The national and the international are usually seen as mutually exclusive categories. This assumption, however, gets complicated when we speak of the United States. Either because of its status as ... read more
The national and the international are usually seen as mutually exclusive categories. This assumption, however, gets complicated when we speak of the United States. Either because of its status as world superpower or because of more subtle processes of globalization, the United States far exceeds its territorial boundaries. American border practices spill over to neighboring countries and airports everywhere, American security practices shape the meaning of safety across the world, American military bases produce mini-worlds both in warring and allied nations, American products and services are made globally available through “free-trade” agreements, and American culture travels far and wide thanks to Hollywood and American campuses abroad. This course surveys prominent and other more obscure instances of American economic institutions, security practices, and cultural models exceeding the geopolitical container of the American state. The point of this exercise is not necessarily to assess the hegemonic status of the United States (is it or is it not still a world superpower?), but rather to explore the more subtle and mundane ways in which US power moulds the traditional model of national sovereignty to its own advantage. Whether this is evidence for an imperial power at large or rather a manifestation of the more diffuse, networked logic of Empire, described by Hardt and Negri, to which the US needs to adapt like any other nation, should remain one of the course’s main themes for discussion.