1st Edition

Elsewhere in America The Crisis of Belonging in Contemporary Culture

By David Trend Copyright 2016
    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    Americans think of their country as a welcoming place where everyone has equal opportunity. Yet historical baggage and anxious times can restrain these possibilities. Newcomers often find that civic belonging comes with strings attached––riddled with limitations or legally punitive rites of passage. For those already here, new challenges to civic belonging emerge on the basis of belief, behavior, or heritage. This book uses the term "elsewhere" in describing conditions that exile so many citizens to "some other place" through prejudice, competition, or discordant belief. Yet, in another way, "elsewhere" evokes an undefined "not yet" ripe with potential. In the face of America’s daunting challenges, can "elsewhere" point to optimism, hope, and common purpose?

    Through 12 detailed chapters, the book applies critical theory in the humanities and social sciences to examine recurring crises of social inclusion in the U.S. After two centuries of incremental "progress" in securing human dignity, today the U.S. finds itself torn by new conflicts over reproductive rights, immigration, health care, religious extremism, sexual orientation, mental illness, and fear of terrorists. Is there a way of explaining this recurring tendency of Americans to turn against each other? Elsewhere in America engages these questions, charting the ever-changing faces of difference (manifest in contested landscapes of sex and race to such areas as disability and mental health), their spectral and intersectional character (recent discourses on performativity, normativity, and queer theory), and the grounds on which categories are manifest in ideation and movement politics (metapolitics, cosmopolitanism, dismodernism).

    Belonging Where? Introduction


    Part I: Belonging There: People Like Us

      1. Makers and Takers: When More is Not Enough

    The Wealth of Nations

    Other People’s Money

    The Virtues of Selfishness

    Cultures of Unreason

    2. True Believers: Spiritual Life in a Secular Age

    Surprised by Sin

    True Believers?

    Selective Memories

    A History of Religious Outsiders

    3. Ordinary People: The Normal and the Pathological

    Inventing Normal

    Laws of Averages

    Standard Deviations

    Common Denominators

    4. Homeland Insecurities: Expecting the Worst

    A Dangerous World?

    Barbarians at the Gate

    Privacy Rights and Wrongs

    Something to Hide

    Organized Hate

    Part II: Belonging Somewhere: Blurred Boundaries

    5. Reality is Broken: Neoliberalism and the Virtual Economy

    Neoliberalism Revisited

    Citizenship, Inc.

    The Politics of Culture

    Aesthetic Contradictions

    Virtual Rebels

    6. Mistaken Identities: From Color Blindness to Gender Bending

    Welcome to "Post-Identity" America

    The Race for Race

    Pictures at an Exhibition

    Bending Sex and Gender

    Varieties of Gazing

    7. No Body is Perfect: Disability in a Posthuman Age

    No Body is Perfect

    Constructions of Ableism

    The Dismodern Condition

    The Posthuman Body

    8. On the Spectrum: America’s Mental Health Disorder

    Stigma and Discrimination

    On Invisibility and Passing

    The Shame Game

    The Affective Turn

    Political Feelings


    Part III: Belonging Elsewhere: The Subject of Utopia

    9. Gaming the System: Competition and its Discontents

    No Contest

    Doing God’s Business

    Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    The Power of Giving

    Game Over

    10. To Affinity and Beyond: The Cyborg and the Cosmopolitan

    A Cyborg Manifesto

    Third Person Plural

    Queering Heterosexuality

    Crip Analogies

    Realms of Mattering

    11. Medicating the Problem: The New American Pharmakon

    The Narcotic Tower of Babel

    Models of Addiction

    Writing on Drugs


    Big Pharma

    12. The One and the Many: The Ethics of Uncertainty

    Be Here Now

    Possession and Dispossession

    The One and the Many



    David Trend is Chair of the Department of Art at the University of California, Irvine. He holds a PhD in Curriculum Theory and an MFA in Visual Studies. His books include Worlding: Identity, Media, and Imagination in a Digital Age (2013), The End of Reading (2010), A Culture Divided (2009), Everyday Culture (2008),  and The Myth of Media Violence (2007), among others. Honored as a Getty Scholar, Trend is the author of over 200 essays and a former editor of the journals  Afterimage and Socialist Review. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

    "This is a terrific book--smart, provocative, engaging, and clearly written. It offers a memorable set of readings for students and scholars alike. Each chapter is a gem of organization, integration, and argument. Trend’s essays lead the reader through a maze of countervailing theories and positions leaving them with a much stronger sense of the complexity of our present time. Trend’s book is less about critique (though the critique is powerful) and more about a kind of hope that is restrained yet feasible." 

    Richard A. Quantz, Professor, Miami University

    "Trend is a lucid writer able to unmask the internal contractions of the neoliberal order with theoretical and conceptual clarity, as he writes with urgency to make sense of a fractured America in a changing world economy."

    Rodolfo D. Torres, Professor, University of California, Irvine, and former Adam Smith Fellow, University of Glasgow 

    "Elsewhere in America offers a prescient, non-dialectical approach to alterity, deftly revealing the hidden paradoxes inherent to so-called positions of "center" and "margin" within current media-driven polemics. Skirting binary logic, Trend offers a series of daring new formulations for hybrid positionalities – neither utopian nor dystopian – that afford theory to be transposed effectively into practice. Elsewhere in America will sit on my bookshelf along side Chantal Mouffe and Henry A. Giroux as an invaluable go-to source for artists and writers rethinking democracy in this age of political extremism."

    Juli Carson, Professor, Univesity of California, Irvine