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The Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies (CRWS) is dedicated to supporting new scholarship on the Right in the United States, Europe, Latin America and other regions of the world over the past hundred years. The Center is especially interested in supporting research that examines the diversity of right-wing movements and their respective emphasis on social and religious issues, nationalism and race, and economic doctrines.

In recent decades, new disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields of study, including women's studies and ethnic studies, have emerged in order to properly examine the issues these social movements brought to the fore. A proliferation of right-wing movements nationally and around the globe since the end of the Cold War suggests the need for academic study of the Right. To properly differentiate newer and older elements of current right-wing movements, this study must be done in historical context. This study must also distinguish past and present movements from one another, determining the key consistencies that justify identifying these groups as the collective entity of ‘the Right.' Using these methods we can better understand the future directions the Right might take.

The Center encourages and nurtures research by publishing research findings, organizing working groups for faculty and graduate students, offering mini-grants to support undergraduate and graduate student research, providing fellowships and training opportunities to Berkeley students, and planning conferences, colloquia, and other public events that bring together leading scholars to engage in comparative and interdisciplinary dialogue on right-wing ideology, politics, and organizational forms and their likely directions in the 21st century.

The Center is committed to an ethic of interdisciplinary, inter-generational, and inclusive research. Faculty join with graduate and undergraduate students to examine the theories, policies and practices of right-wing movements, and researchers draw on a wide range of scholarly perspectives and methods. 

Current And Recently Completed Research Projects

“Francis Shuckhardt, the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, and Traditional Catholicism” - Dr. Larry Rosenthal, CRWS, and Katherine Booska, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice

In 1967, Bishop Francis Shuckhardt founded the Congregation of Mary Immaculate, a traditional Catholic center, which now includes a priesthood, parish school, convent, and church. Adherents of the traditional Latin mass, the Congregation has been important to the development of the traditional Catholic movement in the United States. During the early 1980s, Bishop Shuckhardt made a tour of New Zealand, preaching about the problem of the Second Vatican Council and the promise of a return to ancient Catholic ritual. A collection of Shuckhardt’s papers, publications, and newspaper articles concerning his time in New Zealand has been donated to CRWS and is being processed for further analysis.

"Bob Grant, Conservative Talk Radio Host" - Dr. Larry Rosenthal, CRWS, and Katherine Booska, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice

Bob Grant was one of the early conservative media architects, active from the mid-20th century through the early 2000's. Many view him as partially responsible for the misogynistic, homophobic, and racist beliefs that are pervasive in right-wing media and politics today. A collection of his writings, AV recordings, photos, and more was donated to the Center for Right-Wing Studies and is being inventoried for further analysis.

"Racism, Classism, and Sexism in the Military: The Life of Brigadier General Robert Travis in Social Context" - Dr. Deborah Lustig and Dr. Larry Rosenthal, CRWS, and Skylar De Paul, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice

Brigadier General Robert Travis was an American military officer; Travis Air Force Base was named after him. His World War II diary (he was stationed in England) and a family history provide an opportunity to analyze his life and work in the broader social context and to reassess that life in our social context.

"FBI FOIA Digitization Project" - Dr. Christine Trost, (former) Academic Coordinator, CRWS, and Hollis Potts, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice

This project involves digitizing an extensive collection of materials released by the FBI in response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. This unique and rare collection concerns radical right-wing groups and individuals that the FBI was monitoring. The material includes memos, reports and correspondence, along with newsletters, pamphlets, and booklets. The project is a collaboration between CRWS, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Internet Archive. The materials were collected by Ernie Lazar over the course of more than three decades. Scans of the documents, along with a finding aid, are now available for scholars to access.  

"From the Tea Party to the Alt-Right: Illiberalism Comes to America" - Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal, Chair and Lead Researcher, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies

This is a study of the transformation of the American right wing during the Obama years. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and the presidency by moving U.S. right-wing populism from the free market extremism of the Tea Party to  "America-first" nationalism, an ideological migration the study examines in depth. The analysis deals with the approach-avoidance of the conservative movement and the Republican party toward the Trump phenomenon, the identity politics of the right, Trump's mobilization of the fringe white nationalism of the Alt-Right, and the resonance of the Trump movement with global illiberal zeitgeist.

"Mobilizing the Right: Rare Audio and Visual Recordings Used for Recruitment and Mobilization in the 1960s" - Dr. Christine Trost, (former) Academic Coordinator, CRWS, and Kelly Jones, UC Berkeley Undergraduate Research Apprentice

CRWS was given rare audio and visual recordings used by the John Birch Society to recruit and mobilize individuals in the 1960s.  Some of the materials have been transferred from their original format (3x3” audio tapes, 5x5” audio tapes, 7x7” audio tapes, 14x14” film) to CDs and DVDs. They include recordings of workshops, lectures, films, spot ads, and other educational materials used by the John Birch Society to promote right-wing causes in the 1960s. The project involved listening to/viewing these materials, summarizing their content and key themes, extracting other relevant descriptive information (time, place, speakers, etc.), and developing a finding aid that is available to scholars around the world. Read more about the collection and download the finding aid here.

CRWS 2021-2022 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Elena Amaya, PhD Student, Sociology, "The Policing of Sex Across Racial Boundaries: A Nested Analysis of Nazi Germany"

This project studies the policing of sex across racial boundaries by racially dominant groups (PSRB). I aim to explore what I see as the dynamic multi-faceted nature of PSRB by tracing the evolution of the PSRB during episodes of mass killing during the Holocaust as it captures the full range of the otherization process. By looking at PSRB during mass killing, I can trace the policing of racial boundaries during every stage of the otherization process – from its beginnings which consist of stigmatization to the extremes of the otherization process which took the shape through the destruction of racial minorities.

