The United States is often figured outside of the international, despite its role as the central protagonist of many global conflicts and political outcomes. Across universities, International Studies departments isolate themselves from American and Ethnic Studies—including African American, Latinx, Asian American, and Indigenous Studies—programs that have been traditionally positioned at the outskirts of international relations. This siloing of knowledge erases the connections, continuities, and overlaps between histories in the Americas and those outside of its porous borders. In this talk, I discuss my own trajectory from International Studies towards my current doctoral research in transnational American Studies. I map my interests in South Asia by moving from an area studies approach to one that is committed to diaspora, migration, and empire. By refusing a canonical reading of what constitutes “the international,” I track a global construction of American culture. I also show how my research on Indian Americans narrates the ways that America has been shaped by the world at the same time that it has shaped American accounts of the world. I follow scholars of transnational America to see how the United States is a place “always in process.” This requires that we see the “interpenetration” between inside and outside, domestic and foreign, national and transnational. By bridging these dichotomous understandings of the world and the U.S., I take seriously the crossroads generated by multi-directional flow of people, ideas, and goods that make possible transnational connectivities and futures.
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