Americans Overseas: The United States in the World since 1865

Americans emigrated for a variety of reasons. US traders and entrepreneurs, professional men and women, members of the armed and diplomatic services, journalists and authors,exiles, expatriates and wanderers overseas all formed significant populations of their own. More than that, the coalescence of these diverse individuals into offshore American communities reveals the diverse array of transnational American spaces overseas including military and naval bases; consulates and embassies; expatriate social clubs; and university campuses and educational institutions. In the process of travelling and residing overseas these individuals constructed complex webs of communication, financial inter-connection, and cultural transmission that connected the United States to the world, and the world to the United States. They forged new identities, or developed new inflections to familiar identities, be they regional, or national, racial or gendered. In short, these “neo-USA’s” had an impact on their adopted home and the nation they left out of all proportion to their numbers. 

This workshop aims to demonstrate how strongly American communities overseas were woven into the fabric of the United States’ global interactions between 1865 and the present day. Taking place over one and a half days, panels will be composed of papers of 20 minutes each. It will seek scholarship that examines American communities in a number of geographical and geo-political contexts and which spotlight the diverse cast of American citizens who inhabited offshore America. These communities present opportunities to address such themes as the relationship between American migration and the expansion of US commerce, to the spread of American empire, and to conceptions of “Americanisation” across the globe. It will also interrogate the processes through which American communities overseas were integrated into their host societies and how that reception was understood. Finally, it will examine offshore American communities as foci of global interconnection and as barometers of the changing relationship between the United States and the world as it navigated both globalisation and its own transformation.

Keynote address: Brooke Blower (Boston University).

Professor Blower is the author of Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars (2010) and co-editor of The Familiar Made Strange: American Icons and Artifacts after the Transnational Turn (2015).

Panels:

Kristin Hoganson (Harmsworth Professor), Nan Enstad (Wisconsin), Elizabeth Esch (Kansas), Gretchen Heefner (North Eastern), David Greenstein (Tennessee), Stephen Tuffnell (St Peter’s), Katharina Rietzler (Sussex).

The conference programme can be downloaded here.

A bibliography on Americans abroad is available here.

For any enquiries, please contact stephen.tuffnell@history.ox.ac.uk

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