Matthew Grumbach, PhD Candidate, Sociology, "Fascism in the Expanded Field: Latin Authoritarianisms and the Avant-Garde"

My dissertation examines why authoritarian regimes supported the avant-garde, comparing state patronage and cultural policy in Spain, Italy, and Argentina. Using a Gramscian framework, I explore how the avant-garde was critical to the project of “regressive modernization” by helping authoritarian regimes reconcile tradition with modernity. My analysis also considers other factors that shaped relations with the avant-garde such as the need for these regimes to suppress centripetal nationalisms, neutralize oppositional forces, and compete on the world stage. By moving away from the standard comparisons of fascist Italy and National Socialism and focusing on Latin authoritarianisms, I am able to distill a baroque conception of spiritual revolution that was shared across my cases. My analysis will pay particular attention to traditionally auratic forms of art produced by the avant-garde, exploring how modernist painting and sculpture were mobilized to achieve the spiritual aims of Latin authoritarianism. This research will complicate depictions of authoritarian regimes as parochial or backward-looking, distinguishing their taste for aesthetic innovation so that we might better understand the neo-authoritarianisms of the present. 

William Rathje, PhD Student, Sociology, Diachronic Word Embeddings for Modeling Political Polarization Using Twitter Data

Understanding the ascent of political extremism in the United States requires tracing large-scale shifts in the public's political and normative consciousness and identifying the dynamics of intensifying political polarization and radicalism. Most research to date on political polarization has focused on observational studies of political polarization with social media data, where techniques like word2vec and topic modeling have proven historically valuable in revealing large-scale semantic associations. But understanding the antecedents of political extremism requires understanding diachronic semantic change, a task outside the scope of word2vec. Recent work in computer science has sought to extend word2vec to the problem of diachronic modeling. I apply diachronic word2vec to 1M political Tweets drawn from across a span of thirteen years. I further segment data based on partisan identity by training a supervised classifier to identify political orientation from Twitter authorship information in order to identify differences in how liberals and conservatives describe their own in-groups and out-groups, and how these descriptions change through the rise of polarization and extremism in the United States.

CRWS 2020-2021 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Evan Gong, Undergraduate, German, "Language and Nationalism: The Influence of Johann Gottfried Herder on Central European National Identites"

The story of nationalism in the twentieth century, culminating in the formation of Eastern European nation-states after World War I, is the product of a century-old struggle among the Eastern European peoples to engender their own national identities. My paper, entitled “Language and Nationalism - The Influence of Johann Gottfried Herder on Central European National Identities” seeks to trace the origins of national identities that arose in Central and Eastern Europe in the nineteenth century. The paper will begin with a rigorous analysis of relevant works of Johann Gottfried Herder, an Enlightened German philosopher. Herder first proposed the idea of language as 'the organ of thought' and the concept of a Volk connected through language. Although Herder strongly believed in the use of reason and warned of the folk-mentality, his works nonetheless influenced many nationalist figures. His thought was applied and transformed among his successors as they sought to use his ideas to further their political agendas and quickly took on extreme and racially-exclusive overtones. I will also explore how Herder’s ideas were applied and transformed in practice among those who championed nationalism, first in literary forms, then cultural and social institutions and finally through political movements and bloodshed. I intend to write extensively about the German, Czech, and Yugoslav cases because Herder’s conception of nationhood played a fundamental and direct role in the self-understanding of these national groups. The primary contribution this thesis makes to the study of right-wing movements is that it considers the emergence of right-wing, nationalistic thought first as an intellectual idea that later transforms into a populist movement, rather than simply studying the techniques that populists employ to mobilize people toward their causes. In the German case, it can set the groundwork for better understanding the National-Socialist era under Adolf Hitler. In particular, the type of right-wing thought that I am researching is limited to 19th-century Europe and is specifically tied to the loss of a people’s language.

CRWS 2019-2020 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Anirvan Chowdhury, Ph.D Candidate, Political Science, "How do right-wing parties mobilise women? Theory and evidence from India"

Women constitute half of India’s electorate, yet like in most countries, politics is traditionally seen as a forum for men to participate and articulate interests. The 2014 national election, however, witnessed a remarkable change: more women participated actively in public political spaces by attending party meetings, rallies, and canvassing during election campaigns. Paradoxically, this increase was most pronounced for women who voted for the Hindu nationalist and right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). How is the BJP, a party whose roots lie in religiously conservative ideology that espouses traditional gender norms, able to draw women into political spaces in large numbers? 

I argue that women’s political engagement is a function of how political parties navigate gender dynamics within the household. Women in deeply patriarchal countries are expected to adhere to traditional gender norms, and men often act as gatekeepers to women’s political involvement. Women’s participation can hold significant costs in the form of men’s backlash. However, the BJP’s presence in religious and social spaces, and framing of political work in familial terms de-emphasizes the adversarial nature of women’s political engagement. This circumvents a perceived challenge to traditional notions of acceptable women’s behavior, making it easier for women to enter political spaces.

