HomeThe American State with and after Trump: (il)legitimate Institutions and Political Process(es)

HomeThe American State with and after Trump: (il)legitimate Institutions and Political Process(es)

The American State with and after Trump: (il)legitimate Institutions and Political Process(es)

L’État américain avec et après Trump : (il)légitimité des institutions et pratique(s) du politique

*  *  *

Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2021


The AFEA (Association française d’études américaines) Annual Conference invites us to reflect on the theme of “Legitimacy, Authority, Canons” in 2022. This workshop is therefore open to contributions on the political, administrative, and institutional record of the Trump presidency, and its legacy on the authority and legitimacy of his successor Joe Biden. In particular, we invite work on the evolution of public policy, institutions, political mobilizations, and political experimentation at all scales of U.S. federalism to discuss the consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency on the American political development.



Despite calls to “drain the swamp” and fight the “Deep State,” Donald Trump has only partially attempted to deconstruct the American Administrative State. Instead, it can be argued that he has “embraced the levers of presidential discretion and power inherent in the modern executive office” (Sidney M. Milkis & Nicholas Jacobs, 2017) and even worked to further entrench executive authority and legitimacy over the other branches of the federal government (Skowronek et al., 2021). The hesitations of the young Biden administration also show how dependent the new President is on his predecessor’s regulatory choices (Doha agreements on the terms of withdrawal from Afghanistan, Title 42 of the United States Code on the deportation of illegal migrants) and appointments (tenured political appointees, permanently understaffed executive departments (Adam Edelman, 2021; Badger et al., 2021)). On some issues that were controversial in the previous mandate, Biden is surprisingly aligned with Donald Trump (Space Force, trade war with China). In this context, this panel would like to welcome contributions that seek to shed light on the administrative and regulatory record of the Trump administration and Joe Biden’s early months as well as the White House’s dependence on a possible Trumpian “pathway” (Pierson, 2004).

Donald Trump draws from a range of anti-state currents, extra-partisan movements and sentiments, and a series of actors striving to reclaim the penetration of the administrative state in American society. Their attempted takeover has been accompanied by attacks on representative democracy (voting rights, election procedures, recognition and certification of election results) that have transformed a debate on the legitimacy and effectiveness of political leaders into a profound critique of institutions. As a result, any political debate in such a divided political environment, on both the right and the left, leads to a conflict around the authority and legitimacy of the State that is “often divorced from factual reality” (Lizza et al., 2021). This panel is thus open to the analysis of these new political discourses and the methods of action and legitimization they deploy. How can we interpret and analyze the Stop the Steal movement, or the unsuccessful but repeated audits of the results of the last presidential election? What are the facets of this general crisis of authority in the American government?

Of course, this conflict should not obscure the diversity of political experiments that have preceded, accompanied, and followed the Trump presidency and that may echo it in some way. We can think of the electoral changes of the last decade (the instant runoff recently adopted in New York and Alaska) or the independent redistricting commissions. In a word, this panel really wants to “analyze American political development as it happens” (Theda Skocpol, 2016) and in particular the extent of the resilience of the American constitutional and administrative system (Skowronek & Orren, 2020), including the networks and systems of actors that constitute them, at a time when some believe the United States is rocked by a profound crisis (Kagan, 2021).


AFEA Annual Meeting - Panel 3. 

University of Bordeaux Montaigne, May 31- June 3 2022

Submission guidelines

500-words proposals and a short biographical statement should be sent to Aurore Portet (aurore.portet@sciencespo-lyon.fr) and Maxime Chervaux (maxime.chervaux@univ- paris8.fr) before 17 January 2022.

Selection committee

  • Aurore Portet, Sciences po Lyon
  • Maxime Chervaux, université Paris 8


Adam Edelman. (2021, April 10). High number of Trump political appointees sought permanent jobs in final year [NBC]. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/high- number-trump-political-appointees-sought-permanent-jobs-final-year-n1262234

Arendt, H. (2006). What is Authority? In Between past and future: Eight exercises in political thought. Penguin Books.

Badger, E., Bui, Q., & Parlapiano, A. (2021, February 1). “The Government Agencies That Became Smaller, and Unhappier, Under Trump.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/01/upshot/trump-effect-government-agencies.html

Gallup. (2007, June 22). Confidence in Institutions. Gallup.Com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/1597/Confidence-Institutions.aspx

Lizza, R., Palmeri, T., Bade, R., & Daniels, E. (2021, September 25). POLITICO Playbook: ‘Audit’ movement gains steam — even after Arizona. POLITICO. https://politi.co/3kG2O6b Pierson, P. (2004). Politics in time: History, institutions, and social analysis. Princeton University Press.

Robert Kagan. (2021, September 23). Opinion | Our constitutional crisis is already here. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/23/robert-kagan- constitutional-crisis/

Sidney M. Milkis & Nicholas Jacobs. (2017). ‘I Alone Can Fix It’ Donald Trump, the Administrative Presidency, and Hazards of Executive-Centered Partisanship. The Forum, 15(3), 583–613. https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/for/15/3/article- p583.xml?language=en

Skowronek, S., Dearborn, J. A., & King, D. S. (2021). Phantoms of a beleaguered republic: The deep state and the unitary executive. Oxford University Press.

Skowronek, S., & Orren, K. (2020). The Adaptability Paradox: Constitutional Resilience and Principles of Good Government in Twenty-First-Century America. Perspectives on Politics, Volume 18(Issue 2), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592719002640

Theda Skocpol. (2016). Analyzing American Political Development as It Happens. In R. M. Valelly, S. Mettler, & R. C. Lieberman (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of American political development. Oxford University Press.


  • Monday, January 17, 2022


  • États-Unis, légitimité, autorité, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, présidence, administration, congrès, politique publique


  • Maxime Chervaux
    courriel : maxime [dot] chervaux [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr
  • Aurore Portet
    courriel : aurore [dot] portet [at] sciencespo-lyon [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Maxime Chervaux
    courriel : maxime [dot] chervaux [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The American State with and after Trump: (il)legitimate Institutions and Political Process(es) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/17qu

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search