The Presence of "America" in India

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
International Forum for US Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
05.04.2012 - 08.04.2012
Kaiser, Anita

During the last decade, the circulation of ideas, commodities, cultural practices, and cultural products perceived as coming from the U.S. and gaining traction in India has accelerated. We understand this process as a dialectical one, full of multiple transformations/translations/ and effects, and with a substantial history, where India is not merely a “receiving” region, but rather a complex set of national and subnational cultural and political groups actively involved in articulating relationships to “America.” We use the term “America” advisedly as it does not presume to reference all of the Americas but rather to capture the sense of the U.S. as both a geo-political entity and a cultural imaginary, that is, not only as a political actor, mediating between Pakistan and India, but also as a cultural influence in many of the contemporary changes in Indian daily life and institutional structures. These include shifting practices of food consumption, modes of fashion, notions of secular democratic politics, the restructuring of Indian higher education institutions, the emphasis on “American” accents in English speech, employment in U.S. corporation customer service “call centers,” the impact of the presence of the US business corporations (such as IBM), new developments in Indian agriculture and engineering, the migration of hip hop style dancing into Bollywood musicals, the much contested “brain drain” to the United States, and so on.

We welcome paper proposals from a wide range of disciplines and topics that seek to understand the complexities of these processes and relations. These include but are not limited to: media studies, security issues, food, agriculture and ecology, diaspora studies, performance and the performing arts, fashion, business and economics, literatures and language, religion, engineering, architecture and landscape, travel and tourism, and social relations. Proposals should explicitly address the conference theme. Panels will be organized to give each speaker approximately 20 minutes each. Other formats beyond the usual paper presentation mode, such as posters and performances, will also be considered.

Please submit via email a proposal detailing your research and how it addresses the conference theme in the form of a brief abstract of no more than 300 words. Please include your name, title, affiliation, and contact information (mailing address and email), as well as a brief C.V. of no more than two pages BY OCTOBER 15TH, to:

The conference will be held April 5th-8th at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


Anita Kaiser
Conference Coordinator
International Forum for US Studies

The Presence of "America" in India, 05.04.2012 – 08.04.2012 Urbana-Champaign, in: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 23.09.2011, <>.
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