- Editor’s Note
M. Bianet Castellanos proposed a forum on settler colonialism in Latin America a couple of years ago, and we are particularly delighted that her brilliant suggestion came to fruition following the forum in memory of Patrick Wolfe published in the June 2017 issue. As Castellanos points out, despite the increasing currency of settler colonialism as a theoretical framework and the contributions of both American Indian studies and Latin American studies in advancing Indigenous studies, dialogues between the two fields have been hampered by historical, conceptual, and practical factors. The forum calls our attention to both the utility and the limits of the settler colonial framework in the Latin American context as well as to the issues of land/labor, settler/native, Latinx/Latin American binaries in theorizing coloniality. We are excited by the provocative questions raised by the forum and the theoretical and empirical materials that each contributor brings to American studies at large.
Three essays in this issue deal with a range of topics on narratives and representations. Patrick Jones and Gretchen Soderlund analyze the television dramas House of Cards and Scandal to argue that conspiracy has become the very substance of politics in contemporary United States, as exposure and scandal generation have become a set of tools and strategies that the political world uses to communicate with an amorphous public. Examining how the conspiratorial mode changes one’s understanding of political change, the authors raise disturbing questions about the current political climate. Cynthia Franklin’s analysis of Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun, which chronicles the life of a Muslim family caught in the convergence of forces in Hurricane Katrina, forcefully illustrates the violence of the hegemonic conventions of “narrative humanity.” Her study thus points to the need for alternative narratives about becoming human, those that do not depend on upward mobility, national belonging, and masculine individualism. Scott Selberg uses the case of the country and pop star Glen Campbell to examine the role of media and celebrity in shaping popular knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Selberg points out that public investments in the recuperative power of celebrity and media for compromised selfhood serve as a corollary to normative models of aging and the media.
Three book reviews cover diverse scholarship on various historical periods and themes. Ittai Orr reviews five books on race in early America and the Revolution. Elizabeth Alice Clement discusses six books that examine AIDS [End Page v] from a range of perspectives and methodologies. Diane C. Fujino reviews four biographical works on freedom fighters. The two Event Reviews both discuss recent exhibitions dealing with social change held on opposite sides of the continent. Christina Ayson reviews the exhibit on Asian American movements from 1968 to the 1980s held at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. Jonathan Macagba discusses “Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change” at the International Center of Photography Museum in New York. [End Page vi]