CRWS 2018-19 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Michel Estefan, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, “The Authoritarian Foundations of the Rule of Law: Autonomy and Organizational Capacity in the Judicial Systems of Mexico and Spain”

It is well-established in the research literature that authoritarianism leaves behind cultural and institutional legacies that make it difficult for countries to develop robust democratic regimes and the rule of law. This insight, however, cannot explain why some countries that experienced authoritarian regimes are more successful than others in building strong and effective judicial systems in the post-authoritarian stage. I answer this question by studying Mexico (1934-2008) and Spain (1939-1978) in comparative-historical perspective. Franco’s right-wing military dictatorship in Spain was a harsher form of authoritarianism than Mexico’s largely left-leaning PRI-regime, with Franco exercising a degree of control over the judiciary unlike anything the PRI ever achieved. As a result, one would expect Spain’s path toward the rule of law to have been more troubled than Mexico’s. And yet, the exact opposite is true. By any measure, the Spanish judicial system is more independent, transparent, and effective than Mexico’s. While Mexico struggles to build a minimally effective judicial system, in Spain the judicial protection of civil and political rights is practically indistinguishable from older, more established democracies. Why? I argue that the key to answering this question lies in understanding the specific mechanisms through which the executive power in each country controlled courts and judges during the authoritarian period. This research makes theoretical contributions to our understanding of the rule of law and the relationship between courts and society during right- and left-wing dictatorships and their aftermath.

Kelly Jones, Undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Studies Field, “From Birchers to Birthers: Understanding the Use of Figurative Language in the Narrative of the John Birch Society”

The use of charged rhetoric and hate speech by contemporary right-wing movements to appeal to potential followers is alarming. Scholars who examine movements have traditionally tried to explain movement expansion from the standpoint of the self-interest hypothesis. However, this hypothesis has been unsuccessful in elucidating why certain political worldviews appeal to some individuals and groups over others, because it does not account for the underlying cognitive mechanisms involved in decision-making. This research aims to reveal the moral-psychological underpinnings of political attitude using the latest techniques in cognitive linguistic analysis. The project systematically maps figurative language found in rare, original audio and video recordings disseminated by the John Birch Society—a right-wing movement which garnered its largest following in the 1960s. The insights gained from this study may help explain how movements use figurative language to appeal to their audience and spread today.

Kevin Kenjar, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociocultural Anthropology, “Linguistic Landscapes and Ideological Horizons: Language and Ideology in Post-Yugoslav Space”

My dissertation research analyzes how signage in public spaces in the former Yugoslavia, in the form of street signs, advertisements, and inscriptions on buildings and monuments, and especially graffiti, forms “linguistic landscapes” in which various groups struggle to have their voices represented in public space, thereby competing with others to make their languages visible. Importantly, these different languages were, until the 1990s, officially considered to be a single language: Serbo-Croatian. It was only in the 1990s, in the course of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and international efforts to establish peace in the region, that the dissolution of Serbo-Croatian into the languages of Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin became official. Often, though not always, each of these languages is considered to “belong” to a particular ethnic group, making their representation in public space a particularly sensitive topic following the bloody battles for territory witnessed in the region. However, the languages are so remarkably similar that it is often difficult, and at times impossible, to tell one from the other when presented with only a bit of text, as is often the case in signs in public spaces. Thus, my project will explore how minute differences, such as of orthography and even color, come to carry significant historical, cultural, and political meanings in the context of public representation, thus making an important contribution to linguistic anthropology, as well as to the study of nationalism, post-socialism, and the burgeoning study of linguistic landscapes.

Hilary Lynd, Ph.D. Candidate, History, “’The Soviet Union is for South Africans a Big Crystal Ball’: The National Question and the Cold War’s End”

This dissertation traces the entangled political and intellectual histories of South Africa and the Soviet Union from the late years of apartheid and socialism, through parallel legitimacy crises and the implosion of the old regimes, and finally to the construction of a new order in each country in the 1990s. The story follows two conjunctures: first, the creation, evolution, and eventual dissolution of left internationalist friendship between the Soviet Union and the South African liberation movement; and, second, the unlikely right internationalist friendship that emerged between elites of post-Soviet Russia and apartheid South Africa. In the years 1989-1992, Russia traded one South Africa (black) for another (white). The basis of the friendship between the Russian and Afrikaner right was a shared commitment to anti-communism and the partition of multi-ethnic societies into ethnically-defined homelands. After decades of sponsoring what it understood to be decolonization abroad, the Soviet Union collapsed amidst what others frequently described as decolonization at home. By discrediting a socialist version of liberation, the Soviet collapse, in turn, narrowed the range of possibilities for what decolonization might mean in South Africa. In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union disintegrated into the Russia Federation and fourteen ethnically-defined sovereign states, and South Africa integrated ethnically-defined homelands into a single, unitary, post-apartheid state. On distant corners of the globe, partition and integration were two proposed solutions to a multiethnic state gone wrong. 

Hugo Enrique Santiago Vazquez, Undergraduate, Legal Studies, “The Politics of Accountability: Operação Lava Jato”

This research studies how the conservative right-wing of Brazil has used the disclosure of Operation Car Wash – a money-laundering investigation which has now exploded into the largest Latin American allegation of corruption – as a political tactic to generate the election of the conservative authoritarian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in 2018. With the exposure of a scandal like Operation Car Wash made available to the public, it could have been predicted Brazil would take the first steps toward becoming a more transparent country. Instead, thousands of Brazilians have gone onto the streets to protest the country for not being transparent in its decisions on who should be convicted for ties to Operation Car Wash, which includes the impeachment of former liberal President Dilma Rousseff and the arrest of Luiz Inácio da Silva Lula, who became barred from running for the presidency again in 2018 despite being the most popular candidate even from prison.  This project seeks to explore how the reveal of Operation Car Wash has been used by the conservative right of Brazil as a political tactic to defuse the momentum and power gained by the left-leaning political Worker’s Party in Brazil over the past two decades. This exploration will be done through two lenses: the media, who used Operation Car Wash as a spectacle to gain momentum against the Worker’s Party and through the country’s politicized judiciary system.

