Scholars, artists, and writers are invited to submit proposals for presentations at this interdisciplinary conference.
The past is infinitely productive as a deep well of symbolic persuasion. Political actors dip into the well for inspirational tales of heroes and cautionary tales of reprobates and failed experiments. Evocations of the past insinuate messages of belonging, the contours of the polity, values, and leadership.
During the 2016 US presidential campaign, the candidates harnessed public memory to gain support. While Hillary Clinton aligned herself with the suffragists as she aimed to become the country’s first female president nearly a century after women gained the right to vote, Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” stirred up nostalgic visions of hope for white, working-class male prosperity and pride.
Since the election, the historical imagination has been pushed into overdrive, as a highly polarized electorate aims to promote its vision of the nation’s future, often by asserting certain narratives about the past. Examples can be seen in debates about the racism of famous suffragists, the statues of confederate soldiers, a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, “Pocahontas” as a slur, Harriett Tubman’s image on the $20 bill, the flag as a symbol of “our heritage,” “chain migration”and “anchor babies,” whether the country is a “nation of immigrants,” and whether it was “founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”
This conference celebrates the publication of and features work by contributors to the interdisciplinary volume, Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: Gender and Race in the 2016 US Presidential Election (Christine A. Kray, Tamar W. Carroll, and Hinda Mandell, eds., University of Rochester Press, forthcoming October 2018). While the book sits at the heart of the conference, we also call upon scholars, artists and writers to present new works related to the conference themes.
We seek presentations that: analyze recent evocations of the past in national political discourse, offer correctives of such representations, and/or situate contemporary developments in historical context. Possible areas of investigation include (but are not limited to):
- Critical analyses of heritage, tradition, nostalgia, commemoration, and politics
- "Alternative facts" and alternative histories
- The historical role of news media in U.S. politics and charges of "fake news"
- Social media, popular media, and national politics
- Stephen Bannon’s historical vision
- History and nationalism, including the global resurgence of nationalism and the history and contemporary expressions of White nationalism in the U.S.
- Men’s movements and the alt-right
- U.S.-Russia relations
- Policymaking, including environmental, industrial, and trade; "Bring back coal"; "Bring back manufacturing"
- Religious histories and histories of religion in U.S. politics
- Contemporary social movements, including #BlackLivesMatter, #NoDAPL, #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and the Women’s Marches
- Histories of resistance and history-within-resistance; creativity and history in art, craft, dance, and song
- Suffragist history and "pro-life feminism"
- The occupation at Standing Rock and symbols of sovereignty; Right by prior occupation: indigenous sovereignty and Zionism, compared
- Immigration policy and race relations; "genealogical activism" and #ResistanceGenealogy; Rep. Steve King (R-IA): "We cannot restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies."
- Post-election memoirs and public memory of the 2016 presidential election
- The historical significance of women running for election in the 2018 midterms
- The right, the left, and the FBI
- Kanye West on Harriet Tubman and slavery as a "choice"
- Public anthropology, public history, and national politics
Abstracts of 300-500 words should be sent to Christine Kray: email@example.com.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: Sept. 1, 2018
Accepted presenters will be notified by Sept. 15, 2018
Questions for the Conference Organizers?
Christine A. Kray
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Rochester Institute of Technology
Tamar W. Carroll
Department of History
Rochester Institute of Technology