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Jens Temmen

Doctoral Fellow


Campus Neues Palais
building 2, room 1.11

University of Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam


by appointment

Dissertation Project

Overriding Native American Nationhood: Transnational and Legal American Spaces

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.


Jens is currently a PhD Fellow with the DFG-funded Research Training Group “Minor Cosmopolitanisms“ at the University of Potsdam. His PhD thesis, titled “Overriding Native American Nationhood: Transnational and Legal American Spaces (1788-present),” analyzes discourses of territoriality, legitimacy, and sovereignty in legal and literary narratives on the North American continent and in the Pacific. Before joining the Research Training Group, Jens Temmen did research and taught at the American Studies division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany and the Department of English and American Studies in Potsdam, Germany. In 2016, he was DAAD-funded visiting scholar at the Center for Biographical Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (USA). Jens has published a number of articles relating to U.S. imperialism in the Pacific and on Hawai’i, discourses of territoriality and legitimacy in the American Southwest, and representations of Mars colonization in contemporary U.S. literature and culture. He is also co-editor of a special issue of Atlantic Studies: Global Currents titled "Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic and (Trans)Pacific Studies" and co-editor of a special forum of the Journal for Transnational American Studies (JTAS) on “American Territorialities.” 

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 

Website 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)

Website Nicole Poppenhagen 

Call for Papers Special Issue


Contemporary Representations of Mars Colonization in American Literature and Culture (WT)

Ever since Barack Obama's 2010 speech at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on a possible NASA mission to Mars ,there has been a tangible surge in cultural and literary imaginings of the future of U.S.-led Mars exploration and colonization (cf. Obama, “Remarks by the President”). In spite of increasingly joint international efforts in space exploration, and in spite of the legally and discursively ambiguous status of extra-terrestrial territory, Obama's speech revitalized space exploration as a project of national identity and the epitome of U.S. modernity by evoking Kennedy’s famous moon declaration and linking it to his administration’s plans to send Americans to Mars by 2030. Coming to terms with an allegedly transnationalized outer space through the discourses of imperialism and colonization produces a tension that is picked up, I argue, by recent representations of U.S.-led Mars colonization both in film, literature, science, and the law. My project will explore these representations of Mars exploration and their entanglements with discourses of imperialism, colonization, territoriality, militourism, transnationalism, and nationalism. 

Jens Temmen

Research interests

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

Selected Publications

with Nicole Waller. Eds. “American Territorialities.“ Special Forum of the Journal of Transnational American Studies (JTAS). Forthcoming.

"From HI-SEAS to Outer Space: Discourses of Water and Territory in U.S. Mars Exploration and U.S. Pacific Imperialism." Under review. Print.

with Nicole Poppenhagen. “Introduction: Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic Studies and (Trans)Pacific Studies“. "Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic Studies and (Trans)Pacific Studies“ Nicole Poppenhagen and Jens Temmen. Eds. Spec. Issue of Atlantic StudiesGlobal Currents. 2017. Print.

with Nicole Poppenhagen. Eds. “Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic Studies and (Trans)Pacific Studies“. Spec. Issue of Atlantic StudiesGlobal Currents. Forthcoming. Print.

  • Contributors: William Boelhower, Juliane Braun, Keith Camacho, Pilar Cuder-Dominguez, Alexandra Ganser, Craig Santos Perez, John Carlos Rowe, Nicole Waller, Steven Yao

“’So it happens that we are relegated to the condition of the aborigines of the American continent’: Disavowing and Reclaiming Sovereignty in Liliuokalani’s Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen and the Congressional Morgan Report.” Postcolonial Justice. Eds. Anke Bartels, Lars Eckstein, Nicole Waller, Dirk Wiemann. 2017. Leiden and Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2017. 333-356. Print.

Rev. of The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945, by Anna Brickhouse. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik ZAA 65.1 (2017): 117-120. Print.

with Sonja John. “Biopolitics – Geopolitics – Sovereignty – Life: Settler Colonialisms and Indigenous Presences in North America”, 25.06.2015 – 27.06.2015 Mainz, in: H-Soz-Kult, April 8th,  2015, <http://www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-6116>. Web.

