: Women’s Rights and Resistance
MAY 4, 8PM
NEW SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 66 WEST 12TH ST.
In the face of egregious assaults on women’s rights to control their own bodies and speech, Executive Director of PEN America Suzanne Nossel and President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards discuss ensuring that free expression and reproductive rights are protected for all. Tickets »
Art, Gender, and Social Justice
MAY 6, 6PM
COOPER UNION, ROSE AUDITORIUM, 41 COOPER SQ.
What roles do art and gender play in creating social justice locally and globally? What can we do to bring more marginalized women’s voices to the forefront where they can speak for themselves? With Jessica Greer Morris, and Giannina Braschi. Moderated by Ana Oliveira. Tickets »
Poetic Duels: Sheyr Jangi
MAY 6, 7:30PM
DIXON PLACE, 161A CHRYSTIE ST.
Poetic battles–called sheyr jangi in Afghanistan–have roots in the early medieval Asia. For this event, poets Majda Gama, Rami Karim, Aurora Masum-Javed, Sham-e-Ali Nayeem, and Purvi Shah will pay homage to this tradition. Tickets »
The M Word: Muslim-American Women on Power and Beauty
MAY 7, 3PM
APOLLO THEATER, 253 WEST 125TH ST.
A conversation on what it takes to defy obsolete notions of power and beauty and instead embrace multidimensional identities. Addressing beauty standards, cultural appropriation, faith, and feminism, with Mara Brock Akil, Rana Abdelhamid, Mona Haydar, and Penina Roth. Reserve »

From our partners:

Sojourners & Her Portmanteau
APRIL 22-JUNE 4
NEW YORK THEATRE WORKSHOP, 83 EAST 4TH ST, NEW YORK
In Sojourners, a young, pregnant Abasiama struggles with the responsibilities of her arranged marriage, and weighs her dreams and obligations as she attempts to move forward. Decades later, the full impact of her decisions erupt when her family is reunited in Her Portmanteau.

EXPLORE THE WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL
Get More News, Events, and Original Literature from PEN America ›

You are receiving this e-mail because you opted in at PEN.org or a PEN-sponsored event.

manage subscriptions | unsubscribe | contact us

Copyright © 2017 PEN America | 588 Broadway Suite 303, New York, NY 10012 USA

 

 

 

https://worldvoices.pen.org/?utm_source=Communications&utm_campaign=4bfe5ac440-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_04_14&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c67d07604c-4bfe5ac440-247453485&mc_cid=4bfe5ac440&mc_eid=357e913b1d

 

Leave a comment

Filed under transnational literature, Uncategorized, women writers conference

Transatlantic New York Conference May 2017 CFP

Contact: Carlos Aguasaco, Associate Professor, City College of City University of New York

Email: caguasaco@ccny.cuny.edu

Phone: 212-925-6625

 

We are pleased to invite the international Hispanism, and all interested scholars and researchers to submit paper proposals or panels (3 panelists) on any of the writers, journalists, artists, & filmmakers from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain that have lived in New York and whose work expresses or assumes such experience.

 

This conference seeks to recover, document and evaluate the interactive work of writers, artists, cultural agents, journalists, founders of Hispanism and the Caribbean in New York.

 

Topics: *

  • Writers (From Hostos and Martí to Lorca and Julia de Burgos, Nicanor Parra and Junot Díaz; including Giannina Braschi, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Sylvia Molloy, Ricardo Piglia, Óscar Hijuelos, Carmen Boullosa, Luis Rafael Sánchez, Daniel Alarcón, among others)
  • Founders of Hispanism
  • Artists and filmmakers
  • Translators
  • Journals and editors (Areito, Exilio, Escandalar, Románica, Mariel, and others)
  • Interactions of English and Spanish in literature

 

Submission of Proposals: Proposals should consist of a title and an abstract of 250-300 words, and a brief biography (100-150 words). Proposals must be sent through the conference website www.nytransatlantico.com

 

Papers may be in Spanish or English.

Submission deadline: March 15, 2017.

——–

Organizing Committee:

Juan Carlos Mercado (CCNY- CUNY)

Ignacio Olmos (Instituto Cervantes)

Ana Vázquez Barrado (Instituto Cervantes)

Carlos Aguasaco (CCNY- CUNY)

Julio Ortega (Brown University)16681503_10154106237426901_4352020829651651719_n.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

PEN Writers in the Age of Trump

The PEN World Voices Festival in NYC shifts its focus  to gender and power in the age of President Trump. The 2017 festival runs from May 1-7 and features 150 writers in a series of talks, readings and workshops related to social justice, sexuality and politics.

“Amid visa bans and an America First foreign policy, PEN World Voices is now an important antidote to an America at risk of only talking to itself, fanning baseless fears, and damaging relations with allies around the world,” Suzanne Nossel, PEN America’s director, said in a statement.

17PEN2-master315.jpg

The event “United Against Hate” features musicians Patti Smith and Ani DiFranco, as well as novelists including Colum McCann and Salman Rushdie.

Highlights include National Book Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Trevor Noah, of “The Daily Show.”

The “Literary Quest” features Laurie Anderson, Teju Cole, Giannina Braschi, Jennifer Egan and Rita Mae Brown.

The full lineup — which also includes appearances by Carrie Brownstein (“Portlandia”) and the cartoonist Roz Chast — and tickets are available at worldvoices.pen.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized