International Forum for U.S. Studies

A Center for the Transnational Study of the U.S.

Jane Desmond and Virginia Dominguez founded IFUSS in 1995. Desmond is also past President of the International American Studies Association. Dominguez is also past President for the American Anthropological Association. Pictured to the right is an IFUSS Writing Workshop
(from left to right, standing) Soraya Castro Marino, Giorgio Mariani, Jane Desmond, Virginia Dominguez, Nicola Paladin, Alice Balestrino, Jasmin Habib, David Schrag, (seated) Charles Varela.


Virtual Book Launch: Cultures of Populism: Institutions, Practices, and Resistance

We are pleased to share this news of an upcoming event from one of our partners — The African Center for the Study of the United States at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa:

For more information, please click here.

— IFUSS Roundtable @ Illinois EU Studies Conference —

“The Sustainability of Democracies: Transcontinental and Transcultural Perspectives” is a roundtable presenting an interdisciplinary and transnational discussion on the themes of democracy and its sustainability in the 21st century, with a particular focus on its literary, cultural, and socio-political articulations. Join us on Zoom on Thursday, April 21, 9-11 am. For more info, please click here


Virginia R. Dominguez, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign


Ali Dehdarirad, University of Rome Sapienza, Italy

Adam Levin, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Donatella Izzo, University of Naples L’Orientale, Italy

Giorgio Mariani, University of Rome, Sapienza, Italy

Merle Williams, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

New Virtual Fellows, Spring 22

Dr. Rajlakshmi Kanjilal. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, India. See also: Rajlakshmi Kanjilal Profile

Dr. Andrea Petitt. Uppsala University, Sweden. See also: Andrea Petitt Profile

Zineb Rabouj. University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fes, Morocco. See also: Zineb Rabouj Profile

Virtual Fellows, Spring 22

Dr. Ali Dehdarirad. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Ali Dehdarirad Profile

Prof. Donatella Izzo. University of Naples, “L’Orientale”, Italy. See also: Donatella Izzo Profile

Dr. Adam Levin. University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. See also: Adam Levin Profile

Prof. Giorgio Mariani. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Giorgio Mariani Profile

Prof. Merle Williams. University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. See also: Merle Williams Profile

In-Person Visiting

Pasquale Concilio, MA student at the University of Naples,”L’Orientale,” from November 15 to December 13, 2021

CALL FOR BOOK PROPOSALS: Global Studies of the United States Series

We invite your queries and proposals for our “Global Studies of the United States” IFUSS book Series with the University of Illinois Press.  We publish innovative work across the disciplines featuring the work of specialists on various aspects of US cultures whose professional work is embedded in intellectual communities outside the US and who feature a transnational approach.
Please visit for full details.

“Fragile Democracies. Ethnic Violence, Xenophobia and Genocide”

Please join us for a webinar co-sponsored with the “African Center for the Study of the United States,” University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, the “Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre,” the University of Sussex, and the Uppsala University.

Tuesday, November 2 at 12pm (Illinois Time).

For more details and to register, please open this flyer: Fragile Democracies Invitation 

The new issue of RIAS – Review of International American Studies is here!

Virtual Residencies, Fall 2021

Fulvia-Sarnelli-Profile, University of Messina, Italy.

Giacomo Traina Profile, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.

“Imagining Democracies: Cultures, Transformations, Futures”

June 10, 4.30 pm SAST/ 10.30 am EDT

In collaboration with The African Center for the Study of the United States, the University of Sussex, and the University of Uppsala.

Please join us for the inaugural event of a five-part webinar series examining diverse cultures of democracy in their past, present and future iterations. This inaugural webinar will focus on the future(s) of the US’s democratic institutions: How robust is democracy in the turbulent wake of the Trump Presidency?

To register please click here.

IFUSS Co-Sponsored Panel at the EU Center Conference.

IFUSS fellows Donatella Izzo and Giorgio Mariani presented a panel at the European Union Center Conference focused on teaching US literature in Italy. You can find the recording of the event here

“Moving Dreams through Space and Time: Teaching U.S. Literature in Italy”

Giorgio Mariani, Sapienza Università di Roma: “From the Past to the Present”

Donatella Izzo, Università di Napoli L’Orientale: “From the Present to the Future”

