Javier Francisco presents a working paper on ‚Clashes of Empires: Europe’s Zero-Sum Games in America‘

In my research project I investigate the paradox of European imperial longevity in the Americas when compared to the second European empires in Africa and Asia (19th-20th centuries). The aim is to offer a new argumentative narrative for understanding imperial cohesion and centrifugal forces that ultimately led to colonial secession. This narrative is based on zero-sum thinking which I interpret as a main driver. Herein, I identify several fragile phases which I use as a foundation for historical theory formation, while focusing on the US-American Revolution of 1776. I investigate how zero-sum thinking became a problem for imperial stability because colonists were no longer afraid of their potentially hostile neighbors (due to inter-imperial consolidation after the Treaty of Madrid of 1750 and France’s loss of the French and Indian War in 1763); because the thought of zero-sum expansion could still be pursued at the cost of the indigenous (“frontiers”); because zero-sum thinking was no longer a defining idea of economic growth and prosperity (mercantilism loses support); and because the spread of universalism of ‘sovereignty’ entered the socio-political stage and forced reforms that were not met (in the case of the British) or partially and insufficiently met (in the case of the Spanish, i.a. Cádiz Cortes). Following the argument of imperial fragility throughout the centuries, the US-American Revolution has to be seen in a historical line of fragility which was then ultimately cut.

Sanam Roohi gives a working paper on ‚Telugu associations in the US: Caste differentiation and diasporic politics in a transregionally connected social field‘

American Telugu associations, built as a cultural platform to unite spatially dispersed Telugu diaspora have become key political intermediaries linking the US with Andhra and Telangana’s political landscape. Although the term Telugu point to their larger linguistic basis of membership, the caste character of these associations is reflected in the way particular communities exercise control of these associations and the alignments of these associations with caste affiliated political parties in India. In this paper I argue that these diasporic Telugu organisations are performing the role of caste associations, albeit in a refashioned way: as in colonial times, they work to make caste relevant, but now in a globalising milieu. Caste associations, a product of colonial modernity and increasing urbanisation have worked for the dynamically defined ‘interests’ of the community, which changes over time. While in colonial times, caste associations worked to unite sub-jatis, achieve upward mobility in the caste hierarchy, and wrest concessions from the British government, in post-independence era, their tryst with democratic politics have been lauded by scholars. With transnational migration and a sense of disintegration of community and cultural values among migrants in the USA, I argue that it is organizations like TANA and ATA that take up the project of building caste based community cohesiveness transnationally even as they attempt to become political mediators in local politics in India. In doing so, associational politics create a transnational social field where carefully crafted and performed caste differentiation between the two major caste groups – Kammas and Reddys pan out. Whereas Reddys and Kammas often see each other as opponents or rivals, they also regard themselves as the only two legitimate caste groups who can represent Telugus both in America and in Andhra. Therefore, the associational politics in the diaspora also point to how Reddy-Kamma rivalry has subsumed the political possibilities of other caste groups within a trans-regionally connected social field.