Across Currents Book Launch

by Jens Temmen

As part of this outreach project, Jens Temmen co-organized a book launch and lecture event together with Nicole Poppenhagen (University of Flensburg), and in cooperation with the publishing house Routledge. The event was designed to promote and launch the publication of an anthology titled Across Currents: Connections Between Atlantic and (Trans)Pacific Studies, which Nicole and Jens had co-edited. The book itself had been the result of three years of collaborative research, which also had translated in several joint conference papers, a research workshop which they co-organized, as well as a special issue for the journal Atlantic Studies: Global Currents which they also co-edited.

The research project and the anthology is based on our shared interest in the Pacific, and the assumption that a discussion of the common goals – but also crucial distinctions – between the well-established field of Atlantic studies and the, at the time we started this project, newly emerging transpacific approach might prove productive, but had not been undertaken in a systematic manner. The project focuses on how bringing together Atlantic and transpacific perspectives offers an avenue to contribute to an increasing body of work which aims at critically exploring the United States’ deep entanglements with the bodies of water surrounding it, and may therefore actually have the potential to critically engage and destabilize US (imperial and exceptionalist) narratives. The aim was to articulate such a critique thorough critique with the help of contributors, while also acknowledging that any approach to connecting the two fields must always stay true to the post-colonial and de-colonial core tenets of transpacific and Atlantic studies by seeking to foreground the Pacific and Atlantic regions, their peoples, cultures, geographies, and ecologies, as spaces and subjects of inquiry in their own right.

Apart from closely cooperating with the publisher Routledge on issues of marketing and cross-media promotion, our organizational efforts included applying for third-party funding to invite one of the contributors to the anthology as a guest speaker. The project successfully applied for funding with the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Potsdam, the Universitätsgesellschaft Potsdam e.V., and the Potsdam Graduate School. They were given the opportunity to embed their event into the program of the “Minor Cosmopolitan Weekend” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, on December 7th, 2018.

The event itself comprised of a book launch event and a guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Keith Camacho (University of California Los Angeles / UCLA). The book launch was designed as a milestone event that marked the publication of the anthology, the end of this particular phase of our collaborative research, and also gave us the opportunity to present their larger research project to a wider audience. In the guest lecture section of the event, Prof. Camacho presented a keynote titled “Sāmoan Youth Gangs & The Transoceanic World - A Commentary on Indigeneity, Power & Race”. Prof. Camacho’s scholarly interventions in Chamorro cultural and historical memories as well as Japanese and US-American colonization and militarism have made him one of the most important voices in (trans)Pacific and transoceanic studies. Accordingly, his lecture and its intersections with the research project opened up new paths of inquiry that they began to explore in conversation with the audience.  

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