CRWS 2017-18 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Graciela Yvette Duenas, Undergraduate, History, “PAN Women: A Story of Gender, Power, and Politics in Contemporary Mexico”

This project analyzes the participation of urban, middle-class, and elite women in Mexico’s right-of-center National Action Party (PAN), from 1960 to 1980. It focuses on women organized in official female sections of the PAN and in parallel women’s civic organizations that supported it. Although a conservative party with strong ties to the Catholic Church, the PAN since its founding has advocated for women’s suffrage and for their inclusion as party leaders. Based on official PAN periodicals and documents, in addition to published interviews, this project explores the extent to which the PAN successfully incorporated women into the organization. By examining the participation of right-wing women in the PAN, my research seeks to provide new insights into the role of women in the party leadership during a transformative period in which the PAN became a viable electoral contender. It will offer a more nuanced explanation to the link between women and the PAN, one which considers the agency of female militants. In doing so, my research aims to contribute toward broader discussions on the future of women as leaders in conservative political parties.

Pawel Koscielny, PhD Student, History, “Captive Archives: Memory and Populism in Central Europe”

The proposed dissertation research approaches the question of Central European memory politics after 1989 and their connection to the rise of the populist Right by focusing on the educational activities and political entanglements of German, Czech, and Polish ‘memory institutes.’ The memory institutes are custodians of the archives of the defunct state-socialist secret police; they are also responsible for adjudicating political vetting cases, and ‘public education.’ My thesis is that the public mission statements of the institutes – to make the secrets of state socialism public and foster social reconciliation – were not fulfilled, and instead they became ideological state apparatuses. Each manipulated and distorted the memory of state socialism with clear political strategic objectives. In the case of Germany, the Stasi archive functioned to ground the ideology of postmodernist capitalist realism, while in Poland and Czechia the institutes slipped into the orbit of Right parties and proceeded to manufacture Populist ideology.

Tyler Leeds, PhD Student, Sociology, "Gentrification & Identity in the Rural American West"

Can conservative-led community resistance to economic change in the rural American West be understood through the lens of gentrification? As a starting point for this project, I argue that the seemingly humdrum strategies underpinning revitalization are controversial because they concern the extent and content of conservative rural identity. My project will push the study of gentrification into a new context while expanding our understanding of rural civic life and conservative political behavior. As in big cities, the transformation of small communities has forced the political process to mediate between development and the demands of activist constituents. In this mixed-methods case study of two former mill towns, Bend and Prineville, Oregon, I use archival data and ethnographic research. I hypothesize residents will draw on a sense of conservative rural identity that values the social benefits of small town life to criticize “growth for growth’s sake,” thus complicating our perception of rural conservative voters as being “pro-market” at all costs (both communities are represented by Republicans).

Dinorah Sánchez Loza, PhD Candidate, Education, “Race, class and the teaching and learning of citizenship in Ohio”

Schools are charged with not only nurturing academic achievement, but also helping students prepare for civic life. Scholarship exploring the links between schooling and democratic participation, however, exposes “civic opportunity gaps” and finds higher prevalence of these in under-resourced schools, thereby mirroring data in political science that correlates low socioeconomic status with low civic engagement. While these absences in civic learning opportunities are well documented, the manner in which distinct sociopolitical school characteristics differentially shape how students understand and learn their roles as citizens is comparatively less understood. Because the extreme polarization of the U.S.’ political climate is attributed to an exacerbation of persistent and worsening segregation and income inequality, I examine Government classrooms in three racially and economically different high schools in the swing state of Ohio— a predominantly white affluent school in a burgeoning suburb, a predominantly white high-poverty school in a deindustrialized exurb, and a high-poverty predominantly Black urban high school—for one academic year. Utilizing concepts from political theory, sociology, and civic education, this comparative case study interrogates how curriculum, pedagogy, discourses, and the everyday lived experiences within schools intersect with race and class to produce, reinforce, or inhibit particular political identities and practices. Drawing upon observational, interview, and documentary data from students and teachers, I investigate how issues of citizenship, democracy, and politics are taught and learned and how schooling experiences may foster differential levels of understanding, power, and engagement in the public sphere.


CRWS 2016-17 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Christopher Blunda, Doctoral Candidate, History, "Historiography and German Nationalism: The Case of Salvian of Marseille"

The nation state as a political entity is predicated upon the concept of the nation as a transcendent entity, the constituent parts of which are inherently related by language and culture and thus capable of unification within the structure of the state. This conception of nationalism, known as primordialism or perennialism, has its origins in the writings of German romantics such as Herder and Fichte. Through its emphasis on a single national past, it was used to articulate the case for unification as the restoration of a preexistent community sundered by time and circumstance. The existence of a shared past was of particular importance in the German speaking lands of the nineteenth-century, where the regional variation of political forms (the Flickenteppich of the recently dissolved Holy Roman Empire), religion (Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism), and even language (the various Hochdeutsch and Plattdeutsch dialects) still largely determined individual identity and commitments. By focusing on scholarship that treats Salvian of Marseilles, a fifth-century priest from Roman Gaul and an important historical source for the migration period (Völkerwanderung) of Germanic peoples, my research will demonstrate how professional scholarship (Wissenschaft) organized its efforts to describe and, to some extent, to manufacture a shared Germanic past. It will emphasize the close connection between nationalism and historical scholarship.

