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By Robert C. Baldwin, James A. McPeek
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International American studies, in its commitment to interdisciplinarity, has the potential to situate these individual operators in broader and richer cultural, historical and political contexts. While international American studies can provide crucial grounds on which to contest American exceptionalism, this tenacious paradigm reemerges in Kadir’s address. Glossing Günter Grass’s eloquent critique, Kadir reenacts a kind of jeremiad, which chastises America for not living up to its own ideals.
Such an approach, which traverses imperial battlegrounds in the Philippines, Native America, and South Africa, would also include other international sites, such as the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904, which celebrated the Louisiana Purchase by bringing together colonized people from all over the world as spectacles for domestic consumption. These are the kinds of connections we could learn about from Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead Silko, 1991), where she writes powerfully about the movements of native peoples against colonial violence across the national boundaries of the Americas.
However, as Ickstadt has pointed out, ‘institutionally speaking American Studies in a strict sense has almost disappeared in the US’ (Ickstadt, 2002: 551). The fragmentation of whatever was once single, its movement into many parallel disciplines, has deprived it of much of its power and influence. Even its expansion into some areas of the transnational does not go beyond its geographical periphery—Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Large parts of the world, particularly what is called the third world still remain excluded in the new geographical space of American Studies.
An Introduction to Philosophy through Literature by Robert C. Baldwin, James A. McPeek