Jens Temmen is a associate postdoctoral researcher at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz with a focus on the study of U.S. imperialism, Native American studies, transpacific studies, critical legal studies, ecocriticism, and postcolonial studies. In August 2019, he successfully defended his PhD thesis in American studies (summa cum laude) as part of his PhD-fellowship with the DFG-funded Research Training Group “Minor Cosmopolitanisms“ at the University of Potsdam. His PhD thesis, which is titled “The Territorialities of U.S. Imperialisms: Conflicting Discourses of Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territory in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Legal Texts and Indigenous Life Writing,” analyzes discourses of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and territoriality in legal and literary narratives on the North American continent and in the Pacific.
Before joining the Research Training Group in Potsdam, Jens was a teaching and research assistant ("Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter") 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 an anthology published with Routledge titled Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic and (Trans)Pacific Studies and co-editor of a forthcoming special forum of the Journal for Transnational American Studies (JTAS) on “American Territorialities.”
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.