Max Clayton is a Ph.D. student in American studies at Yale University. He is a first-generation college student who graduated with a B.A. in religion in 2013 and an M.A. in religion from Yale Divinity School in 2019. His research interests include nineteenth century land allotments, race, religion, and U.S. empire, critical theory, and political economy.


Empire’s Anxiety and Indigeneity: Recent American studies critiques of U.S. empire

“Anxieties of Empire” appears as a theme in recent American studies scholarship alongside a web of related concepts aimed at interrogating the contours of U.S. empire. This paper analyzes how the theme of imperial anxieties and its conceptual partners have been recently deployed by scholars working on settler colonialism and indigenous history, and critical theory to question the stability, completeness, and future(s) of U.S. empire. The paper then clarifies what is taken to be the historical and political stakes of this reframing of U.S. empire: it underscores the persistence of indigenous nations and their legal claims to sovereignty; it deflates capitalism’s overconfidence and undermines its unquestionableness; and it opens up new political and ethical alternatives to imperial forms of governance.

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