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Populism and Race in the Trump Era
Organized by Benjamin McKean and Inés Valdez
From Friday, November 09, 2018
To Saturday, November 10, 2018
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Register here for this event

Conference Statement

Benjamin McKean

Populism seems to have swept the globe, with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency among the most prominent examples of how expectations about politics have recently been upended. This conference will consider the ways political identities have been at the forefront of these populist narratives that have shaped contemporary democracy, with profound implications for national security.

Populists tend to address a “people” that has supposedly been taken advantage of by elites and foreign actors (e.g., China and NATO), is threatened by particular groups (e.g., Muslim, Mexican, and Central American migrants), and whose efforts are not recognized by “ungrateful” groups (such as African-Americans publicly protesting police violence). These claims rebrand social and political problems in terms of security threats and, in doing so, create a particular vision of "real Americans" who are entitled to democratic voice.

Inés Valdez

This phenomenon touches upon important research in political science, sociology, and history on populism, immigration, and race that have not — however — been put into conversation. This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars focused on the question of populism, those theorizing state violence against African Americans, and scholars examining the political theory of migration so that each can benefit from cutting edge research by the others.

Together, scholars at the workshop will critically assess how racial exclusion often figures in populist accounts; interrogate the potential of more democratic forms of populism; and consider how populist impulses can tie race and security.

Confirmed Participants

Paul Apostolidis, Whitman College
Edwina Barvosa, University of California-Santa Barbara
Lisa Disch, University of Michigan
Laura Grattan, Wellesley College
Joseph Lowndes, University Oregon
Ella Myers, University of Utah
Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Haverford College
Jakeet Singh, York University
Lester Spence, Johns Hopkins University
Joseph Winters, Duke University

Conference Schedule

Friday, November 9, 2018

12-12:45 p.m. Lunch

12:45 p.m. Introductions

1-2:30 p.m. Panel I
Laura Grattan (Wellesley College), “Populism, Race, and Radical Imagination: #FeelingtheBern in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter”
Paulina Ochoa Espejo (Haverford College), “‘A People,’ ‘The People,’ and Populism”
Chair: Heather Pool (Denison University)

3-4:30 p.m. Panel II
Joseph Lowndes (University of Oregon), “Can We Have a Left Populism?”
Joseph Winters (Duke University), “Opaque Constellations: Progress, (Anti-Black) Terror, and the Intractable Specter of Fascism”
Chair: Cynthia Burack (The Ohio State University)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

10 a.m.-12 p.m. Panel III
Paul Apostolidis (Whitman College), “Confluences of Right-Wing Populism and Racialized Precarity: A Critical-Popular Analysis”
Edwina Barvosa (University of California at Santa Barbara), “Political Disequilibrium and Extreme Expressions of Racism & White Supremacy: Catalysts for Public Reasoning and Change?”
Benjamin McKean (The Ohio State University), “Populism, Pluralism, and the Ordinary”
Chair: David Watkins (University of Dayton)
12-1 p.m. Lunch

1-2:30 p.m. Panel IV
Ella Myers (University of Utah), “‘‘Feeding their Vanity?’ Du Bois and the Contours of Contemporary U.S. Whiteness”
Inés Valdez, (The Ohio State University), “Populism and Global Affect: The Crisis of Western Internationalism as a Problem of Global Justice”
Chair: Dan Skinner (Ohio University)

3-4:30 p.m. Panel V
Jakeet Singh (York University), “Decolonizing Left Populism”
Lester Spence (Johns Hopkins University), “The Promises and Pitfalls of Populism: Revisiting the Populist Moment’”
Chair: Emma Saunders-Hastings (The Ohio State University)

4:45-5:45 p.m. Closing Session
Chair: Lisa Disch (University of Michigan)

This conference is sponsored by The Ohio State University Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA), Department of Political Science, and Mershon Center for International Security Studies.


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