The 62nd Annual Meeting of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA|GAAS) is dedicated to KNOWLEDGE LANDSCAPES NORTH AMERICA and will take place from May 28-31, 2015 at the University of Bonn, hosted and organized by the North American Studies Program.
Societies increasingly rely on knowledge as an indispensable resource. Concepts of knowledge, modes of knowledge production and circulation, and access to knowledge have consequently turned into key issues of scholarly and public debate. These discussions frequently turn their attention to the particularities of North American spaces and institutions of knowledge production. The United States in particular have established themselves as a world region generating forms of knowledge that circulate ‘successfully’ on a transcultural and transnational scale and drive globalization. Significantly enough, North America has retained its crucial position in knowledge production and distribution despite major shifts in global power constellations. If expectations concerning economic futures capitalize on regions of East Asia, Latin America, and, more recently, Africa, when it comes to knowledge cultures, the global gaze continues to be on North America.
This dynamic raises pertinent questions: What has turned many North American campuses into, literally, landscapes attracting scholars and students from all over the world? What conditions have, at different moments in time, been conducive to North American adaptations of knowledge evolved elsewhere and to the local production of innovative, new knowledges? Besides schools and research institutions, what agents have played a particular role in this development? What is the significance of local and everyday knowledge and what knowledges have been marginalized or ‘forgotten’? Who has had access to, who has been excluded from institutions of knowledge production? What and how do literatures and the arts know? How have shifting media ecologies affected concepts of knowledge and its circulation? How do ongoing processes of global migration and cultural translation play into all this? And how do what we call North American knowledge landscapes in turn respond to shifts in a global dynamic? These are some of the questions the 2015 conference addresses in its endeavor to map North American knowledge landscapes from the perspectives of literary, cultural, and media studies, history, political science, sociology, and economics as well as through the arts.