- Editor's Note
Empire, war, and colonialism; race, gender, and class; discourse, performance, and subjectivity: these are the issues that the four essays featured here examine through diverse approaches and foci.
Karen Miller's essay expands our understanding of racialized and gendered machinations of colonial power by focusing on the unusual figure of James Fugate—a soldier, colonial administrator, and missionary in the Philippines from 1900 to 1938—and demonstrating the working of what she calls "colonial bureaucratic masculinity." Jonna Perrillo studies the children of Operation Paperclip, a military program that brought scientists and technicians from the Third Reich to build US missiles, to analyze how romanticized narratives of the western frontier served to socialize "enemy" children in American Cold War values while aligning the children with Anglo America. Through the notion of "plastic empowerment," Carolyn Hardin and Armond Towns critique the racialized discourse of financial literacy and the notion of economic rationality, positing that the use of prepaid debit cards embodies a uniquely black economic life in the context of capitalism and blackness. Finally, Chris Eng examines David Byrne's musical Here Lies Love and the allure of the Imeldific—a fixation on the body, language, and style of Imelda Marcos that stands in for the attention to the politics of the Marcoses' regime—to contemplate the troubling operations of the fetish and irony in the imaginations of utopian futures.
The forum, "Protesting, Refusing, and Rethinking Borders: A Transnational Perspective," convened by Sunaina Maira, showcase six essays by scholars and activists engaged in a transnational discussion about border violence and border protests in different locations of the globe. As this issue goes to print, the Trump administration is escalating the inhumane conditions on the southern border with the detention of migrants in concentration camps, separation of families, and deportation of individuals to highly dangerous areas. By taking an explicitly transnational approach and addressing different forms of border in North America, South Asia, Palestine/Israel, Europe/Mediterranean Sea, and North/South Korea, this forum reminds American studies scholars that borders, by definition, are a global and transregional issue. The incisive and inspiring essays in the forum make critical interventions that bridge the fields of American studies, ethnic studies, and ethnic studies as well as critical border studies and grassroots activism.
In the Event Review, Wendy Cheng and Juan De Lara discuss Desert X, a contemporary art exhibition in the California desert, to critique its failure to [End Page v] challenge the logics of white supremacy, racism, and capitalism. Rebecca A. Adelman reviews Alejandro González Iñárritu's Carne y Arena, an immersive simulation in which visitors experience a violent encounter between a small group of migrants and the US Border Patrol in a desert landscape, and discuss the vexed form of empathy generated by this particular mode of immersion and immiseration. Madeline Williams discusses Touch This Page!, an exhibit in the Boston area and its companion symposium that reflected on our assumptions about and the materiality, sensations, and technology of reading and addressed the ongoing exclusion of disabled people from archives, museums, and libraries.
We have three book reviews: Keith Feldman discusses five recent books on anti-Muslim racism, Axel González reviews four works from the fast-growing field of racial capitalism, and three works on Christian missions in diverse contexts are discussed by Hillary Kaell. [End Page vi]