Moderator: Emanuel Rota, Director of the EU Center

IFUSS Virtual Research Residencies, Spring 21

Due to the COVID-19 Crisis, IFUSS had to postpone all the visiting programs scheduled for the Spring and Fall Semester 2020. We are very happy to announce that we will be able to continue our work and to stay connected to our vibrant community of international fellows by shifting to Virtual Research Residencies for the Spring Semester 21. While no virtual residency can replace the dynamism of the in-person exchanges we have provided and valued for so many years, we hope this arrangement will continue to enhance the intellectual life of our campus while offering unique and exceptionally useful opportunities to our colleagues from abroad during this extraordinary period of the pandemic. These residencies are designed to enhance the work of scholars connected with IFUSS through ongoing exchange and collaboration programs. We are very much looking forward to virtually hosting seven fellows from South Africa and Italy over the next months:

IFUSS Virtual Fellows from March 15 to May 15, 2021:

Dr. Ali Dehdarirad. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Ali Dehdarirad Profile

Prof. Donatella Izzo. University of Naples, “L’Orientale”, Italy. See also: Donatella Izzo Profile

Prof. Giorgio Mariani. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Giorgio Mariani Profile

Giacomo Traina. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Giacomo Traina Profile

Prof. Merle Williams. University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. See also: Merle Williams Profile

IFUSS Virtual Fellows from February 1 to March 31, 2021:

Dr. Adam Levin. University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. See also: Adam Levin Profile

Dr. Fulvia Sarnelli. Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. See also: Fulvia Sarnelli Profile

Webinar on U.S. Studies in an International Context

NEW! You can find the recording of the Webinar on U.S. Studies in an International Context here

The webinar’s topic is U.S. Studies in an International Context and the panel brings together scholars from the United States, India, Brazil, and Argentina to discuss how the United States is represented and interpreted in other countries.
Chair: Virginia R. Dominguez (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Speakers: Jane C. Desmond (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Manpreet Kaur Kang (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi), Ana Maria Mauad (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Brazil), Ricardo D. Salvatore (Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires), Richard Cándida Smith (University of California, Berkeley).

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On the occasion of MLK Day, we would like to share with you the recording and transcript of his famous “I have a dream” speech. Enjoy! The speech is available here, through the NPR website.

NYT Video on Reactions from abroad to US voting practices

On Election Day Eve we want to share with you this short video by the New York Times that shows reactions from people abroad to the specifics of US voting practices— and puts them in an international perspective from other democracies.

‘It’s Like You Want to Stop People From Voting’: How U.S. Elections Look Abroad

From gerrymandering to voter roll purges, we showed people around the world how the American system works. It didn’t go well.

Linda K. Kerber to Deliver the 2020 Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture

American Council of Learned Societies

Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of History Emerita, Lecturer in Law at The University of Iowa, will deliver the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture virtually from the College of Law at The University of Iowa the afternoon of Wednesday, October 28, 2020, at 3 pm ET.

Dr. Kerber is one of the leading women’s historians in and of the US, and a former President of US ASA.

To register please visit :…

THE GLOBAL AND ITS WORLDS – A Lecture by Arjun Appadurai
On Oct. 2, at 11am

In this presentation, titled “The Volatile Market for Globalization” and sponsored by the Humanities Research Institute at Illinois and the Illinois Global Institute, Professor Arjun Appadurai – who was on the first board of IFUSS – will address the recent debates about the rebirth of the nation-state in the era of pandemic disease, and about whether globalization is about to be rolled back or marginalized.Professor Appadurai argues that globalization remains irreversible but that the markets dominated by globalization are now facing the resurgence of other models of sovereignty, alliance and identity. We are now entering a new period of volatility in which global norms and strategies are in a deep struggle with the nation-state model on the one hand and planetary anxieties on the other.

More info at:

To register:…/WN_xmnqv6B_RCOYbohevgT1Eg

Being Black in America: UI Chancellor Robert Jones

A powerful, personal statement from our UIUC Chancellor Dr. Robert Jones on “Being Black in America”. You can read the article here

The African Center for the Study of the United States, Webinar Series

IFUSS is happy to share an interesting initiative organized by The African Center for the Study of the United States, University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg: The OLD and NEW AFRICAN DIASPORA NETWORKS: BEFORE and AFTER COVID19 WEBINAR SERIES which will be running until September. A central focus of the webinar series has been interactions between African and African-American communities, as well as African migrants’ experiences of the United States.

The next event “IMAGINED IDENTITIES, BOUNDARIES AND RELATIONS AMONG PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT” will take place on Thursday, July 9th at 3pm (South Africa Time)/ 8am (Central Time). To register, please email Adam Levin at and CC Alternatively, you can also register via this Google form:

For more information, please see the event’s poster here: ACSUS Poster_ June 2020

Prof. Desmond’s Latest Op-Ed is out!

