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Special Issue Introduction

Vol. 3 No. 1 (2021): Im/Mobilities in American Culture

American Studies as Im/Mobility Studies: Introduction

Submitted
December 15, 2022
Published
2021-12-29

Abstract

The introduction to the JAAAS special issue American Studies as Im/Mobility Studies maps the field of mobility studies in the context of American studies, framing the various contributions to the issue. By summarizing dominant mobility narratives in US culture (e.g. in the mythology of the Western frontier), Ganser, Lippert, Oberzaucher, and Schörgenhuber demonstrate how deeply ingrained the idea of freedom of mobility is in the American cultural imaginary. In the vein of critical mobility research across the humanities, the introduction critiques these dominant scripts of American mobility in light of recent movements like MeToo or Black Lives Matter, which implicitly highlight that the mythology of the “freedom of mobility” has been deeply gendered and racialized. Along with former President Trump’s securitization attempts at the US-Mexican border, these developments demonstrate, so the authors, how the immobilization of various groups of people runs equally deep US history but also complicates the equation of mobility with progress. In the second part, the article introduces the individual contributions to the special issue and demonstrates how they add to ongoing discussions around US im/mobilities.

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