Call for Papers
The return of the Rust Belt and the populist moment
Université de Paris-Est Créteil, June 20-21 2019
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.”
This conference, to be held in June 2019, aims to reexamine the Rust Belt between the midterm elections of November 2018 and the presidential and congressional elections of 2020, where the role of the Rust Belt may again be decisive.
Proposals, about 300 words, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 15, 2018, along with a brief bio / bibliographic introduction.
Organizing committee : Guillaume Poiret (UPEC), François Vergniolle de Chantal (Université Paris Diderot), Lauric Henneton (UVSQ)