Statement of Continued Commitment

American Studies Program
Bates College

We, the program of American Studies, want to affirm our commitment to combating systematic racism. We reject racist structures and actions through our departmental culture and practices, curricula, and pedagogies. We stand firm in our commitment to the liberal arts as a liberatory and emancipatory education that should be used to critically engage in the world, relying on decolonizing frameworks to dismantle systematic oppressive structures. We recommit to creating a safe and equitable space for learning for our students, faculty, and staff.  

  1. We affirm that Black Lives Matter, Latinx lives matter, Indigenous lives Matter, non-Black People of Colors lives Matter. We understand that silence is not an option.
  2. We commit to continuing to teach about American/U.S. Cultural politics in a global context that we must analyze and expose anti-Blackness and other forms of racial oppression. The history of American Studies has been to decenter whiteness as a starting point for understanding the world. American Studies at Bates will continue this with an emphasis on transdisciplinarity. We welcome all students, faculty and staff to stand, sit, or kneel in solidarity with us.
  3. We believe our curricula must reflect the realities of our students, our communities,  and our world.
  4. We commit to analyzing and combating racist practices as a program – culturally, socially, linguistically, academically, and professionally – in our teaching, writing, research, and work-spaces for students, staff, faculty and in our lived experiences outside of the institution.






American Studies

What does it mean to be “an American?” How does our understanding of American culture, and our relation to it, differ depending upon historical context, social position, and the interpretive and ideological perspectives we bring to bear upon it?  American Studies pursues these questions using a variety of interdisciplinary approaches, using texts, performance, and material culture as points of departure for our wide-ranging exploration of American culture. While it focuses on the United States, American Studies situates the U.S. in a wider transnational context. In particular, American Studies explores the various ways that institutions, values and practices shape, maintain, and challenge relations of power. American Studies courses are designed to elucidate what has been rendered socially invisible.

Such discussions interrogate realities and discourses that have been deemed natural in order to expose their socially contingent character.  Through their critical engagement with race, gender, sexuality, social class, disability, and other sites of identity, and with their own relation to them, students interrogate the meaning of belonging, privilege, and exclusion. Among current American Studies courses are those that focus on cultural geography and cultural politics, borderlands, diasporas, film and media, gender, history, literature, music, performance, queer theory, and race theory.