- Editor's Note
Each piece in this issue of American Quarterly has disparate origins and routes. Although we were keenly aware of the importance of each essay from the beginning, as we move into the production phase just a week after Donald Trump's inauguration, every essay has become far more relevant to the world we live in than we had imagined at the outset.
Robert Warrior's presidential address delivered at the ASA annual meeting in Denver in November 2016 probes the meaning of the conference theme, "Home / Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are," by tracing how American studies as a field and the ASA as a scholarly organization have created a home and community for many scholars and activists who often work on the margins and edges of institutions, disciplines, and society. Rather than merely celebrate the inclusivity and diversity of the ASA as a "home," Warrior urges us to take to heart the "where we are" part of the conference theme and to look deeply into what he calls "personhood of places," and to pay particular attention to the historical and ongoing Indigenous dispossession and white supremacy that has been a structural part of settler home-making. Interweaving his own family history and the history of American studies and Native and Indigenous studies, he challenges us to further expand our vision of personhood to include the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate, in how we think about our future. In response, Dylan Rodríguez calls for martialing of collective, protective measures to create "home" in times of emergency and the "weaponization of words, thought, songs, shouts, and movements by ourselves, with everyone around, that grasps the inherent violence of collective defense, protection, and power in the face of what surrounds." In her powerfully lucid language, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reminds us that "another world is truly possible, but only if we are willing to struggle for it," and inspires us to take seriously our role as academics in the struggle and to refuse the distortion and burial of the history of radical movements that offer the political tools and imaginations for the future generations.
This issue carries two forums. The first is a forum conceived in memory of Patrick Wolfe, who passed away suddenly in February 2016 soon after the publication of his Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race. Wolfe's thinking, pedagogy, and activism—and his way of being in the world—have influenced many, and his work on race and settler colonialism has been particularly meaningful for us scholars based in Hawai'i. The forum conveners, Cynthia Franklin, Njoroge Njoroge, and Suzanna Reiss, each of whom had a different [End Page vii] but close professional and personal relationship with Wolfe, compiled a series of essays by scholar-activists from diverse disciplinary locations that discuss the contributions of, as well as questions raised and work left by, Traces of History.
The forum "Mad Futures: Affect/Theory/Violence," convened by Tanja Aho, Liat Ben-Moshe, and Leon Hilton, draws attention to the emerging field of "critical mad studies" and its intersections with American studies and affect theory. These works examine psychiatric disabilities or differences not only in medical terms but also as historical formations that have led to various forms of ill-treatment and disfranchisement and highlight the importance of such approaches in the context of the interrelated processes of racialization and criminal-pathologization. The forum showcases a wide range of current work that makes innovative theoretical and methodological interventions within and across disciplines and fields.
The two essays both deal with the history of immigration, exclusion, and deportation, and the authors' findings and arguments have profound portent for the present moment. Hidetaka Hirota's essay, "Exclusion on the Ground," examines the significance of inspectors' discretion in the quotidian enforcement of immigration law against the Japanese in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the twentieth century, which set a precedent for the racialized use of general law against non-European immigrants in later periods. Hannah Gurman's essay, "A Collapsing Division," traces the expansion of US–Mexico border enforcement into the territorial enforcement over the past century to argue that the...