Reflecting on how we came to name ourselves "AmericanScience" as HSS approaches, I noticed an interesting thing under our "About the FHSA" tab. The submission criteria for the Forum's Publication Prize are that the work be "on a topic in American Science ('American' loosely defined to include the western hemisphere, 'science' conservatively defined to exclude articles focusing on either the 'clinical and social history of medicine' or the 'history of technology')."
"American loosely defined," "science conservatively defined." On the one hand, these criteria are easy to understand (and justify). The looseness of the former accommodates work on Central and South America that has no other group identity in HSS; the rigidness of the latter prevents encroachment from those working on topics (medicine, technology) with their own associations, annual meetings, and opportunities for prizes elsewhere. Definitions reflect their institutions.
On the other hand, though, there's a sense in which this balance of loose and conservative definitions mirrors a wider phenomenon in the field. In the wake of the most dogmatic years of the "transnational turn" – during which one could pick a project for the very sake of its being transnational – there's still a strong emphasis (at least at Princeton) on dissolving national boundaries as one tracks ideas and practices across them. "Why only in X?" is a common query.