- Editor’s Note
For the first time in the history of the association, the ASA annual meeting, in November 2019, took place in Honolulu. For American Quarterly, it was fortuitous that the Honolulu meeting coincided with the midpoint of the Hawai‘i-based team’s ten-year tenure as the journal’s editorial home. In close collaboration with the program committee, ASA president Scott Kurashige conceived the meeting under the theme “Build as We Fight,” calling for resistance to the interlocked systems of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and neoliberal dispossession, and for the creation of alliances and communities from the ground up. The history of Hawaiian Renaissance and Indigenous resurgence, especially in the midst of the movement for protection of Mauna Kea, has offered humbling and inspiring lessons for ASA members and scholars, activists, and artists committed to Indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, queer love and care, and alliance building across boundaries. Through over five hundred panels, workshops, and tours, the groundbreaking conference realized Kurashige’s and the association’s vision and commitment that we hope to practice in the pages of the journal.
Kurashige’s presidential address published in this issue, “‘Unruly Subjects’: American Studies from Antidiscipline to Revolutionary Praxis,” traces the emergence of the ASA as home for those from outside the institutional history of the field, points to the crisis of liberal capitalism and ruptures it has created, and illustrates examples of scholar–activist work seeking to build the revolution toward a new social order, such as the work of Detroit-based Grace Lee Boggs. We have asked two such scholar–activists to respond to Kurashige’s address. Taking up Kurashige’s alternative genealogy of American Studies, Curtis Marez reflects on the recent history of Chicana/o studies and American studies. He discusses its significance for contemporary border fascism and the hope offered by student activism against deportation as an act of “building as we fight.” Noura Erakat takes Kurashige’s message and the inspiration of the Hawaiian liberation movement on and off Mauna Kea to Palestine, where conditions of surveillance, militarism, exclusion, and national supremacy portend an uncertain future that also overflow with promises of life and resurgence, partly through transnational solidarity, which she examines in an essay also included in this journal.
This issue features six essays that coalesce and speak well with one another around a few themes: species, environment, and settler colonialism; racialization and othering in nation and empire building; race, solidarity, and anti-imperialism. [End Page v]
In his ambitious and fascinating “Grizzly Country: Settler Worlding and the Politics of Species on the California Frontier,” Daniel Rivers traces the history of Native people and grizzlies that coexisted for fourteen thousand years until the genocide and eradication by settler colonial violence. Through interdisciplinary analysis of this history, Rivers examines how the slippages between the human and nonhuman in settler projects formed the underside of the violent remaking of California. In “The Bison and the Cow: Food, Empire, Extinction,” John Levi Barnard turns our attention to the interrelated symbolic and material values of two species within American exceptionalist historiography and neoliberal environmentalism. By demonstrating that the bison has symbolized the tragic but inevitable “vanishing” of Indigenous societies and ecosystems, whereas the cow has figured as a veneer of “sustainability” in the globalized economy, Barnard points to the dangers of conservation without decolonization.
Jacob Crane tracks the long history of varied deployments of Article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, which declares that “the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” and argues that the article’s lasting influence lies in how Christian nationalists and emergent secularists alike used the text to articulate a national character in opposition to the perceived otherness of the Muslim world. Focusing on the life of Stephen Glori, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s first Filipino student who later joined an Indian show and identified as a Pueblo, Alyssa A. Hunziker situates the school in US colonial projects both at home and abroad, and also argues that schools like Carlisle inadvertently fostered alternative transnational kinship networks among Filipino and Native students.
Through a reading of Mike Gold...