Archipelagic American Studies
Among works depicting coastal and insular United States in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is Poppies (Isles of Shoals), painted by Childe Hassam in 1891. Poppies is a quiet reminder that America is an archipelago—a revelation, perhaps, since to think about both the United States and the Americas has been to think primarily in continental and hemispheric terms and expansive, indeed “worlding,” processes. Drawing on scale as a heuristic, in this chapter fascination with these processes motivates a rethinking of the United States of America in terms of five modes of archipelagicity. The aim is to imagine the United States of America as an archipelago to unsettle overpowering discourses of continentalism, give shape to other and different ontologies, epistemes, and values, and reorder how one might imagine both the idea of the archipelago and the United States of America per se.