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The environment is a global issue, experienced locally, if unevenly. For many, the local effects have become increasingly intense. For the American Studies (AMSJ) editorial team in Lawrence, Kansas, those local effects are increasingly amplified as the region faces perilous ecological challenges around water usage and agriculture. The Ogallala Aquifer that underlies Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska is quickly drying up, threatening to make the region that this journal publishes from a desert. The regional ecological crisis situated the journal’s editors to think about the realities of desertification in the immediate future and called for a response as an interdisciplinary humanities journal. How might American Studies (AMSJ) contribute to the refashioning of the environmental narratives that guide the many cultural, economic, and political policy choices?
The editorial team challenged four guest editors “to curate an issue that examines questions of environmental historiography, climate change, cultural assumptions and attitudes, global warming, and physical landscapes, and how these pressing concerns intersect with ethnicity, gender, globalization, health, law, political economy, race, religion, sex, sexuality, and social activism.” The co-editors, Hee-Jung Serenity Joo (University of Minnesota), Pacharee Sudhinaraset (New York University), Michelle Yates (Columbia College, Chicago), and Timo Müller (University of Konstanz), delivered extraordinary submissions that called for the creation a special double issue with two curated pathways and conversations, with echoes between, to be explored in tandem. “Our Shared Planet: The Environment Issue” (AMSJ Volume 60: 3 & 4) takes up the poetics of justice, climate change, relationships between human and non-human, and other conversations circling today’s climate crisis.
This event, hosted by the Hall Center for the Humanities, will bring editors of AMSJ, Sherrie Tucker and Randal Maurice Jelks, into conversation with the journal’s four guest editors to discuss this double issue and its contents with a wider public.