MELUS Conference in Las Vegas

Conference Theme: “TransCulture”

May 3-6, 2018


Hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Tuscany Suites & Casino, 255 E. Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89169


Las Vegas is a transcultural city, rich in racial and ethnic diversity, and UNLV has recently been ranked as one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation. As one of the last major US metropolitan areas built from the ground up in the twentieth-century, Las Vegas is also a transformative and transient city in the American Southwest, where issues of mobility are constantly negotiated and identities are reimagined.

  • Transamerican and hemispheric collaborations and tensions in multi-ethnic textsUnknown-4.jpeg
  • Transcultural literary representations of popular culture and the entertainment industry
  • Transvestism, performativity, and spectacles of gender and sexuality
  • Transportation, transit, and mobility in the multi-ethnic West
  • Transatlantic routes, identities, and experiences in multi-ethnic literature, including economic and technological considerations
  • Transformations in the definitions, status, and criticism of multi-ethnic US literature, and in relation to indigenous and national literary traditions
  • Translation and multilingualism in multi-ethnic texts
  • Transversing, transgressing, and experimenting with forms and genres, including, but not limited to, film, graphic narratives, spoken word poetry, and multi-genre works

We welcome proposals on all aspects of multi-ethnic US literature. More information about housing and guest speakers will be available soon.

Contact For more information about MELUS, The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, visit; for more information about the MELUS journal, visit We hope to see you in Vegas in 2018!




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Global Matters, Transnational scholarship @ MIT Press





Global Matters by Paul Jay provides a concise, informative overview of theoretical, critical, and curricular issues driving the transnational turn in literary studies and how these issues have come to dominate contemporary global fiction as well. Through close, imaginative readings Jay analyzes the intersecting histories of colonialism, decolonization, and globalization engaged by an array of texts from Africa, Europe, South Asia, and the Americas, including Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke, and Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness.










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Transnational Literature, Vol 10 now available

It is always fascinating to receive the latest edition of this scholarly and creative journal, published in Australia.   Click here to read: Transnational Literature, Volume 10, Issue 1: Contents

Available under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Poetry editor: Alison Flett .

Prose creative writing editor: Dr Ruth Starke.


Transnational Literature, Volume 10, Issue 1: Contents

Contributors to November 2017 Issue
Peer Reviewed Articles
Mary Besemeres Evoking a Displaced Homeland: the ‘Poetic Memoir’ of Andrzej Chciuk
Anna Guttman Home, Factory, World: Domestic and Global Fictions in the work of Lavanya Sankaran
Bhawana Jain Intersecting Memory and Witnessing Violence in Anita Desai’s The Zigzag Way
Medea Muskhelishvili Pataphysical Discourse and Georgian Reflections in Comparative Analysis of Georgian and French Avant-Garde
Michael Potts Dumping Grounds: Donald Trump, Edward Abbey and the Immigrant and Pollution
Fredrik Tydal Of Surface and Depth: Agnes Smedley’s Sketches of Chinese Everyday Life
Rouhollah Zarei The Beloved in Nader Naderpour’s Poetry
Review Essays
Paul Sharrad Check your metaphors: Review Essay – Daria Tunca and Janet Wilson (eds), Postcolonial Gateways and Walls: Under Construction
Ron Singer Review Essay: Nzuri Na Mengi (‘Good and Plenty’): The Caine Prize for African Literature, 2007-2016
Launch Speech
Melinda Graefe Speech delivered at launch of Faithfully I Wait: Poems on Rain, Thunder and Lightning at Jhargram and Beyond by Jaydeep Sarangi, Flinders University, 20 October 2017

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CFP: Unincorporated Psychoanalysis Conference

Unincorporated Psychoanalysis
Das Unbehagen A Free Association for Psychoanalysis

