My research interests broadly concern conservative organizations’ integration into contemporary society, including interactions their with the State and their rhetoric and organizational strategies. My most recent publication (“Neo-Nazi Nationalism” in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism) uses discourse analysis to investigate how white supremacists conceptualize Americanism, and analyzes their rhetoric before and after the terror attacks of 911.
My dissertation, “Race, Gender, and Nationalism in the Michigan Militia,” was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and examines nationalism’s impact on militia members’ acceptance of other groups with increasing social power. My data are more than 300 hours of ethnographic fieldwork collected from 2008-2011 at Michigan Militia meetings, trainings, and camping events, along with 40 in-depth, open-ended interviews with members, countless informal conversations with dozens of other members and their associates, posts from internet forms, and archival materials. My work engages race, gender, and nationalism literatures (and their intersections) as I analyze how militia members evince support for equality and inclusion even as they are part of a group that lauds an historical mythos where white men had exclusive social power. I find that militia members often genuinely try to be egalitarian, but many ultimately fail. When and how they fail is instructive for discerning how lower-middle class, white American men understand continuing racism and other social problems. I give particular attention to militia members’ conceptions of masculinity and to their responses to Michigan’s Black and Muslim populations. Analyzing how people who are strongly invested in a mythic national identity understand their place in a changing world is important for understanding American political culture, the lived experiences and egalitarian efforts of lower-middle-class, white men, and what, if any, threats groups like militias pose to other citizens.