Skip to main content

Jens Temmen

Doctoral Fellow

    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 national 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 an 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 Temmen is an assistant professor at the American Studies department at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (Germany). He received his PhD in American Studies as part of his PhD fellowship with the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms at the University of Potsdam. His first monograph, titled The Territorialities of US Imperialism(s): Conflicting Discourses of Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territory in Nineteenth-Century US Legal Texts and Indigenous Life Writing (Universitätsverlag Winter, 2020), analyzes discourses of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and territoriality in legal and literary narratives on the North American continent and in the Pacific. In 2016, he was a DAAD-funded visiting scholar at the Center for Biographical Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (USA). He is co-editor of an anthology titled Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic and (Trans)Pacific Studies (Routledge, 2018) and coeditor of a Special Forum of the Journal for Transnational American Studies (JTAS) on “American Territorialities“. His postdoctoral research project employs an ecocritical and a posthuman studies lens to analyze representations of Mars colonization in contemporary US literature and culture.