Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Remapping the American Left: A History of Radical Discontinuity, James Gregory (Labor Studies Workshare, 3/1/2019)

Posted: 2/15/2019 (Local Events)

ABSTRACT: Based on insights from the Mapping American Social Movements Project, this essay reframes the history of American radicalism by paying close attention to the singular fact that for the last century the left has consisted solely of shifting constellations of social movements without the anchoring presence of a competitive leftwing electoral party.  As a result, the American left has been more discontinuous and more innovative than its counterparts in most countries and operates in different ways. Its organizations come and go, flourishing for a time then withering, only to be replaced at some later point by a new left based in different organizations, often with different demography, geography, and ideological agendas. The essay maps five distinct left constellations over the last century and explores the question of how American radicalism has survived, how it has repeatedly reconstituted itself absent the supportive institutional apparatus of an electoral party.

James Gregory is a Professor of History and former Harry Bridges Chair of Labor Studies at the University of Washington. His research and teaching center on these aspects of 20th century United States history: (1) labor history, particularly the history of American radicalism; (2) regionalism, both the West and the South; (3) race and civil rights history; (4) migration, especially inside the United States.

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Date: 03/01/2019

Time: 12:30-2:00 PM

Location: Smith Hall, Room 306