What Is No Longer and What Is Not Yet: American Reconstructions After the Crisis
Among its numerous interpretations, the concept of crisis indicates a phase of transition between what has been and what will be, a transnational and transhistorical condition that occurs between the end of one cycle and the ineluctable start of another. This idea of ”in-betweenness” has always characterized American civilization, which has found the motivation to react and move forward during successive stages of turmoil and decadence. The idea of crisis, thus, merges with that of reconstruction, since even some among the most dark and tragic moments in American history—from the Revolution against Great Britain and the conquest of independence, to the Civil War, through the two World Wars and 9/11, and up to the most recent internal (the attack on Capitol Hill) and external (the role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine) tensions—have been followed by phases of rebirth, both material and spiritual. But in addition to its historical and philosophical matrix, the crisis-reconstruction nexus is also a metaphor for a more extended process of meaning production and interpretation in which authors and readers are both involved: the former in re-constructing a priori reality in their works; the latter in re-constructing a posteriori events and characters described.
The panel welcomes papers from all academic disciplines that address the various artistic and cultural representations of a process that oscillates between an ideological recovery of the past as the basis of its critical interpretation and the cultural re-actualization of history as the foundation of new national, ethnic, and gender paradigms.
Coordinators: Enrico Botta, University of Verona (email@example.com), and Nicola Paladin, University “D’Annunzio” at Chieti-Pescara (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Plantation Americas, Past and Present: Cultures, Histories, and Politics of the Plantation.
In a recent essay Jesse McCarthy holds up for critical analysis the idea that, for some black intellectuals, “[t]he plantation is everywhere and all the time.” It is a stark formulation that forces the reader to consider the reach, spatial and temporal, of that historical form for exploiting labor and resources, bodies and soil. While Charles Wagley’s seminal coining of the concept of “Plantation America” meant to construct a geographical and cultural area that could be considered as roughly delimited in space and time, scholarship, activism, and an endless rush of actual events and processes since then have shown that those limits need further exploration, as does the concept itself. As our choice of the plural suggests, the plantation spans different Americas, pointing out interdependencies within political, historical, geographical and cultural studies of different regions and times that emerge from the centrality of the plantation.
From the perspective of literary studies, it is clear that the plantation still looms large in the contemporary imagination, while the full range of its literary and cultural manifestations remains insufficiently investigated. To approach the literature of the Americas as literatures of the plantation disturbs monolingual presuppositions and geographical frameworks; it questions the available archive and the power of literary forms and genres to explore the plantation world. We welcome papers that approach these literatures from different perspectives, hoping to sustain a dialogue that expands our grasp on that body of writing.
The study of the vast ramifications of plantations in the Americas extends beyond literary studies across a range of disciplines including sociology, history, linguistics, anthropology, musicology, and economy. Here, too, a multiplicity of methodologies and theories may fruitfully be brought into a larger conversation about the limits or limitlessness of the plantation in the Americas, and we welcome papers that contribute to that conversation.
Within the larger conference theme of continuities and discontinuities, our focus on the plantation highlights its material and symbolic afterlives. The Black Lives Matter Movement has led to a renewed interest in the plantation as the foundation for systemic racism in the US, tracing the trajectory from the institution of slavery, to Jim Crow, to redlining, racial bias, and the multiple forms of oppression that limit opportunities for Black communities. The Supreme Court reversal of Roe vs Wade reminds us that the various plantation forms depended on the control of reproduction, and that present disparities in Black women’s maternal health need to be placed alongside the disparities of Black incarceration and police brutality as the continuation of fundamental unfreedoms established in the plantation world.
Current presenters in panel: Sally Anderson Boström (independent scholar), ”Cracks in the Rainbow: Hawaii’s Plantation Legacy”; Bo G. Ekelund (Stockholm University), “Intimacy and Distance as a Formal Problem in Plantation Literature”; Helen Gibson (University of Erfurt), ”Spiritual Breath in Granny Midwifery”; Owen Horton (Indiana University) and Lee Flamand (Ruhr University Bochum), “Hollywood’s Plantation Preoccupation”