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Response to the Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, Hartford, Connecticut, October 17, 2003

From: American Quarterly
Volume 56, Number 1, March 2004
pp. 19-24 | 10.1353/aq.2004.0004


This response applauds Kaplan's address for establishing a new internationalist agenda for the American Studies Association, though it suggests that those living outside the United States tend to understand American imperialism less as a consequence of political choice than of wider developments within the world system. Consequently, it suggests how attempts to internationalize American Studies on the part of the ASA lie in uneasy parallel to attempts by U.S. government agencies to disseminate American values abroad. This response suggests instead the possibility of an internationalist approach based not upon a politics of representation but upon a theoretical analysis of difference, where the intellectual recognition of various forms of friction across different cultures might open up illuminating points of cross-cultural contact. It also suggests how conventional structural oppositions between the national and the international have been superseded by the repositioning of American Studies within a global framework.

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