guest post: safety pins, awareness ribbons, and the challenges of new symbols

The following is a guest post by Terence E. McDonnell. 


For many Americans, safety pins have suddenly appeared everywhere: Pinned to shirts, posted to Facebook, or worn by celebrities. When I started wearing one a handful of strangers asked “what the heck are these safety pins all about?” This is the challenge of new symbols. Before they can work people need to know what they mean.

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review: “postcolonial thought and social theory” by julian go

Last week, my graduate theory students read Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America. Next week, we’re reading The Souls of Black Folk. When I took graduate social theory (twice!), I didn’t read Du Bois. I didn’t even know I wasn’t reading him; that is, his absence from the syllabus went unremarked. Fast forward a decade or so and, thanks especially to the efforts of Aldon Morris, Du Bois is increasingly treated as a central social theorist, worthy of inclusion on equal terms with the old big three (Marx, Weber, and Durkheim). Reading Julian Go’s new book Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory in the middle of our Du Bois unit proved to be both useful and provocative. If you or someone you know is pondering how to broaden the canon in your theory class – to include Du Bois and then to go beyond his work – Go’s book makes for an interesting call to arms.

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the “not-all-manosphere”: masculinity and the online alt-right


The following is a guest post by John Bailey.

Donald Trump will enter office in 2017, in large part, due to the votes of white men. While the dismissal of his candidacy was a constant refrain for most commentators, Trump’s ascendancy was always treated as inevitable in one space in particular: online communities of far-right white guys.

Trump’s startling victory has provoked some soul-searching about what the internet means for white guys, often using the word radicalization. It’s an apt term, given that Trump’s campaign was built through radical posturing on race (explicitly) and gender (in ways only slightly more coded). But this didn’t start with Trump. The diffuse architecture of identities, communities, and digital techniques that bolstered his campaign has been floating around the untrammeled internet long before they became embodied in the president-elect’s chief strategist. What explains the emergence of this specific form of alt-right masculinity, and why has it become so durable?

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normalization of extremism: steve bannon edition

Here’s NPR story about Steve Bannon’s appointment as Chief Strategist. It’s just one of many that fails to note how extreme Bannon is, or downplays his extremism. Here’s how NPR describes him:

“Meanwhile, the inclusion of Bannon, the former head of the far-right outlet Breitbart News, suggests another direction entirely. Rumored to be have been considered for chief of staff himself, Bannon “would have been the insurgent choice” for the top aide job, Eyder says. He is “known for his no-holds-barred approach to politics and his popularity among the alt-right,” as NPR’s Sarah McCammon reported last week.”

Here’s how they could have described him:

Steve Bannon is a white supremacist, anti-semite, and a domestic abuser.

Not saying those things – instead saying that he’s “far-right” and “insurgent” – is what normalization looks like.

some quick fact checks on the election

The election’s over. Trump won. The GOP won the Senate, and kept the House. That’s all the grim truth. No one fully knows how bad this will be for the next four years and for all the years to come, but we have some educated guesses and it’s bad.

Some of the other claims flying right now – about how this happened, who’s responsible, how we missed this, and so on – are misleading or false. This post isn’t a detailed analysis, it’s just a quick attempt to get everyone on the same page. It’s also my meager attempt to deal with the emotional fallout this morning by doing what academics do best: post-hoc analysis and contemplation.

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what’s next?

There is not a lot of silver lining tonight. But here’s one bit: assuming the projections hold, more Americans voted for Clinton than Trump. We live in a messed up system that denies votes to many (Puerto Ricans, disenfranchised felons, etc.), and disproportionately weights the votes of others (the electoral college). So Clinton loses the Presidency despite winning the most votes. But she did win them. The next four years are going to be awful. I am afraid for what will happen to Muslims, to immigrants, to people of color, to women, to anyone targeted by the immense and unaccountable national security state. Elections have consequences, and this one’s consequences rate to be terrible. I shudder especially to think about what this means for tackling climate change – a problem that gets worse every year we fail to act. But at least we can say that most Americans did not vote for this.

So, to that majority of Americans who did not vote for this: What’s next?

asa 2017 call for papers

**Update: The ASA now has a clear link listed on their website. Visit their website for the most up-to-date information**

Because it wasn’t immediately clear where the ASA’s Call for Papers was when I followed the link the ASA is tweeting, I provide it here. Hopefully someone benefits from having it presented in its typical format rather than having to navigate the submission portal to even consider where you might submit something.