Nostalgia and precarious placemaking in southern poultry worlds: Immigration, labour, and community building in rural northern Alabama

17 March 2018
Paper

How do white and Latinx community members in a rural Alabama town manage the tension between national and local, past and present discourses around race, community and belonging?

Counteracting the forces that helped support the rise of authoritarian populism means working against the nostalgic construction of the nation that the movements center on. This necessitates recognizing that “the people” imagined by the liberal secular project is not hegemonic but just “a we like any other", and that the new rendering of the nation by authoritarian populism must be combated. Any emancipatory politics must reckon with this project and though this may have a higher-level strat egic solution, a redefinition begins with simplest acts of resistance — even ones that are unintentional. Demonstrations that reveal marginalized communities can “alter our perceptions about who the people are, [by asserting] fundamental freedoms that belong to bodies in their plurality” (Butler 2017). Public expressions of multiculturalism defy the whiteness of nation and challenge the existence of the white enclave imagined by right wing movements. Though these major projects rely on unconscious tactical resistance, they contain a rare possibility of counteracting the dangerous nostalgic machinations inherent in the current spread of authoritarian populism.

This paper was presented at the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) 2018 Conference: "Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World"