“Overriding/Overwriting the Reservation: John Rollin Ridge‘s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit.“ Rural America. Eds. Antje Kley and Heike Paul. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2015. 131-148. Print.

Selected Conference Papers & Public Lectures

Conference paper; “Of Sovereign Citizens and Sanctuary Cities: Contemporary U.S. (Counter)Narratives of Territoriality, Jurisdiction, and Citizenship.” Under review.

Conference paper; with Nicole Poppenhagen. "Navigating Pacific and Atlantic Currents: Towards a Transoceanic Perspective in American Studies?" Transoceanic American Studies Conference. German Historical Institute. Washington D.C., USA, May 17-18, 2018.

Guest lecture; "Zentrale Fragen indigener Gesellschaften der Gegenwart: Zwei Fallstudien aus der Pazifikregion.” Filmfestival Tage des Indigenen Films. Rostock, November 22-26, 2017. 

Guest lecture; "'Hawaii is an American state, and is embraced in the American commercial and military system': Conceptions of Militourism and the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy." Seminar "Hawai’i: History, Politics, Culture." Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, November 14, 2017.

Conference paper; "Envisioning the Future as an Obscured Past: Imaginings of Mars Colonization and the Discourses of 19 th Century U.S. Pacific Imperialism." "Modernities and Modernization in North America." 64. Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany, June 8-11, 2017.

Guest lecture; "Scaling the Pacific: Territoriality, U.S. Imperialism, and the Annexation of Hawai'i." Seminar "(Re)Imagining the Pacific in American Literature." Flensburg University, Flensburg, June 20, 2016.

Conference paper; "From HI-SEAS to Outer Space: 'Hawai'i as Mars' and the U.S. Legal Discourse of Hawaiian Annexation." Maritime Mobilities: Critical Perspectives from the Humanities. University of Vienna, Austria. February 1-2, 2016.

Workshop paper, "The Currency of Law and Literature in Transpacific Studies and the Study of U.S. Imperialism." ""Views from Different Shores": Future Directions in Transpacific Studies." University of Potsdam, July 17, 2015.

Seminars; "Defining America: New Writing, New Voices, New Directions." Salzburg Global Seminar, Salzburg, Austria, September 27 - October 1, 2014.

Conference paper; "Native Americans and the Law: From Spatial and Narrative to Legal Borderlands." "Contested Properties: Culture, Rights and the Humanities." 5. Osnabrück Summer Institute on the Cultural Study of the Law. University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, August 4-16, 2014.

Conference paper; "Overwriting and Disavowing Hawaii: Queen Liliuokalani's Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen and the Morgan Report." "Postcolonial Justice." 25. Annual Aonference of the German Association for New English Literature (GNEL/GAPS) and the 14. Biannual Conference of the German Association for Australien Studies (GASt), University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 2014.

Conference paper; "Overwriting and Disavowing Hawaii: Queen Liliuokalani's Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen and the Morgan Report." "Travelling Narratives: Modernity and the Spatial Imaginary." International Symposium, University of Zurich, Zurich, November 29-December 1, 2013.

Guest lecture, “Native American Literary Theory.” Working With Theories in American Studies. Introductory Lecture, University of Potsdam. June 14, 2013.

Conference paper; "Overriding/Overwriting the Reservation: John Rollin Ridge's The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit." "Rural America." 60. Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Erlangen, May 30-June 2, 2013.

Guest lecture, “Locating Geronimo: Spaces of Removal and Resistance.” Introduction to Native American Studies. Introductory Lecture Series, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. December 20, 2012.

Conference paper; ""Such were the events in 'Apache land': Transnationalism and the Westward Expansion in Geronimo's Story of His Life." "Transnational American Studies." 58. Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), University of Regensburg, June 16-19, 2011.

Conference and Workshop Organization

Symposium co-organizer (with Nicole Waller); "American Territorialities." University of Potsdam, Potsdam, July 6, 2016.

Workshop co-organizer (with Nicole Waller); "Rethinking 'Territory': Territorial Rights and Water." 63. Annual Conference of the German Association of American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Osnabrück, May 19-22, 2016.

