"Not just about Trump" - 19th International BAA Academy Conference

A festive ceremony honoring a great scholar of American Studies and two dissertation projects, a packed lecture by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, and many fruitful discussions and opinions in- and outdoors – that was the 19th International Academy Conference by our Bavarian American Academy in a nutshell. 

For this year’s conference, scholars and students from all over the world discussed what is widely recognized as a new “Atlantic Drift,” the notion that European-American relations have suffered severely since Donald Trump became President of the United States. Taking the complexity, multi-dimensionality, and ambivalence of European-American relations throughout the ages as points of departure, the conference sought to thematize the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of European-American relations from the seventeenth century to today, and reflect them in categories of cooperation and conflict, convergence and divergence. 


Keynote Lecture by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen

Diving straight into the topic, we were thrilled that Roger Cohen, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, agreed to open the conference with his keynote lecture “Transatlantic Relationships: The Bond that Went Freelance,” which our Bavarian American Academy organized in cooperation with the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism. While discussing his own background of being a British Jew who was raised in South Africa and who eventually became U.S. citizen, he strongly appealed to a firm transatlantic partnership and a strong Europe. Despite the Trump administration having gone AWOL in terms of international relations, Cohen suggested that we should not despair, but rather dedicate ourselves to ensuring that, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   


Renowned scholars from all over the world discussed the past, present, and future of transatlantic relations 

Taking the past, present, and future of transatlantic relations into account, the panels at the conference continued this discussion with topics that ranged from German-American brewers in the 19th century to transatlantic relations in the era of Industry 4.0.; from imperial and Atlantic history to representations of U.S. popular culture in European and Europe-related music, film, and magazines. As diverse as the issues covered were the origins of our speakers and students: participants from Munich to Melbourne, from Erlangen to Indiana, from Leipzig to Washington, D.C. engaged in fruitful conversations after the panels and also took their time to network during lunch and coffee breaks, and the big BBQ for members, alumni, and speakers of the BAA.


Numerous awards were presented in a festive ceremony

We were especially delighted that Prof. Donald E. Pease from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA, was present to receive honorary membership to the BAA based on his relentless commitment to transatlantic partnership and academic exchange. One honor followed the next, as Dr. Maren Roth (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) received the Spevack Award of the Lasky Center for Transatlantic Studies for her tireless efforts in administering the literary archive and library of the American publicist Melvin J. Lasky. Two very talented scholars were awarded with this year’s dissertation award. Dr. Judith Rauscher (University of Bamberg) was honored for her dissertation project on "Poetic Place-Making: Nature and Mobility in Contemporary American Poetry" and Liv Birte Buchmann (University of Regensburg) was recognized for her work on "Commemorating Abraham Lincoln the Transnational Way: Lincoln Monuments in Great Britain." 


Mary Nolan (New York University) closed the conference

Mary Nolan, renowned Professor at New York University for almost four decades, concluded the conference with a wrap-up of new and old perspectives on transatlantic relations. Transatlantic relations have had their ups and downs in the past, she assessed, so the new Atlantic Drift cannot entirely be blamed on Donald Trump. As the conference came to a close, the overall conclusion was that the two countries are bound together through strong ties and an enduring friendship that goes well beyond academic exchange. 

We would like to thank our chairs and panelists (in alphabetical order): David B. Audretsch (Indiana University Bloomington), Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne), Heather Conley (Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C.), Volker Depkat (University of Regensburg), Andreas Etges (University of Munich, LMU), Stefan Fröhlich (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), Jürgen Gebhardt (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), Axelle Germanaz (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), Frank Hadler (Leibniz Institute GWZO Leipzig), ), Mathias Häußler (University of Regensburg), Wim Klooster (Clark University), Susanne Lachenicht (University of Bayreuth), Erik E. Lehmann (University of Augsburg), Gale A. Mattox (U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis), Karl Morasch (Bundeswehr University Munich), Yannik Mück (University of Wuerzburg), Heike Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), Kerstin Schmidt (University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt), and Jana Weiß (University of Muenster). A special thank you to Roger Cohen and Mary Nolan (New York University), as well as our sponsors, the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism, Stiftung Melior, Lasky Center for Transatlantic Studies, and Hofbräu München. We hope to see you all next year at the 20th International BAA Academy Conference on the topic of Solidarity, from July 9 through July 10, 2020 at the Amerikahaus in Munich.



(Photo: BAA Konferenz 2019 © Amerikahaus München)