Research Projects

Research interests                                                                                                       

study of U.S. Imperialism, (trans)Pacific Studies, Native American Studies, Law and Literature, Postcolonial Studies, Space and Place, Food Literature

Postdoctoral Project

Conceptions of Planetarity and the (Extra)-Terrestrial in Representations of Space Exploration and Colonization in North American Literature and Culture

This project aims to explore how the imaginaries of the colonization of alien planets (especially, but not exclusively Mars) in literature, visual media, scientific data, popular culture, and the law, also serves as a commentary on the current climate crisis on Earth, as well as on how this crisis propels and challenges conceptions of globalization and planetarity. Based on recent scholarly debates on ecocritical frameworks of the anthropocene, planetarity (Heise), and the extraterrestrial (Latour), my project analyzes how the alleged inevitability and salvational character of a near-future of space colonization obscures the extent and the dystopian realities of our current climate crisis, as well as belies the actual state of technology to tackle either the crisis on Earth or to make a home for humanity on another planet.

Dissertation Project

The Territorialities of U.S. Imperialisms: Conflicting Discourses of Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territory in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Legal Texts and Indigenous Life Writing

My dissertation project is concerned with the negotiation of indigenous land rights in North America and the Pacific during U.S. continental expansion in the 19th century as well as during Hawaiian annexation in 1898. In both cases, my project focuses on strategies to legitimize the incorporation of indigenous territories into U.S. national territory and consolidate national identity and nationals borders, and indigenous strategies to affirm indigenous sovereignty and legitimacy. As part of this focus, my project reads U.S.-American legal texts as well as Life Writing texts by Native Americans and Native Hawaiians together and analyzes them for their respective strategies to (de)construct utterances of legitimacy and sovereignty. Based on the work of Amy Kaplan, Mark Rifkin, and John Carlos Rowe, my project is in intervention in current discussions in Native American studies, the study of U.S. imperialism, (trans)Pacific Studies, law and literature, Transnational American Studies, and Native Hawaiian studies.

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Other Research Projects

Contours of the U.S. Nation State (WT)

This project is situated in the context of contemporary critical discussions on the nation-state, transnationalism, and globalization, but insists on a longer historical perspective and places its focus specifically on the United States. Building on the work of scholars such as Amy Kaplan, John Carlos Rowe, and Mark Rifkin, we examine how the historical specificities of U.S. nationhood—a long period of continental expansion, the foundational conception of the “frontier” and the constant and ongoing Native American challenge to U.S. sovereignty from “within” its perceived borders, and a history of “fuzzy” outer boundaries due to the strategies of American imperialism(s)—are instrumental in explaining the current contours of the U.S. nation-state in a globalized world.

Jens Temmen and Nicole Waller


Connections between Atlantic Studies and (Trans)Pacific Studies (WT)

This research project was initiated by a joint workshop on “(Trans)Pacific Knowledge Landscapes” at the 62nd Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA) in Bonn, Germany (May 28-31, 2015). Standing on the shoulders of critics such as Yunte Huang, Rob Wilson, and Arif Dirlik, and rejecting the imperial notion of the Pacific as “America’s Lake,” this workshop inquired how the notion of a transpacific epistemology re-negotiates, contests, or contributes to North American knowledge landscapes and complicates the monodirectional trajectory of imperial knowledge progression by foregrounding local, indigenous, Oceanic/Pacific, Asian (American), ecocritical, transnational, and/or transpacific knowledges. Building on this workshop, our project is currently exploring connections and reciprocities between Atlantic studies and a transpacific approach to Pacific studies in a forthcoming special issue of Atlantic Studies: Global Currents by the title of “Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic Studies and (Trans)Pacific Studies.” This special issue will discuss the potential discursive, topical, and historical overlaps of the two fields to carve out mutual concerns and theoretical affinities, but also divergent approaches and differences. It aims to examine how both Atlantic and Pacific Studies are part of global currents, overlapping in topics, approaches, discourses, and goals, without glossing over fundamental differences that characterize the individual fields.

Jens Temmen and Nicole Poppenhagen (Flensburg)

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