Archipelagic American Studies
Theories and Methods for an Archipelagic American Studies
This chapter examines the heuristics of various geographical metaphors that shape theoretical and empirical analyses, especially in the social sciences and humanities. Some of the most important geographical metaphors have been territories (as delimited by states), regions (cultural areas), islands, and the world (globalization). In contrast, archipelagic thinking seeks to study roots, formed by place and habitation, and connected through routes, understood as complex connections, and to map the historical trajectories of the geographic configuration of archipelagoes. This logic would emphasize discontinuous connections rather than physical proximity, fluid movements across porous margins rather than delimited borders, and complex spatial networks rather than the oblique horizons of landscapes—in sum, moving islands rather than fixed geographic formations. In this view, archipelagos are spatial and historical configurations assembled and reconfigured, often shaped by imperial and postcolonial processes and imaginaries. “Archipe-logics” study the structures of worldwide entanglements and seek the poetics of Relation.