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Dr. Jens Temmen

Associate Researcher

I am a postdoctoral researcher in American studies currently associated with the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Beginning in 2020, I will also be a member of the “Young Academy” at the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz. I have a research focus on the study of U.S. imperialism, transpacific studies, Native American studies, critical legal studies, ecocriticism, and postcolonial studies. In August 2019, I successfully defended my PhD thesis in American studies (summa cum laude) as part of my PhD-fellowship with the DFG-funded Research Training Group “Minor Cosmopolitanisms“ at the University of Potsdam. My PhD thesis, which is titled “The Territorialities of U.S. Imperialisms: Conflicting Discourses of Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and Territory in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Legal Texts and Indigenous Life Writing,” analyzes US imperial and Indigenous discourses of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and territoriality in legal and literary narratives in North American and Pacific contexts.

In my postdoctoral project titled “Conceptions of Planetarity and the (Extra)-Terrestrial in Representations of Space Exploration and Colonization in North American Literature and Culture” (wt), I am to explore how the imaginaries of the colonization of alien planets (especially, but not exclusively Mars) in North American literature, visual media, scientific data, popular culture, and the law, also serves as a commentary on the current climate crisis on Earth, as well as on how this crisis propels and challenges conceptions of globalization and planetarity. Based on recent scholarly debates on ecocritical frameworks of the anthropocene, planetarity (Heise), and the extraterrestrial (Latour), my project analyzes how the alleged inevitability and salvational character of a near-future of space colonization obscures the extent and the dystopian realities of our current climate crisis, as well as belies the actual state of technology to tackle either the crisis on Earth or to make a home for humanity on another planet.

Before joining the Research Training Group in Potsdam, I was teaching and research assistant (“Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter”) at the American Studies division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany and the Department of English and American Studies in Potsdam, Germany. In 2016, I was DAAD-funded visiting scholar at the Center for Biographical Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (USA). I have published a number of articles relating to U.S. imperialism in the Pacific and on Hawai’i, discourses of territoriality and legitimacy in the American Southwest, and representations of Mars colonization in contemporary U.S. literature and culture. I am also co-editor of an anthology published with Routledge titled Across Currents: Connections between Atlantic and (Trans)Pacific Studies and co-editor of a forthcoming (2020) special forum of the Journal for Transnational American Studies (JTAS) on “American Territorialities.”

For a complete research profile, please go to:


Dr. Jens Temmen
Josefsstr. 14
55118 Mainz
(Office address)