We invite paper proposals for a workshop on “US Businesses Abroad: Migration, Immigration and Ownership”. The workshop will take place during the the Annual Convention of the French Association for American Studies (AFEA) to be held at the Université de la Rochelle (France), May 27-30, 2015.
If movement and place are central elements in collective representations of America, what can we make of these notions in the context of globalisation? Borders on the American continent and across the globe are constantly challenged by the choices of entrepreneurs, who relocate abroad in search of new opportunities and markets and often live out their choices as full “lifestyle changes” they can write about, to inform others about the successes and pitfalls of exporting one’s business and entrepreneurial culture into foreign environments. Flows of goods, people and ideas issued out of the United States have indeed often acted as the vehicles of all kinds of exceptionalist visions of American identity and power—the American Dream, or the American way of doing business, among others. The growing body of literature on US nationals abroad, now merging with the numerous studies on big and small US businesses operating beyond the official borders of national territory, has been documenting the processes of internationalization, the subtle workings of soft power, and the spread of US values across the globe, for better or for worse. It points to the existence of numerous communities of Americans living, working, and
investing abroad, creating and running small and medium-size businesses, buying and developing property, and often, thanks to new technologies, sharing their experiences and newly-acquired knowledge and know-how with fellow business men and women, as consultants, writers, or bloggers.
This workshop seeks to address the motivations, incentives and projections of American entrepreneurs abroad, the variety of their experiences as business creators and investors, the nature of the economic power they exert in the territories where they choose to settle, and the ways these “pioneers,” as they sometimes call themselves, reflect and build upon their stories as they communicate with potential partners, investors, and clients at home. We wish to discuss the contrast between the fluidity of movement of people and capital with the fixity of identity, values and practices, by focusing on the processes of adaptation, as well as the strategies of resistance, that these businessmen and women develop as they build their new companies, and often their lives, in alien land.
We invite papers in English or French that document the experiences of American entrepreneurs and bridge the gap between business history, organisation studies and cultural history, to address both the business knowledge and the social and cultural representations resulting from adaptation to foreign legal, fiscal, business and work environments. Does this experience of mobility challenge their sense of identity as *American* entrepreneurs? What are the limits of immersion in terms of visibility, accountability and business failure? How do their relationships with local stakeholders relate to exchanges with stakeholders at home? Can one talk about cultural imposition and forms of domination or are change, adaptability and reciprocity relevant key words in this context? Connectivity is one of the great claims of discourses on globalization, but how do migrant entrepreneurs make use of ICT, and can these help bridge the intercultural gap? Can today’s narratives of relocation and living abroad in books, editorials, and blogs, be compared to earlier versions of colonial or imperial living?
Proposals of 500 words accompanied by a short bio should be sent to Agnès Delahaye (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eve Bantman (email@example.com) before December 31, 2014.