Workshop co-organizer (with Nicole Waller); ""Views from Different Shores": Future Directions in Transpacific Studies." University of Potsdam, July 17, 2015.

Workshop co-organizer (with Nicole Poppenhagen); "(Trans)pacific Knowledge Landscapes." "Knowledge Landscapes North America." 62. Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Bonn, May 28-31, 2015.

Conference organizing team; "Postcolonial Justice." 25. Annual Conference of the German Association for New English Literature (GNEL/GAPS) and the 14. Biannual Conference of the German Association for Australien Studies (GASt), University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 2014.

Conference organizing team; "American Lives." 59. Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, May 31-June 3, 2012.

Workshop series organizing team; "Mapping the World, Mapping Literature." American Studies Division, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, June 24 – July 30, 2011.

Conference organizing team; "Life Writing & Ecology." American Studies division, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, June 24 – June 27, 2010.

Selected Scholarships, Awards and Memberships

Fellow of the Graduate College "Minor Cosmopolitanisms"(funded by the DFG), University of Potsdam, Germany (since 2016)

Visiting Scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Awarded for a research stay at the Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, HI, USA (2016)

Excursion funding; awarded by the Commission for Development, Planning and Finances (EPK) for an in-class field trip to the Karl-May-Museum (Radebeul). Bachelor Seminar "Introduction to Native American Studies." University of Potsdam (2015)

Alumnus of the Junior Teaching Professionals Program, Potsdam Graduate School, University of Potsdam (2014)

Conference funding; "Teachers Workshop - Postcolonial Justice"; Awarded by the Commission for Research and Junior Scientific Staff (FNK), University of Potsdam (2014)

Fellow of the Institute for the Cultural Study of the Law, University of Osnabrück (2014 Alumnus)

Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar American Studies Association, Salzburg (2014 Alumnus)

Travel grant of the Embassy of the United States of American in Berlin (2014)

Masters Thesis Prize of the Professor Dr. Friedrich Schubel-Stiftung; awarded for an outstanding master thesis in American Studies titled "Displacing the Nation in the American Southwest: Joaquin Murieta and Geronimo's Story of His Life." Mainz (2012)


I have taught Bachelor and Master seminars, and have held guest lectures and lectures covering a variety of topics, such as Hawaiian Literature, U.S. imperialism in the Pacific, Asian American Literature, Native American studies, Graphic Novels, and Food studies.

Academic and Professional Development

10/2016 - today

Doctoral Fellow, Graduate College "Minor Cosmopolitanisms" (DFG funded), University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

7/2016 - 8/2016

Visiting scholar; Center for Biographical Research. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, HI, USA, July - August 2016.

04/2013 - 09/2016

Research Assistant / Teaching Assistant (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter), American Literature and Culture, Department of English and American Studies, University of Potsdam, Germany

08/2012 - 04/2013

Research Assistant / Teaching Assistant (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) American Studies division, Department of English and Linguistics, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany 

2008 – 2012

Non-teaching staff (nicht-wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Office for Public Relations and Press, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany

Responsibilities included: 

  • Project manager, Deutschlandstipendium (“Scholarship of the Federal Republic of Germany”)
  • Organizing team "KinderUni“ (Kid’s University) of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (10x per year)
  • Organizing team "Jobmesse“ of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (annually)
  • Organizing team of the "Wissenschaftsmarkt" (Science Fair) of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (annually)
  • Organizing team, Federal Excellence Initiative inspection at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 2012
  • Script and concept for public relations video “American Studies in Mainz”; joint project of the American Studies Division and the Office for Press and Public Relations, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz; Link to video
  • Organizing team and coordination of the Kids‘ University lecture with Federal President Christian Wulff, "Demokratie (er)leben!“ (Experiencing and Living Democracy!), Office for Press and Public Relations, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 2011
  • Organizing team "Spiegel Gespräch“ mit Bundespräsident Horst Köhler, „Wie politisch ist das Amt des Bundespräsidenten?“ (Spiegel lectures with Federal President Horst Köhler), Press and Public Relations, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, 2008