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DAS UNBEHAGEN. A Free Association for Psychoanalysis
San Juan, Puerto Rico
February 17-18, 2018
Puerto Rico is considered an “unincorporated” territory, hence the signifier that inspired us. What does this word evoke? Unincorporated means:
• not chartered as a self-governing village or city; lacking the tax, police, and other powers conferred by the state on incorporated towns: an unincorporated hamlet,
• not chartered as a corporation; lacking the powers and immunities of a corporate enterprise, an unincorporated business,
• not combined into a single body or unit; not made part of; not included.
Freud introduces the word “incorporation” in Totem and taboo while developing the myth of the murder of the father and the ensuing cannibalistic meal. By killing and eating the father of the primal horde, the members of the tribe believe themselves able to appropriate his property and power. They internalize the prohibitions unconsciously and, feeling guilty, invent the basic rules of social bonds (prohibition of incest and murder). Civilization is born of the consequences of this foundational incorporation.
“Incorporation … is at the inaugural point of the emergence of the unconscious structure,” Lacan wrote later. The first thing the child incorporates is milk, appropriating its qualities and frustrations, giving the milk great emotional value. In fantasy, the infant unites with the object and the pleasure of having becomes confused with the pleasure of being. On the model of cannibalistic fantasies linked to orality, incorporation is the first mode of identification in the human being; it is both a setting up of structure, and a defense against loss and jouissance.
What would it mean for a subject or a territory to be “unincorporated”? Clinically, could we say that melancholy is a failure of incorporation since the object can never get lost, but what is lost is the ego? Are recalcitrant somatic manifestations, unincorporated corporeal territories, what Freud called symptoms that function like parasites? Is global capitalism itself a process of un-incorporation since subjects are reduced to commodities while being increasingly colonized at the level of the body? Are contemporary bodily symptoms the result of non-incorporation and is this a site of resistance? Are corporations that rule the markets the only form of community left, where we must imagine every aspect of identity as soldered to this process of professionalization? Are psychoanalytic institutions corporations or unincorporated territories?
In this two-day conference, gathering participants from North, Central, and South America in the unincorporated territory of Puerto-Rico, we will address these questions in a series of key-note talks and panels. We invite you to submit individual papers, 15 minutes long, or propose a panel around a topic suggestive of the above questions. The venue is the historic El Telégrafo in Santurce, Puerto Rico, 10 minutes from the city center of San Juan.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: María de los Ángeles Gómez, Fernando Castrillón, Alfredo Carrasquillo Ramirez, Marcus Coelen, Marc Strauss.
Special participation of visual artist Beatriz Muñoz Santiago.
Deadline for paper/panel submissions (300-500 words abstract and title)
October 15, 2017
Contact: Accommodations, Activities, Scholarships: Cécile McKenna Call for Papers: Kerry Moore


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Trump’s ‘Bad Hombres’: Central Americans, Racial Projects, and the North American imaginary

August 10, 2017
Latin American Studies Association 2018

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A Panel Proposal for LASA Congress XXXVI Barcelona, España, May 23-26, 2018

Since the 2016 campaign trail, Trump suggested that “bad hombres” were in our midst, people of ill-repute that required immediate deportation and that are threats to the American way of life. Underneath its racial dogwhistling, the “bad hombre” is part of the historical continuum of U.S. white settler culture, the phrase a linguistic remnant of both the political and racial history of the American Southwest as well as the projects of U.S. empire in Latin America. Some time and many tweets later, now in the start of his presidency, the Trump administration revealed Central Americans to be the focus of his anti-immigration stance, centering on Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a national boogeyman. What at first seemed to be an innocuous comment that furthered Trump’s political insipidness: “We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out” happened to instantly criminalize Latin Americans, and, as this panel contends, squarely on the racialized bodies of Central Americans. This quote, now reinforced and legitimized by the power of the oval office, has become a centerpiece to Trump’s assessment of national malaise. In specifying the identity of these “bad hombres” as Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans, the administration is suggesting that illegal immigrants are predisposed to violent crime, and their very presence indicates a threat to the American way of life. Thus, Trump’s assertions have had the effect of stigmatizing Central American communities through their discursive linking to the gang MS-13, an entity that today functions as America’s paradigmatic dangerous other. In doing so, Trump has leveraged anti-immigrant sentiment and utilized racial scapegoating to justify his immigration policies, pushing for militarization and further “tough on crime” initiatives that criminalize the Central American community and aggravate the precarious social realities of people in the isthmus.

While initially the “bad hombres” comment was mocked and ridiculed in social media and in newspapers as further evidence of Trump’s unfitness for the presidency, today we see its serious material consequences. This panel reflects on the ramifications of Trump’s political discourse on Central Americans as it pertains to processes of racial formation in the United States and in the region itself, the many connected to the dominant metaphor of the criminal gang as a terror, a monster, a wretch in the U.S.-Central American imaginary. From interdisciplinary perspectives, this panel thus has the goal of historicizing the use of the “bad hombre” to designate undesirables, offering an analysis of contemporary U.S. political culture to grasp the social use and political function of the violent other, interrogate the industries of border insecurity and immigrant detention that overwhelmingly affect Central American people, and the everyday challenges of being a Central American blemished by their place of provenance, in a context of heightened discrimination.  Moreover, we hope to draw closer attention to how the “Bad Hombre” reflects a new transnational racial project of which Central Americans are its core.


Arely M. Zimmerman, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, Mills College
Jorge E. Cuéllar, PhD Candidate, American Studies, Yale University

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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.”


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 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?


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

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


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