Thursday, January 20, 2011

At Common-place: Connolly on Transnationality in Early American History; Chu Reviews LaCroix, “The Ideological Origins of American Federalism”

For those interested in some of the questions about international history that I raised in an earlier post, the January issue of Common-place features an article by Brian Connolly calling for critical analysis of transnationality in the history of early America. In, “Intimate Atlantics” Connolly asks: If we turn to the transnational as a critical frame in order to expose the fragility of the nation, where do we turn to the expose the fragility of the transnational?” He writes:

The desire for ever larger geographic scales as arbiters of historical truth should be apparent to anyone working in early American studies over the last two decades. The scholar working on a community, town, or city study is questioned on its relevance to the region. Those working on regions or towns are asked about their relevance to the nation. Those working on the nation find themselves fielding questions about the Atlantic, the hemispheric, or the transnational. Those working on the Atlantic, hemispheric, or transnational arenas are questioned on the scale of the global. Those working on the global … well, I guess the astronomical is next. To put it more pointedly, would moving forward to the universe be a return to the universal?

Common-place also has a review of Alison LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism by Jonathan Chu. Chu writes:

The Ideological Origins of American Federalism is an important work that points out the necessity of seeing Revolutionary developments in a larger context. In so doing it also makes three important specific contributions.It demonstrates how the arguments supporting opposition to British tax policies evolved into ideological and constitutional innovation. Second, in assessing the ideological legacies of the American Revolution, it compels us to reconsider Federalist history—our tendency to assume that the Constitution was simply the repudiation of a set of failed structures and intellectual paradigms and was the starting point for subsequent constitutional analysis. And third, like Jack Rakove's Original Meanings, it should give most serious pause to those who assume that the original intentions of the founders are easily discerned.

Read the rest of the review here.