Gender, Resurgent Nationalism & Masculinist Politics in the US & Europe

Dr. Jennifer Thomson, a lecturer in comparative politics focusing on gender, post-conflict societies and devolution in the United Kingdom.

The annual 2018 APSA conference in Boston brought together leading scholars in gender and politics across the Atlantic in a half-day short-course prior to the main event itself. Thanks to a grant from the PSA-APSA Special Engagement Fund, the PSA Women and Politics Specialist Group and the APSA Organised Section on Women and Politics Research were able to hold a half-day course on ‘Gender, Resurgent Nationalism and Masculinist Politics in the US and Europe’. This course provided space for some burgeoning ideas on gender, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to be discussed and debated, in addition to providing a key networking opportunity for scholars of gender and politics. We were particularly happy to be able to provide support for early-career researchers in the sub-discipline to attend.

The short course was opened by Professor Angie Wilson, Chair of the PSA and specialist in American right-wing politics. She provided an overview of her career in political science so far, the challenges she felt still need to be overcome in ensuring greater diversity of faculty representation, and the successes she has seen in her time teaching politics in the UK.

The short course was a great opportunity for scholars working in this area to receive feedback on some initial ideas, and to bring together thinking on similar subjects across the Atlantic.

We then heard from two panels on the UK and the US respectively. UK scholars focused on Brexit and the often unspoken gendered implications within the on-going negotiations. Dr Peter Allen and Dr Sophie Whiting, both from the University of Bath, spoke about the particularly masculinist politics that have been seen in debates around Brexit in the UK, and how these have related to the thorny issue of Northern Ireland. Jess Smith of Birkbeck University then spoke on leadership and gender in the Brexit context, and the ways in which Theresa May’s Premiership has been portrayed in the British media.

A discussion of Trump and the US context followed, with Professor Melissa Deckman of Washington College dissecting voting behaviour and gender following the 2016 election. Professor Angie Wilson then spoke on the Christian Right in the context of Trump. We were also very honoured to hear from the internationally renowned scholar Professor Cynthia Enloe, who spoke passionately about global misogyny and was a huge inspiration to all present!

We closed with a final panel that considered the difficulties of conducting gendered research during a politics of backlash. Professor Georgina Waylen of the University of Manchester spoke on conducting research into gender and institutions. Dr. Shan-Jan Sarah Liu of the University of Newcastle discussed the comparative work she has done researching women in institutions in the UK & Asia. Professor Christina Xydias of Clarkson University presented her research on gender and the AfD in Germany. Finally, Professor Denise Walsh of the University of Virginia spoke about researching the concept of backlash in the context of women’s political participation in the Global South.

The short course was a great opportunity for scholars working in this area to receive feedback on some initial ideas, and to bring together thinking on similar subjects across the Atlantic. It provided a key opportunity for gender and politics academics to meet, and has already produced new global connections in the discipline. Many thanks from all to the PSA and APSA for their support.

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