Craig Johnson, Doctoral Candidate, History, "Thugs and Theology: The Latin American Right and the Second Vatican Council"

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) has an important and well acknowledged place in the history of Latin America in that it opened the door to Liberation Theology and Third Worldsim, movements and ideologies that span the gap between religion and politics and brought theologians together with Marxists, union organizers, rural guerillas, and others fighting what they considered to be worldly oppression. What has gone unacknowledged, however, is the impact of the Council on the Latin American right, those who were left behind by popular understandings of the Council as a moment of liberalization and modernization. My project investigates this new angle on both the Church in modern Latin America and the modern Latin American right - how changes in doctrine affected political theories and participation, and how emerging forms of right wing political mobilization engaged with the changing world of the post-Conciliar Catholic Church. I will accomplish this through an investigation of two political movements in Argentina and Chile, the Movimento Nacionalista Tacuara and the Sociedad Chilena de Defensa de la Tradición Familia y Propiedad, both of which emerged just before the convening of the Council and continued as political movements as its decisions reverberated through Catholicism.

Joseph Ledford, Doctoral Student, History, "The Reagan Revolution Manifested: The Iran-Contra Affair, 1981-1992"

The Iran-Contra affair engulfed the Ronald Reagan administration in a scandal. It resulted from a diversion of funds from arms-for-hostages deals with Iran to the Nicaraguan Contras whom, under the Reagan Doctrine, the United States helped rage war against the Sandinista government. It exposed the administration’s covert operations in Nicaragua and Iran, over which a right-wing private network presided. Historians have detailed the felonious diversion of funds and shown the New Right’s convergence in a vast network that facilitated operations. This scholarship, however, has not adequately addressed Iran-Contra’s significance to Reagan’s foreign policy, the role of executive power, and the New Right. Thus my project explores Iran-Contra as the Reagan Doctrine in practice, investigates the struggles over foreign policy between the executive and legislative branches that underlie the affair, and examines the New Right’s involvement. Utilizing newly available declassified documents form the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, I will argue that Iran-Contra was not simply national security gone awry, but the Reagan Revolution fundamentally in action. The Reagan administration privatized foreign policy to circumvent Congress’s authority. The White House used off-the-books covert operations in Iran and Nicaragua with the assistance of a wide sector of the New Right to “roll back” communism. This project not only recasts the historiography of the Iran-Contra affair but also contributes to our understanding of the New Right’s role in American foreign relations and the role of executive power in the post-Vietnam era.

Shelly Steward, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, "The Moral Meaning of Work in an Age of Insecurity: Narratives of Commitment in the Oil and Gas Industry"

This project examines the experiences of workers in the oil and gas industry, focusing on the generation of moral meaning in the face of work insecurity and wage volatility. Through in-depth interviews with oil and gas workers in North Dakota and Houston, I look at the ways in which people come to understandings of insecurity rooted in global geopolitics, and then come to understand their engagement in precarious labor to be a means of morally responding to that insecurity. Although their job instability remains unchanged, the development of these narratives in the workplace intensifies commitment to industry in the neoliberal era, while also perpetuating particular understandings of global events and politics. The coupling of work experiences and political understandings contributes to understandings of two questions: first, why workers remain committed to jobs that are so unstable, and second, why they hold political ideals that at times run counter to their life experiences.


CRWS 2015-16 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Emine Fidan Elcioglu, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, "Immigration Politics and the Religious Right"

How has the Religious Right’s understanding of immigration shifted from the early 1990s to the late 2000s? Once aligned in their restrictionist position toward immigration, today Focus on the Family has joined a coalition of racially diverse evangelical organizations that advocate for the reduction of immigrant deportability, while the Christian Coalition continues to support more immigration enforcement both in the nation’s interior as well as at its borders. This project will trace how and why these two major national Christian Right organizations diverged on the topic of immigration after 1996.  

Laura Jakli, Doctoral Student, Political Science, "Shameful Preferences and the Far Right in Europe: The Migrant Crisis and the Legitimization of Extremist Identification"

Even as the far right has grown tremendously in recent election cycles across Europe, pollsters have continued to underestimate their performance. The American political behavior literature often cites the Bradley effect to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in elections between white and minority candidates. Although the theoretical framework surrounding this phenomenon is well developed in the American politics literature, it has untapped parallels in the study of Europe’s far right. This project uses survey-experimental research in the form of a priming experiment to determine whether there is a significant difference between subjects’ willingness to identify with the far right when such parties are primed as socially/politically legitimate versus when they are primed as socially/politically illegitimate.

Sunmin Kim, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, "Re-envisioning the Nation: The Transformation of Race in the Dillingham Commission Report (1911)"

This project draws on archival materials concerning the Dillingham Commission Report to examine how the American understanding of race was transformed through immigration in the early twentieth century. Amassing an unprecedented amount of statistical data, the nativists on the Commission attempted to envision a new racial order based on the idea of U.S. as a WASP nation. However, their attempt was met with challenges, not only from the immigrants themselves but also from the nature of the enquiry, which forced them to make compromises and concessions. By tracing this process, I show how race as an idea has mutated and evolved in unexpected ways and how the ideology of racism and nativism shaped such transformation.

