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The Return of the Rust Belt and the Populist Moment

Le retour de la « Rust Belt » à l’heure des populismes 

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Published on Friday, June 14, 2019 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

This conference considers the “Rust Belt” through various thematic, methodological and disciplinary angles. The Rust Belt is a rather loose name for the deindustrialized region around the Great Lakes, encompassing all or parts of the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania as well as several northwestern counties of New York state.

Announcement

Argument

This conference considers the “Rust Belt” through various thematic, methodological and disciplinary angles. The Rust Belt is a rather loose name for the deindustrialized region around the Great Lakes, encompassing all or parts of the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania as well as several northwestern counties of New York state.

Because of its mining and industrial past, this region used to be a solid Democratic stronghold, clearly out of the reach of Republicans, at least at the level of presidential elections. Its demographic decline after World War 2 led to a lesser weight in the electoral college and it seemed to have lost any decisive role in nationwide ballots. However, the working class has increasingly drifted away from the Rooseveltian coalition and poor people have seemingly been voting against their economic interest. Moreover, the sense of dispossession and abandonment has contributed to boost populism, as the Trump vote as well as the Brexit vote have illustrated.

In the United States, the 2016 presidential election has unquestionably put the Rust Belt back on the electoral map and has reawakened long-gone media interest in it. Indeed, small majorities in a few Rust Belt states enabled Donald Trump to carry those states and their electors and gave him a majority in the Electoral college, despite trailing Mrs Clinton in the popular vote.

Stanley Greenberg, who identified the “Reagan Democrats” in the 1980s, interviewed the “Trump Democrats” in 2016 - those voters who used to cast ballots for Democratic candidates but chose to support Trump this time. Other investigations have shown that voters in such Midwestern states as Indiana as well as in the Rust Belt could vote for a local Democrat as well as Donald Trump for President on the very same day.

More recently, in March 2018, the victory of “blue dog” Democrat Conor Lamb in a Pennsylvania district that Trump had carried easily in 2016 reignited the debate around the Democrats’ ability to reconquer what had come to be known as “Trump country.”

If populism is not to be found exclusively in deindustrialized areas such as the Rust Belt, it remains clear that “Rust Belts” are fertile soil for populist movements on the left as much as on the right of the political spectrum.

It is in this context of rising populism in the United States and in Europe that the Rust Belt becomes (again) an invaluable object of interest in the political and cultural landscape in the United States. Yet it is also a region that has been undergoing tremendous (urban) renewal, whose economy has adjusted to the new Millennium, far from the Manichean stereotypes of decay and a region that had been long been ignored by journalists and politicians as opposed to the Sun Belt, from California and Texas to Florida and Virginia.

Programme

20 Juin

Université Paris Est - Créteil

9h00 – Accueil (salles à préciser)

9h30 – Atelier comparatif

Président: Justin Gest (George Mason University, Etats-Unis)

  • Olivier Esteves  Université de Lille Of Rust and Race: de-industrialisation and the ethno-racial dynamics of Cleveland (Oh.) and Bradford (West Yorkshire U.K.)”
  • Pierre Baudry  Université de Tours “Deindustrialization and the origins of current populism in Germany and the United States: A Transatlantic Perspective”
  • Michael McQuarrie  London School of Economics, U.K. “Insiders and Invaders: Logistical Capitalism and Community Transformation”

11h00 – Pause café

11h30 – Conférence plénière Justin Gest George Mason University, Etats-Unis “The Ever-Expanding Rust Belt: Nostalgia, Backlash, and Populism”

12h30 - Déjeuner

14h00 - Atelier race and justice

Présidente: Caroline Rolland-Diamond (Univ. Paris-Ouest-Nanterre)

  • Eva Rüskamp Universität Freiburg, Allemagne “Framing systemic injustice as "culture in crisis": Race, Class and the Rural Health Problem”
  • Errol A. Henderson Penn State University, Etats-Unis “Rust Belt Justice in Movements led by Women Who Refuse to Choose to Grieve…Only”

15h30 Pause Café

16h00 – Atelier politique

Président: Michael McQuarrie (London School of Economics, UK)

  • Olivier Richomme Université Lyon 2  “Redistricting the Rust Belt: Partisan Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania from Vieth (2004) to League of Women Voter (2018)”
  • Frédérick Gagnon Chaire Raoul Dandurand, UQAM, Canada “Rust Belt ou Trump Belt? Les retournements électoraux de 2016 et 2018 au Midwest et qu’ils nous disent sur 2020”
  • Jean-Baptiste Velut Université Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle “The real roots of American carnage: US trade dislocation and labor adjustment in comparative perspective”

18h00 inauguration de l’exposition photographique « Portraits de la Rust Belt » et cocktail dinatoire

L’exposition « Portraits de la Rust Belt » est le fruit du travail de Mickael Bougouin, photographe, avec l’assistance de Guillaume Poiret qui a choisi les lieux et thèmes des clichés.

Cette exposition se propose en quelques photographies de dresser un portrait nuancé, subjectif et partiel d’une région en mutation politique, économique et sociale. Paysages urbains et ruraux répondent à des portraits d’habitants pour mieux cerner la complexité et parfois la contradiction des processus de recomposition en cours.

21 juin

Université Paris Est - Créteil

  • 9h00 - Accueil (salles à préciser)
  • 9h30 – Conférence plénière John C. Austin Directeur du Michigan Economic Center, Nonresident Senior Fellow à la Brookings Institution, A Tale of Two Rust Belts: How Economic Change Colors the Politics of America's Heart.”
  • 10h30 – Pause café

11h00 – Atelier representations

Président: Sébastien Lefait (Université Paris 8)

  • Monika Müller Universität Bochum, Allemagne,
  • Dorothea Fischer-Hornung Universität Heidelberg, Allemagne “Greening, Arting, and Braining Rustbelts: Visions of the Future Photography Project”
  • Diane Bénédic-Meyer Université de Strasbourg “Les séries américaines à l’écoute de la Rust Belt: la perte des repères politiques (2002-2018)”

12h30 - Déjeuner

14h30 - Atelier santé publique

Présidente: Ivana Obradovic (OFDT - Observatoire français des drogues et toxicomanies)

  • Elvira Cabeza Sanchez Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Espagne “MAGA High: When the Populist and Opioid Epidemic come together”
  • Nicolle Herzog Université de Tours “Deaths of Despair: A case study of health and political outcomes in two Pennsylvanian counties since 2016”  
  • Benjamin Pauli Kettering University, Etats-Unis “Flint's Water and the Urban Crisis”

Places

  • Bâtiment i - Campus Centre - 61 avenue du Général de Gaulle
    Créteil, France (94)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Friday, June 21, 2019

Keywords

  • Rustbelt, political science, geography, opiods, white working class, trumpism

Contact(s)

  • De Chantal François
    courriel : fdechantal [at] univ-paris-diderot [dot] fr
  • Henneton Lauric
    courriel : lauric [dot] henneton [at] uvsq [dot] fr
  • Poiret Guillaume
    courriel : guillaume [dot] poiret [at] u-pec [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • François De Chantal
    courriel : fdechantal [at] univ-paris-diderot [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« The Return of the Rust Belt and the Populist Moment », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, June 14, 2019, https://calenda.org/637569

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