June 12-14, 2025


Call for Workshop Proposals

Deadline: September 30, 2024

Focusing on the theme of “Archiving America/American Archives,” next year’s 71st annual conference of the GAAS takes up Marianne Hirsch and Diana Taylor’s critical prompt about the prominence of “archives” and “archiving” as keywords of current academic research. “Why the archive now?”, the authors ask. How has the term become “so ubiquitous and so capacious – encompassing the collection, the inventory, the library, the museum, and even the corpus of our scholarly projects, or the references we use?” (“The Archive in Transit,” 2012). Hirsch and Taylor’s questions become particularly fruitful once we connect them with past and present conceptions of “America” as we (re)consider the roles archives have played in the emergence of the United States as a nation state and global power.

The conference sets out to explore the dialogic relationship between the constitution and recreation of memory, notions of belonging, and the representation of national myths, ideas, and values. In what ways are archives complicit in shaping and repressing cultural heritage? How do archives maintain or confront imperial legacies, the dispossession and relocation of Indigenous people, or the transatlantic slave trade? How can archival work and the archive as an institution be an activist’s tool for decolonial practices and part of liberatory work? P. Gabrielle Foreman et al. stress the need to engage “public and scholarly audiences in innovative and collaborative initiatives that bring the buried and scattered histories of early Black organizing to digital life” (The Center for Black Digital Research). These questions and initiatives are in no way complete. Rather, they should open up conversations about the role of archives in American Studies as well as our own engagements with the field.

Archives are often connected with cultural heritage sites and preservational institutions such as museums, institutionalized archives, libraries, and memorials. These institutions shape the meaning-making processes of national identity constructions and foster notions of belonging (e.g., the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the Gilder Lehrman Collection, the American Antiquarian Society). However, archives are not limited to such institutions. As Diana Taylor reminds us, “an archive is simultaneously an authorized place (the physical or digital site housing collections), a thing/object (or collection of things — the historical records and unique or representative objects marked for inclusion), and a practice (the logic of selection, organization, access, and preservation over time that deems certain objects ‘archivable’)” (“Save As… Knowledge and Transmission in the Age of Digital Technologies,” 2010). Taking shape, for instance, as oral histories or changing locations as objects that travel through restitutional efforts, archives thus have a mobile as well as a precarious aspect. Building on these ideas, we invite reflections on notions of shared and divided pasts, the status of cultural memory studies, the guiding policies and practices that seize the archive in the active silencing of voices, and the working through of the traumatic experiences that constitute the complex histories and futures of the United States.

We call for workshop proposals on topics such as:

  • Archives Abroad / Transnational Archives
  • Archives and Access
  • Archives and Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, Social Class
  • Archives and State Power / Archives and Empire
  • Archives as Infrastructure / Archival Infrastructures
  • Archiving and Popular Culture
  • Archiving History / History of Archives
  • Classificatory Logics and Orders
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Archives
  • Community Archives
  • Digitization / Digital Archives
  • Early American Archives
  • Ethics of Archiving / Archival Ethics
  • Funding Archives / Archives and Questions of Finance
  • Futures of the Archive
  • Hemispheric and Transatlantic Interventions on Colonial Archives
  • Indigenous Archives
  • Literature as an Archive / Archiving Literature
  • Material Culture
  • Museums and Libraries as Archiving Institutions
  • Politics of the Archive
  • Queer Archives
  • Records of Economic Affairs
  • Slavery Documents Collections
  • Social Media as Archiving Practice
  • Sociology of the Archive
  • Sonic Archives
  • Teaching Archives
  • Theories of the Archive
  • Visual Archives / Archives and Visual Culture

We invite submissions from all areas of American Studies (Literary and Cultural Studies, Political Science, Social Science, History, Didactics, etc.) and look forward to workshops that reflect the multiplicity of theories and approaches offered in the GAAS. Workshop submissions are encouraged to include interdisciplinary perspectives.

We encourage a variety of formats for the workshops, from the more traditional paper session with a Q&A to question-driven sessions, collective reading sessions focused on previously shared archival materials, and roundtable discussions with impulse statements. Proposals for two-hour panels need to include the name of one confirmed speaker. Panels should allow for up to three more speakers to apply after the proposal has been accepted by the GAAS Advisory Board. If the panel takes the form of a roundtable discussion, more speakers can be invited. Only one of the panel organizers can simultaneously be a presenter on the panel. Organizers and speakers must not serve in more than one panel during the conference. We encourage panel proposals by organizers from different home institutions.

Panels can only be organized by members of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA). Speakers also have to be members of the DGfA by the time of the conference. This rule does not apply to members of the EAAS and ASA.

Please send all panel proposals to executive_director@dgfa.de. The deadline is September 30, 2024.