Noam Shoked, Doctoral Candidate, Architecture, "At Home in the State of Uncertainty: Settlements in the West Bank, 1967 to the Present"

Since 1967, when it captured the West Bank from Jordan in the Six-Day War, Israel has overseen the construction of hundreds of settlements. Though they began as an esoteric project, mainly associated with a small group of messianic Israelis known as Block of the Faithful, today, settlements house one out of every ten Jewish citizens of Israel, and have become the central divisive political issue in Israeli politics. Instead of seeing the settlements as a mere form of settler-colonialism, this project examines them as a housing project that was developed by multiple right-wing groups and characterized by an ambiguous relation to the state. 


CRWS 2014-15 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Craig Johnson, Doctoral Student, History, "Argentine Ideologues Moving from Left to Right"

This research explores and explains the movement of ideologues from Left to Right in late 19th and early 20th century Argentina. Many scholars have shown the intellectual and ideological origins of the Argentine Right's movements and thinkers, and in so doing they have noted that some of Argentina's most influential right-wing ideologues, such as Leopoldo Lugones, began their political lives on the radical left and then turned to the right. Understanding how and why ideologues such as Lugones made this shift is vital to understanding how right-wing movements functioned.

Jeffrey Vance Martin, Doctoral Student, Geography, "Conflict and Cohabitation: Livestock Producers and Gray Wolves in Central Idaho"

Since the 1995/96 reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho, populations have increased in number and range, moving beyond protected areas into working landscapes. 20 years later, socio-political conflict over wolves has escalated, despite conservation organizations' efforts to promote strategies of coexistence with livestock. Deploying analytical tools from political ecology, this work seeks to explain seemingly non-economic opposition to wolf presence and the obstacles to cohabitation, informing broader debates over wildlife management and coexistence in the 21st century.

Liana Prescott, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, "The Development of Political Identification and Moralization among Berkeley Freshmen"

Through in-depth interviews and a longitudinal survey of a broad cross-section of students, this study examines two questions: First, how do students with different initial views--from those who are strongly liberal to those who are strongly conservative--tend to evolve in their levels of political identification and moralization over the course of an academic year? Second, what kinds of social experiences and perceptions of the social environment seem to intensify political identities and moralized political views, for those on the left, center, or right?  By examining the factors that seem to differentiate between those who move toward an intensified conservative identity and those who do not, this study will increase our understanding of the development of conservative activism. 


CRWS 2013-14 Mini-grant Research Projects

Teofilo Ballve, Doctoral Student, Geography, "Narcos, Rebels and Rural Oligarchs: The Making of Paramilitaries in Colombia"

This project seeks to illuminate the agrarian class relations in northwest Colombia that helped spawn the country's right-wing paramilitary movement. Standard scholarly and journalistic accounts claim that paramilitaries emerged in the 1980s as the product of a seamless alliance in the countryside between an old-guard landed elite and a rising class of drug traffickers. My research suggests that this class alliance between old and new elites was in fact much more fraught and complicated. Rather than gloss over the alliance as given, this project uses in-depth interviews with key local actors involved in--or with a ringside seat to--the paramilitary movement's infancy in order to understand how and why these class schisms were overcome.

Philip Rocco, Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, "Forging a Complex Republic: Political Conflict and the Statutory Origins of American Intergovernmental Relations, 1945-2012"

Conservatives have been pivotal actors in the development of the post-New Deal state. Though they have often framed their political ambitions as "shrinking" the size of government, business groups, cultural conservatives, and constitutional critics on the right have arguably had more influence on the shape of the modern activist state than prior scholarship suggests. This project uses a combination of archival research and quantitative analysis of legislation to narrate the development of conservative attempts to limit the institutional power of federal executive agencies by forcing them to collaborate with sub-national governments to make policy decisions. In doing so, it shows that conservative policy victories in the postwar period have been subterranean but highly consequential.

Hannah Waits, Doctoral Student, History, "Global Gospel, American Politics: American Evangelical Missionaries and the Transnational History of the Culture Wars"

This project examines the expansion of American global mission work and traces the ways that several of the largest missionary organizations grappled with the international and domestic political struggles of the 1960s - 1980s. In this period - as the postcolonial Global South eclipsed the U.S. as the hub of Protestant Christianity's growth and inspired new conversations about imperialism and race, and as the U.S. grappled with the rise of the New Christian Right and conflicts about the politics of sex and gender - how did these transnational religious organizations and their missionaries engage with the global and national debates of their time?


CRWS 2012-13 Mini-grant Research Projects

Mary Hoopes, Doctoral Student, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, "Understanding the Emergence & Diffusion of Recent Restrictive State Laws Regulating Immigration"

This project examines recent attempts by U.S. states to regulate immigration, focusing particularly on the introduction of bills similar to Arizona's SB 1070 law in more than twenty states in less than two years. These laws sought to dramatically expand the scope of state power over immigration. This project explores the factors leading to the emergence of these laws, with a particular focus on the "anti-immigrant" groups that advocated for them, and the interaction between these groups and the relevant legislative actors. It examines the ways in which these groups framed the issues, how and when these groups influenced political actors, and the normative implications of this phenomenon. In considering these questions, this project will also attempt to situate these recent laws within a broader context, exploring the ways in which these laws bear similarities to previous nativist movements in U.S. history.