“It’s Time for Silent Fireworks”

Prof. Desmond’s Op-Ed on silent fireworks has just been published on The Hill and can be read here. This article, so timely in terms of debates about setting off fireworks across the nation this year, as celebration and as protest, places the issue in a larger context of effects on children, animals, veterans with PTSD, and so on.

This piece is Prof. Desmond’s fourth and final Op-Ed; a series that resulted from her UIUC Public Voices Fellowship of this year.

IFUSS Endorses “Juneteenth”

IFUSS enthusiastically endorses UIUC statement by Sean C. Garrick, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, on the occasion of “Juneteenth,” that you can read here: Sean Garrick’s Statement on Juneteenth

Juneteenth is gaining propulsion not solely as a day of commemoration in the African-American community but also potentially as a national holiday to recognize the announcement of the end of slavery across the nation.


Dear IFUSS Fellows and Friends,

Greetings to our colleagues and friends around the world. We know that as US specialists many of you are concerned about what is happening in the US with regards to both COVID-19 and the protests erupting over the past few weeks in response to the murder by Minneapolis police of African American George Floyd. We mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others like Michael Brown and Eric Garner who have died at the hands of police in this country where African Americans are killed by police at a rate double that of whites. We mourn too the one hundred and ten thousand USAmericans who have so far lost their lives to Covid-19. Clearly the nation is struggling mightily on many fronts, and I hope that this moment of intersecting crises and activism will result in fundamental, systemic, structural and lasting change—in our policing, in our health system, in our support for and justice for our most vulnerable and disenfranchised populations, so many of whom have lost their lives through police violence or through the ravages of the pandemic, which has hit disproportionately in the African-American and Latinx communities, in Native American communities, and among older Americans.

In this terrible time, it has been heartening not only to see the extent of the activism here at home, but also the protests in solidarity and against local racisms in so many other parts of the world—for example, in Dublin, Warsaw, Rome, London, and many places beyond Europe as well. In Indonesia, for instance, the #BlackLivesMatter has been placed in conversation with Papuan campaigns against racism by human rights activists there with the #PapuanLivesMatter, as reported in the Jakarta Post. We recognize too that this transnational activism comes at a time when many of your countries are dealing with their own substantial losses due to the pandemic. Thank you for your support and your activism and your deep knowledge of the U.S. If you haven’t yet seen it, I want to direct your attention to the statement recently issued by the International American Studies Association, of which I am a Past-President, and in which so many of you are active. We at IFUSS endorse the knowledge, passion, and urgency of this statement, which can be found here.

Many of you have spent time with us in Champaign, Illinois, and have asked how things are here, so I post above a photo of a peaceful protest for racial justice in Champaign, in conjunction with “Black Lives Matter” organizers that took place on Tuesday, June 2nd, after a night that saw some minor looting of stores. More protests have unfolded since then, including one beautifully organized by high school students. All this is happening while many parts of the US are still under pandemic restrictions, with openings just a few days ago in Illinois of public services like dentists and outdoor restaurants.

While the scale of most of these US protests has not yet approached those of the UK and Amsterdam, and Berlin, nor of earlier massive civil rights protests from the late 1960s to 2016, they are growing each day, and are incredibly wide-spread, covering nearly 200 U.S. communities—both large and small cities. Many of these protesters are young, and those older citizens who might normally attend are often sequestered due to COVID 19 limitations, or we would expect even larger crowds. But what is most important, in my opinion, is that these widespread protests against police violence and racism are happening, and that this moment of crisis for so many of our democratic institutions and so many of our populations are both revealed in their failures and re-affirmed in their aspirations as fundamental to our vision of

democracy and justice. There is so much work to do. Thank you for your care, your concern, your support, your deep knowledge of the U.S. IFUSS values your presence and your engagement all the more at this time when the US feels so isolated internationally by its government, but not by its academics who share a sense of community with so many across the globe.

We look forward to speaking with you virtually, soon, and will send info about our ideas for potential cyberspace conversations soon, with the help of our Programming Coordinator Dr. Alice Balestrino, so please keep an eye out for her email, and check for updates on our website and Facebook pages.

With Warm Wishes to all,

Jane Desmond, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and Executive Director, IFUSS

Professor of Anthropology, UIUC, USA

“How Do You Protest in a Pandemic?”

IFUSS Director Jane Desmond on crucial questions for our democracy in this state of crisis.

Have you recently published a piece on life in the pandemic? Share it with us!

From IFUSS Director, Jane Desmond