Laboring for whiteness: The rise of Trumpism and what it tells us about racial and gendered capitalism in the United States

Monday, 27 September, 2021 - 16:00

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This talk explores the ways that whiteness and paternalism work to categorize labor in the 21st century United States. The entry point for this discussion is the rise of Trumpism, which I see as a post-civil rights era form of right-wing corporate authoritarianism explicitly rooted in white nationalism. I analyze the race, gender and class politics of Trumpism, with a particular focus on the interpretive processes that its proponents use as they confront political challenges, work to consolidate and expand their movement, and elaborate an economic vision for the country. Drawing on ethnographic evidence I collected with GC anthropology program graduate student Julian Ross in the far-right blogosphere, I argue that Trump’s economic project was an effort to intervene in the racial and gendered capitalist system to form a petty bourgeois (not working class) patriarchal white nation that right-wing racists see as imperiled by the advent of post-civil rights era liberal policies such as multiculturalism, affirmative action and liberal immigration policies. Their politics represents not just a reactionary critique of neoliberal America, with its attendant racial and gender logics and its “flexible" labor regime. It is also an effort to advance a new form of white supremacist, heater-partriarchal capitalism via new authoritarian politics. This new politics attempts to revalue “middle-class” labor by shoring up its white supremacist and hetero-patriarchal foundations.

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