Heather Melquist, Doctoral Student, Anthropology, "The 'Multisite Church Revolution' in American Evangelicalism"

An increasing number of Protestant churches today are becoming multisite. A multisite church is a single church that meets at multiple locations by recording the worship service in one sanctuary and broadcasting it to congregations of "satellite" churches. While in 1990 there were only ten multisite churches, today the number of multisite churches in American exceeds 5,000. Despite these statistics, little academic work attends to the multisite church model that is "the new normal" to American Evangelicals. Furthermore, no work has been done to understand the relationship between the religious movement and the digital technologies and organizational structures that accompany its growth.  This project will explore the emerging, post-megachurch Evangelicalism, and its implications for the religious and political landscapes of the contemporary United States.

David Tamayo, Doctoral Student, History, "Voluntary Associations and the Politicization of the Mexican Middle Classes, 1940-60"

The middle classes of Mexico are generally regarded as the driving force that brought to an end the dominance of the official post-revolutionary party (the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI) in the presidential elections of 2000. This project explores the processes that led to middle classes developing political identities in the decades prior to the fall of the PRI. It does so by examining the rise and activities of apolitical voluntary associations in Mexico from 1940-1960 in two cities: Puebla and Monterrey.

Gabriel Schwartzman, Undergraduate, "From Left to Right: Stories of Political Transition in Appalachia"

Although West Virginia's governor, both senators, and a vast majority of local officials are Democrats, the state has voted for the Republican presidential candidate since 2000, breaking a nearly unbroken seventy year trend. This year only one county in the Appalachian coalfields voted for Obama, the farthest Right the coalfields have voted since Reagan in 1984. This landslide comes in the midst of rhetoric around an Obama Administration 'War on Coal,' which coal industry press releases cite as cause for recent layoffs and mine closures. This research investigate the narratives that get presented to explain the transition towards the Right. How have Appalachian people explained why they now vote with the Republican presidential candidates, and how do people explain that this shift came in concert with 'pro-coal' mobilizations? This research will use in-depth interviews and geospatial statistics to analyze the political and cultural contexts out of which these narratives have emerged in two coalfield counties that have shifted significantly towards the Right in the last 12 years, and in the only Appalachian coalfield county that has consistently voted Democrat.


CRWS 2011-12 Mini-grant Research Projects

Christopher Chambers-Ju, Doctoral Student, Political Science, "Odd Bedfellows: The Mexican Teachers' Union's Alliance with a Right-Wing Party"

Why did the Mexican teachers' union form an alliance with the PAN, a right-wing party? This research project will analyze the conditions under which labor unions ally with political parties that have a divergent set of policy preferences. Chambers-Ju hypothesizes that the alliance between the Mexican teachers' union and the PAN formed because the union was able and willing to ally with the PAN. The union was able to form this alliance because of the legacy of corporatism, which enabled the union to remain cohesive when shifting to the PAN. It was willing to do so because the union extracted concessions from the right-wing party in exchange for its support. Utilizing a comparative historical analysis of the union's development, this research examines the trade-offs these movements face when they link to voters and interest groups outside of their core-constituency. It explores the dilemmas both the union and the party face, namely, the union faces the risks of cooptation while the right-wing party faces the risks of interest group capture.

Angelo Matteo Caglioti, Doctoral Student, History, "Modernizing Fascism: Agricultural Sciences and Mussolini's African Empire"

This research project aims at contributing to an emerging debate over the relationship between science and Fascism. It advances the hypothesis that it is possible to shed more light on Fascism as a European right-wing movement involved in developmental modernizing programs by exploring the entanglement of life sciences and scientists with fascist totalitarian projects of colonization in colonial settings. In the colonies, which were considered living laboratories, fascist scientists could freely execute unrestrained research according to totalitarian fascist projects. Yet did the fascist regime need science or were the scientists themselves endorsing fascist programs and ideologies of social engineering? Was Fascism really opposed to modern science or is it possible to reveal forms of symbiosis between the regime and the scientific community? In order to provide new insights into these unresolved questions, this project studies three Italian institutes of agrarian research that were directly involved in the Fascist project of colonization in Libya using the methodological lenses of environmental history and history of science and technology.

Cameron McKee, Undergraduate, History and History of Art, "Visual Anxiety: Deviant Gender and Depictions of the Jewish Male During and After the Dreyfus Affair"

The strong anti-Semitism of twentieth century right-wing movements, notably the Nazi and Vichy governments, has been thoroughly considered by historians. Less prevalent in existing historiography is the widespread, systematic anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair in late nineteenth century France. Emerging during the fin-de-siecle in France, the initial fervor surrounding the Dreyfus Affair in 1894 did not dissipate, but grew over the course of the decade, taking on the anxieties surrounding French military degeneration and the even wider anxiety of French masculine degeneration. Supported by contemporary periodicals, literature and images, McKee's study contextualizes the marginalized identities of Jewishness and homosexuality at the end of the nineteenth century and as they specifically related to the imagining of the Dreyfus Affair in the conservative press.

Gabriel Schwartzman, Undergraduate, Geography, "The Appalachian 'Pro-Coal' Movement"

Appalachia has had a long union history as the site of some of the first and most radical labor organizing in the United States. Until the 1980s, labor's influence over this solidly Democratic voting state was extremely strong. Over the course of the following two decades, however, not only did Appalachian electoral politics shift, but the union lost power as more mining companies became strictly anti-union. One contributing factor to this development was increased mechanized strip mining, which decreased the need for workers and made anti-union operations easier today than ever before. The destructive effects of strip-mining sparked a radical environmental justice movement, but as the environmental movement grew in Appalachia, so too did another movement. Beginning in the 2000's, a grassroots 'Pro-Coal' movement began to mobilize against environmental regulation, from local counter-protests to anti-EPA rallies in Washington. This project uses ethnography and open-ended interviews to study the factors that contributed to the emergence of the 'Pro-Coal' movement. 

