- Editor’s Note
This issue of American Quarterly goes into production in the wake of the 2016 election, and by the time this issue goes to print, Donald Trump will be serving as president of the United States. Even as American studies scholars have long dedicated ourselves to understanding white supremacy, patriarchy, racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and neoliberalism, the election results have been a tremendous shock. The values, policies, and behavior represented by Trump, his supporters, and those he is choosing as his staff are deeply in opposition to the fundamental principles of the ASA community. The election results challenge us to seriously reflect on what it means to do American studies and renew our commitments as scholars, teachers, and activists in this world. What the United States and the world are about to face under the Trump administration—many aspects of which will try to undermine the gains of decades of social activism, others of which will reinforce the injustices and inequalities structured into American society long before this election—all the more underscores the critical importance of rigorous intersectional analysis of American history and society and engaged pedagogy and activism.
It is, then, perhaps fitting that we open this issue with an essay on the question of entrance to the White House. Kate Masur examines African Americans’ demands for recognition at White House social functions and whites’ varied reactions during the Lincoln administration. Other essays in this issue also address race, biopower, and regulation of body and space in different political contexts. Juliet Nebolon focuses on public health programs in World War II Hawai‘i to analyze the interconnected regimes of US settler colonialism and militarization, illustrating how wartime racial liberalism compelled all people in Hawai‘i to cultivate health, which then led to the extraction of biomedical resources in the name of military security. John Bloom looks at mandatory bicycle regulation and bicycle stakeouts in Washington, DC, in 1963–2009 as a mechanism for policing of racial boundaries in public spaces, which fore-shadowed the racialized law and order policies practiced across the nation. Joseph Darda and Theresa Geller both analyze the cultural narratives about the state and war in film and television. Darda chronicles how the George H. W. Bush administration revised the cultural narrative of the Vietnam War by militarizing the humanitarian ethic of the antiwar movement in the Persian Gulf and how the militarization of humanitarian affect contained liberal anti-war [End Page v] discourse. Geller’s study of The X-Files uses Fredric Jameson’s methods to illustrate the show’s allegorization of the dialectical relationship between the governmental conspiracy and the effects of its unchecked power on marginalized communities.
This issue carries four book reviews on new scholarship in diverse topics. In her review of three books that reassess the analytic of intersectionality, Jennifer C. Nash problematizes the impulse toward a “correct” reading and historicization of intersectionality and calls for a sustained interrogation of the ways in which “black woman” haunts the unconscious of the fields. This review provides a useful context for Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s discussion of three works on black sexuality, erotic labor, and pornography. Patrick Wilz reviews four books on discourses of opposition in the twentieth century. John Worsencroft’s review examines four works on militarized state, community, and citizenship. In an event review, Kristin Moriah discusses the paradox of the seeming ascendance of ethnic diversity on the popular stage in her review of the 2016 Broadway musical Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. [End Page vi]