Spatialization Processes in the Americas: Configurations and Narratives

SFB 1199 (Leipzig U)


Where do the Americas begin, and where do they end? What is the relationship between the spatial constructions of “area” and “continent”? How were the Americas imagined by different actors in different historical periods, and how were these imaginations – as continent, nation, region – guided by changing goals and priorities? Which competing and conflicting narratives of spatialization can we observe in past discourses, and how do they reflect dynamics of delimitation, exclusion, or inclusion? What is the relationship of present discourses on the Americas to these earlier narratives?

The questions of when, where, and under which conditions transnational spatialization processes involve the crossing or creating of borders is particularly relevant in the Americas. How should transnational space be defined: geostrategically, culturally, historically, philosophically, geographically, politically, or as a combination of these and other approaches? Which configurations emerge from such definitions? What do the economies, politics, histories, cultures, languages, philosophies, religions, and literatures of the Americas tell us about the dimensions and depths of processes of spatialization and the boundaries created by them?

Do present processes of globalization weld together the different parts of the Americas or do they rather create divisions, for example between highly industrialized and less developed countries? What is the role of contact zones and peripheries, of rimlands and borderlands between North and South – which have produced not only “open wounds” (Anzaldúa) but also reimaginations of space, nation, and national cultures – as well as places such as Miami or New Orleans, which are often considered extensions of the Caribbean? And how do free trade zones, migrations, networks of drug trade and violence, and new currency flows (such as remittances) impact the transformation of national borders into new frontiers? What is the relationship between imagined border crossings and existing or newly drawn borders and the discourses produced by them?

The organizers invite participants to discuss these and related questions in a two-day interdisciplinary workshop. The contributions will be published in a collection of essays in 2018.

Please register by 17 March 2017 by e-mailing Please note that the maximum number of participants is 30.


Preliminary Programme

Wedneday, 5 April
10:00 am–10:15 am: Welcome and Registration
10:15 am–10:30 am: Introduction


I. Spaces and Places
Panel 1: Discovering/Appropriating
Prof. Dr. Gesa Mackenthun
(North American Literature and Culture Studies, U Rostock): Storied Landscapes: Colonial and Decolonial Inscriptions of the Land
Prof. Dr. Michael Zeuske (Department of Iberian and Latin American History, U Cologne): Slaveries and Colonization of the Americas: the Appropiating of Space
Discussant: Dr. Claudia Rauhut (Institute for Latin American Studies, FU Berlin)

12:00 pm–1:30 pm Lunch

Panel 2: Fragmenting/Integrating
Dr. Megan Maruschke
(SFB 1199, Leipzig U): Breaking from Empire: American and Haitian Independence, 1770–1830
Prof. Dr. Peter Birle (Ibero-American Institute – Prussian Cultural Heritage, Berlin): Regional Cooperation and Integration in Latin America: Challenges and Obstacles
Discussant: Thomas Plötze (Institute of Political Science, Leipzig U)

Coffee Break

Panel 3: Representing/Symbolizing
Dr. Heinz Peter Brogiato
(Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Central Geographical Library): “Big Apple” and Big Trees – German Tourists Discover the New World Travel Photography at the End of the 19th Century
Prof. Dr. Ute Wardenga & Stephan Pietsch (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography): Between Inventories of the ‘National Space’ and International Networking: The Evolution of the National Geographic Society, 1888–1914
Discussant: Prof. Dr. Frank Hadler (Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe)

Workshop Dinner

Thursday, 6 April
10:30 am
II. Boundaries and Borders
Panel 4: Setting/Transgressing Boundaries
Prof. Dr. Heidrun Zinecker
(Institute of Political Science, Leipzig U): The Maras Between the Americas – Where are their Boundaries?
Dr. Antje Dietze (SFB 1199, Leipzig U): Americanization of Show Business? Shifting Territories of Theatrical Entertainment in North America at the Turn of the 20th Century
Prof. Dr. Heike Paul (English and American Studies, U Erlangen): Abolitionist Geographies: Black Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in 19th-Century Canada (working title)
Discussant: Dr. Geert Castryck (SFB 1199, Leipzig U)


Panel 5: Mapping and Managing Transnational Space
Dr. Hannes Warnecke-Berger
(Institute of Political Science, Leipzig U): Transcending El Salvador? Managing the Transnational Remittances Economy
Dr. Jana Moser (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography): How Different a Border Region can be Spatialized by Using Maps: a Look at the US‐Mexico Border
Discussant: Prof. Dr. Jörg Gertel (Institute for Geography – Economic Geography and Global Studies, Leipzig U)

Coffee Break

Panel 6: Borderlands/Rimlands
Prof. Dr. Josef Raab
(American Studies, U Duisburg-Essen): Contestation, Hybridization, Criminalization: U.S.-Mexican Borderland Vistas from Occupied America to Lone Star and Current U.S. Political Rhetoric
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez (Institute for American Studies, Leipzig U): Florida as a Hemispheric Space (working title)
Discussant: Dr. Andreas Beer (Leipzig)

Concluding Remarks
Prof. Dr. Matthias Middell (Global and European Studies Institute, Leipzig U)