Nonconsensual Nationalism in the Age of Trump

Authors: Lorraine Dowler*, Penn State University
Topics: Gender, Ethnicity and Race, Political Geography
Keywords: Nationalism, Care, Vulnerability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The most recent presidential election has unleashed a surge of masculine self-justification, camouflaged as “locker room” or “straight” talk, that is unwavering in its efforts to undermine national accountability for care and responsibility. This type of sovereign masculinity hinges on the nation’s ability to tap into and mobilize nationalisms that enable bullying, boasting about the conquest of women’s bodies, mocking the disabled and dehumanizing non-whites. Still, this masculinity is deeply rooted in a white supremacy that serves to justify racism as realism and misogyny as a social norm. An emphasis on borders, cultural privilege, law and order, and national honor engenders a sovereign masculinity whereby the stranger is no longer limited to someone who is unwarrantedly banned from U.S. national borders. The stranger is also the kneeling NFL player, while the neo-Nazi in Charlottesville is transformed into a familiar, sympathetic and misunderstood patriot. This paper incorporates feminist approaches to hospitality as more than opening one’s home to the stranger, but rather a more complicated understanding of the trust between the host, whether an individual, institution or nation-state, and the stranger that requires care, empathy and understanding. Consequently, in order to move past this nonconsensual nationalism, place-making practices must embody mechanisms for the individual to trust the motivations of the nation as reasonable and unprejudiced. This form of hospitality does not refashion the stranger into a replica of the self, but instead rejoices in difference and embraces strangers as neighbors.

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