Negotiated Territories: Rethinking America’s Borders
York St. John University, 23 June 2016

Recent debates over immigration in the United States, and elsewhere, have led to renewed interest in the meaning of borders, frontiers, regions, and the spaces and places in-between. The study of borderlands has become of crucial intellectual concern to scholars in the humanities as they seek to move beyond the rigid construct of the nation-state and understand the impact of globalisation. The 2016 Presidential election campaign has brought many of these issues to the forefront of public attention. At the same time, issues of race, gender and sexuality continue to dominate American political discourse, where the boundaries of power are continually being challenged, built on specific concerns that are often local and regional in origin, within specific historical and cultural contexts.

On 23 June 2016, York St. John University will host a one-day conference that will launch the university’s new MA in American Studies by exploring the programme’s core themes: regions and borders (broadly defined). It seeks to question the fixity of the national and regional borders that define the United States, exploring how these interact and intersect with personal and collective identities that are constructed and contested around race, gender, class, ethnicity and sexuality.

Through multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches, and within the framework of regions and borders, the conference will be structured around a number of sub-themes that interrogate the meaning of territories through local, regional, national and trans-national perspectives. The panels will move from personal territories to regional identities and from the national to the international. Individual papers will be discipline and inter-disciplinary in focus within specific panels, thus providing an overall multi-disciplinary perspective across the whole day. Papers will explore one or more of the following questions:
•         How have American identities been, and continue to be, shaped by gender and race?
•         How have U.S. regions and borders been embodied, imagined and represented in history, literature and film?
•         How do transnational approaches influence how we think about American borders and regions, and thus American exceptionalism?
An exploration of these questions will therefore enable discussion of a much broader issue: where the boundaries of ‘America’ lie in social, cultural and political terms. Given America’s global influence, it remains important to debate the meaning of ‘America’, and this conference will provide a perfect forum for such a debate to occur that is both rigorous and accessible in approach.
To register for this event, please visit:


9.00    Coffee and registration. De Grey Foyer
9.30    Welcome. DG017
9.45    Keynote Address. DG017
Rethinking the Boundaries of Anti-Slavery: Transatlantic Perspectives on American      Abolitionism
John Oldfield, Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation and Director of     the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull
11.00  Panel 1: Borders of Gender, Race and Religion. DG017

  • Major Taylor and the Making of a Trans-Imperial Colorline. Nathan Cardon (University of Birmingham)
  • Louis Farrakhan and the Resurrected Nation of Islam’s military unit for men. Dawn-Marie Gibson (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • Grace Jones – Cyborg Feminist? Transgressing [American] Borders in I’ll Never

Write My Memoirs (2015) and the work of Jean-Paul Goude. Janine Bradbury (York St. John University)
12.30  Lunch. De Grey Foyer
1.30    Panel 2: Imagined Borders: War, Identity and the Significance of Place. DG017

  • Missouri’s ‘Mid-Western’: Border Identity in a Hybrid State. Wayne Johnson (York St. John University)
  • ‘Everybody is Centennializing:’ White Southerners and the International Exhibition of 1876. Jack Noe (University of Leeds)
  • ‘The road bare and white’: Hemingway, Europe and the artifice of ritualised place. Fraser Mann (York St. John University)

3.00    Coffee/Tea Break. De Grey Foyer
3.30    Panel 3 Looking beyond America’s Borders. DG017

  • Transimperial Histories of the United States in the World: The American Diaspora and British Imperial Borderlands in Southern Africa, c.1880-1910. Steve Tuffnell (University of Oxford)
  • ’Shakin’ All Over’: The Rise of British Rock. Simon Philo (University of Derby)
  • Crossing Power Borders in a Tight Leather Suit: Loci of Power in A troche y moche by Gustavo Sainz. Victoria Carpenter (York St. John University)

5.00    Close