BAA Conference 2016


Thursday, 30 June - Saturday, 2 July 2016


In the ongoing debate about transnational history that gained momentum in the 1990s, hemispheric approaches have either been discussed as one way to transnationalize the study of U.S. history or as frames for exercises in comparative history.


As different as these hemispheric approaches are, they all see U.S. history as sharing certain historical experiences with all other American states (European colonialism, immigration, etc.), and they feature the United States as one historical actor in the Americas among many. Some of them embrace transnational concepts of entanglement and hybridity; others pursue the more traditional project of comparative studies to understand why the states, peoples, economies and cultures in the Western hemisphere developed differently despite shared spatial characteristics and historical contexts. Thus, hemispheric approaches aim to compare political, social, economic and cultural phenomena of the Americas in terms of similarities and differences, as well as convergences and divergences, to reach a deeper and fuller understanding of the specificities of the United States not only in contrast to Europe but also in contrast to other American nation-states.

While historians have discussed hemispheric approaches either as one among several competing ways to transnationalize the study of U.S. history or as a frame for comparative history, literary and cultural critics in the field of American Studies have reached out to colleagues in Latin American Studies, Asian American Studies, African Diaspora Studies, and comparative literature to reframe disciplinary boundaries within the broad area of what is generally called American Studies. Since the 1990s, the debate has become increasingly differentiated and also fragmented. After more than a decade of intense hemispheric scholarship in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts, this conference aims to bring historians into a closer dialogue with the other disciplines involved in hemispheric American Studies.

Two categories - knowledge formation and cultural transfer - will serve as useful discursive frameworks to introduce a common analytical focus for the discussions among and between the disciplines.


We will use Stephen Greenblatt’s concept of cultural mobility as a starting point, examining the causes and consequences of concrete physical movements of peoples, objects, images, texts, and ideas as well as the contact zones where cultural goods are exchanged. Moreover, we encourage the use of mobility studies to reveal new aspects of the tension between individual agency and structural constraint, and, ultimately, to analyze sensations of rootedness and stasis in the experience of mobility.

Against this backdrop of the long, multifaceted debate about hemispheric approaches to U.S. history and American Studies, our conference in Munich will bring together American and European scholars from various diciplines involved in hemispheric American Studies to identify transdisciplinary commonalities and disciplinary differences, and to set a course for future scholarship.

No conference fee - please register for participation.


Detailed Conference Program (304KB)


Conference Program

Thursday, 30 June 2016

14.30 Registration


15.00 Panel I: The Intellectual Construction of the Americas  


Chair: Volker Depkat, University of Regensburg

  • Susanne Lachenicht, University of Bayreuth: How the Americas Became "the Americas"
  • Markus Heide, Uppsala University/University of Erfurt: The "Hemispheric Frame" and Travel Writing of the Early United States


18.00 Welcome and Opening


  • Welcome Addresses
    • Barbara Hahn, Bavarian American Academy
    • Anthony Miranda, U.S. Consulate General Munich
    • Christoph Parchmann, Bavarian State Ministry of Education, Science and the Arts
  • Award Ceremony: Best Dissertation and Honorary Member of the BAA
  • Keynote Address: Caroline Levander, Rice University
    Revisiting Hemispheric and Transnational American Studies in a Warming World


Friday, 1 July 2016

9.00 Panel II: Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas
Chair: Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, German Historical Institute Washington DC

  • Christian Pinnen, Mississippi College
    Cultural Transfer of Racial and Legal Traditions: Natchez Mississippi During the Age of Revolution
  • Ursula Prutsch, University of Munich
    Slave Emancipation in Brazil and the Role of the USA in the Abolition Process 


10.30 Coffee Break
11.00 Panel III: The Political Conundrum of the Americas: Multiple Political Cultures and the Diversity of Political Regimes
Chair: Jürgen Gebhardt, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

  • Alan Russell Siaroff, University of Lethbridge
    The Political Systems of the Americas, 2000 to 2016
  • Rainer Schmidt, University of Dresden
    Latin American Constitutions: Poisoned Presents or Façades for Dictators?


12.30 Lunch Break


14.30 Panel VI: Settlement Studies and Border Thinking in the Americas
Chair: Heike Paul, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

  • Anna Brickhouse, University of Virginia  // Unfortunately Anna Brickhouse cannot attend the conference but her paper will be presented and discussed by Caroline Levander
    Mistranslation and Beyond
  • Barbara Buchenau, University of Duisburg-Essen
    Colonies of the Mind or the Arts of Typological Thinking


16.00 Coffee Break
16.30 Panel V: "The Pan-American Literary Imagination is Up for Debate": Contest and Convergency in Hemispheric Literary Relations
Chair: Kerstin Schmidt, University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt

  • Stephen M. Park, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley
    NAFTA and the Literary Imagination
  • Jobst Welge, Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt
    The Boundaries of Reason: The Legacy of E. A. Poe in Latin America


Saturday, 2 July 2016

10.00 Panel VI: African Heritage in Latin America: Contemporary Rural and Urban Live-Worlds of Afro-Colombian and Afro-Brazilian Identities
Chair: Barbara Hahn, University of Wuerzburg

  • Eberhard Rothfuß, University of Bayreuth
    Collectivism in the Afro-Brazilian Favela: Locality, Self-Organisation and the Fight for Recognition
  • Ángela María Franco Calderón, University of Valle
    Collectivism on the Colombian Pacific Coast: Property Rights, Urban Patterns and Traditional Housing


12.00 End of Conference
The 16th academy conference is jointly organized by the Bavarian American Academy (BAA) and the German Historical Institute Washington DC (GHI)

















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