Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vi-vii

Ours is a collaborative effort that has been sustained at every turn by Sian Hunter, our editor at the University of North Carolina Press. Early on she lent her support and insight to this project in ways that have made a real difference. This volume emerged from intercampus conversations between the University of California at Santa Cruz and the University of Wiscon-...

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Introduction: The Study of the American Problems

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pp. 1-16

What is the object of American studies? This opening salvo really asks two questions. What does “American studies” study, and what does it want? Some would say that the question is the problem. “Must self-identification as an Americanist put one under the obligation to be an upholder or subverter of American institutions?”1 Why should

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Rogue States and Emergent Disciplines

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pp. 17-35

The relationship between the state and the discipline is always at issue for the interdisciplinary venture of American studies, from past inception to current obsession. Is the venture an ontology of the nation, an instrument in the tool kit of the state, or a paradigm for the liberation of citizen-subjects from the state’s clutches? A responsible...

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Migrant Archives: New Routes in and out of American Studies

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pp. 36-54

The history of the modern archive is inextricable from the establishment of nation-states. In various parts of the world, including France in 1790 and numerous countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the establishment of a “national archive” followed a revolutionary break from monarchy or colonialism. Archive and...

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Toxicity and the Consuming Subject

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pp. 55-68

In October 2006, National Geographic Magazine featured an article and photographic spread entitled “Pollution Within.” Reporter David Ewing Duncan had himself tested for 320 toxic chemicals and found that 165 of them lurked within his body, including PCBs, DDT, dioxin, mercury, and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl...

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Past Burning: The (Post-)Traumatic Memories of (Post-)Queer Theory

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pp. 69-87

Queer theory burns me up. Among the incendiary elements in much contemporary queer theory, we might focus on three: first, its increasing neglect of AIDS—not only the past and continuing devastation of sexual culture in the United States but also the role that AIDS, AIDS activism...

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Paranoid Empire: Specters from Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib

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pp. 88-115

The question is still open: what is the purpose of Guantánamo Bay? Is it a prison for “terrorists”? Is it an interrogation camp for suspects? Or is it perhaps something altogether more harrowing? By now it has been established that most of the men and, yes, the teenagers imprisoned, and many of them...

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Taking the Measure of the Black Atlantic

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pp. 116-123

The continuing prominence of “Black Atlantic” as a key term in the lexicon of black literary and cultural studies and beyond derives largely from the success of Paul Gilroy’s 1993 book, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness in which Gilroy set out to break what he saw as the virtual stranglehold of a United States–centered....

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Cicero’s Ghost: The Atlantic, the Enemy, and the Laws of War

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pp. 124-142

Against “an unjust enemy,” Immanuel Kant asserts in a startling passage of The Metaphysics of Morals, “the rights of a state . . . are unlimited in quantity or degree.”1 The claim startles because in the immediately preceding passages of his text, in an extended section on “International Right,” Kant has been working to ameliorate his prior...

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World History according to Katrina

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pp. 143-160

How does Hurricane Katrina change our understanding of the United States, the lengths and widths of its history, as well as its place in the life of the planet? As a catastrophe that casts into doubt the efficacy and security of the nation, what alternatives does it suggest, what other forms of shelter does it point to, what ways does it organize...

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American Studies in an Age of Extinction

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pp. 161-182

With the help of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, this essay asks how we might think about the critical work of American studies in an age of extinction. Concerns that life on the planet may be coming to an end are pervasive, and arguably they define our present moment. Anxieties about nuclear annihilation were everywhere...

Contributors

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pp. 183-186

Index

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pp. 187-203