Agnieszka Smelkowska, Undergraduate, History, "Why Fascism Failed in Interwar Poland"

Like most European states during the interwar period, Poland developed a fascist movement led by a new generation of radicals. These young people were originally associated with the National Party, the principal right-wing political party in Poland, but were effectively purged in the mid-1930s and consequently formed their own political associations. The most important of these was Falanga. Like their ideological relatives in Nazi Germany, Polish fascists appealed to traditional anti-Semitic attitudes and could be expected to gain at least a modest degree of support among the increasingly unemployed intelligentsia and the impoverished working class. Yet Falanga failed in its quest for power. Ignored by mainstream society and ostracized by the government, Falanga disintegrated in the summer of 1939 after an embarrassing electoral performance. While there were likely many factors that explain its demise, this project will examine archival materials in Poland from the interwar period to test the hypothesis that the most important factors were the lack of experience on the part of Falanga leaders, the shift of the Polish ruling party towards the right and, ironically, the entrenched anti-Semitism of Polish society. All of these factors coincided to deprive Falanga of much ideological currency that characterized fascist movements in other countries. 


CRWS 2010-11 Mini-grant Research Projects

Alina Polyakova, Doctoral Student, Sociology, "Right-Wing Politics and Civil Society in Post-Communist Democracies"

Studies of right-wing politics focus almost exclusively on West European countries and attempt to identify the perfect "breeding ground" for the radical right. Such approaches, however, over-generalize from the particularities of the Western experience and fail to take into account the Central and Eastern European (CEE) experience with extreme right-wing parties (ERPs). In general, ERPs have been more successful in Western Europe than in CEE. The relative failure of the right in CEE is particularly surprising given that the region exhibited a set of key preconditions for ERP success: political and economic instability, nationalist sentiments, insecure populations, legacies of authoritarianism, and weak autonomous civil societies. CEE should have been much more likely to experience a right-wing upsurge than Western Europe. This paradox is most evident in Ukraine, a country of extreme post-transition instability, where ERPs have received the lowest level of support in the region. Through a comparative study of two regions in Ukraine, I hypothesize that an ERP's ability to create and maintain effective long-lasting links with civil society organizations determines electoral success or failure. This project challenges current theories of right-wing political movements and re-conceptualizes the relationship between political parties and civic organizations.

Nazanin Shahrokni, Doctoral Student, "Gender Segregated Space: Traversing the 'Public' in Iran"

Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made efforts to segregate the urban space along gender lines. On buses, women are relegated to the back; at the universities, men and women are asked to sit in separate rows; there are women-only parks and hospitals; and soccer stadiums are only open to men. These spatial practices are often lumped under the all-encompassing term "gender segregation," which is considered to be part of the state's larger project of the Islamization of society, allegedly aimed at excluding women from the public sphere. This dissertation focuses on women-only parks, soccer stadiums, buses, and universities as the major sites of segregation in Tehran, and contends that gender-segregated spaces represent different features of the Iranian state's paternalistic stance towards women (i.e., state as the provider, prohibitor, and protector); they operate differently, produce different effects, and engender different modalities of action. By taking into account the variations across these cases, this dissertation complicates the unidimensional theorization of gender segregation, and asks the following questions: What are the mechanisms that the Iranian state uses to produce gender-segregated spaces? How are gender-segregated spaces constructed, lived, and contested? What do variations across these different gender-segregated sites tell us about the logics of the Iranian state, beyond reducing the explanation to "Islamization of society"?

David Tamayo, Doctoral Student, History, "The Conservative Right in Urban Mexico"

The most well-known student movement in Mexico was comprised of left-wing students who in 1968 mounted emphatic popular protests against the post-revolutionary state. Days before the inauguration of the Summer Olympic Games to be celebrated in Mexico City, some 300 students were gunned down by federal troops ending the movement. This infamous and dramatic moment in Mexican history is usually seen as an important step toward the dismantling of the one-party system that occurred, finally, in 2000. However, there were other, more conservative student movements throughout Mexico during the same time. From 1961 onward, the streets of the capital city of the state of Puebla frequently were the stage of protests led by thousands of right-wing students and supporters; many times they clashed violently with left-wing students prompting the federal government to impose martial law. These right-wing student movements can be seen as part of a broader and ubiquitous galvanization of the right in Mexico. This study will examine the various student movements organized in the city of Puebla during the 1960s as a window to analyze the urban Mexican right's political culture. This preliminary research project will serve as a starting point for a broader examination of the conservative right in Mexico from the 1930s to 2000.

Andrina Tran, Undergraduate, History, "'Radicals for Capitalism': Ayn Rand and the Conservative Youth Movement of the 1960s"

During the turbulent 1960s, controversial novelist Ayn Rand became a forceful voice for lost and disaffected youth. Through her seemingly impenetrable philosophy of Objectivism, Rand offered a "round universe" of order, rationality, and certainty for young libertarians who felt that neither liberals nor conservatives fully addressed national issues. This project will center on an undeveloped aspect of Randian scholarship - her therapeutic, almost spiritual, role in the intellectual history of conservative American youth. More specifically, it will consider how Rand's followers attempted to propagate Objectivism within an overwhelmingly liberal campus atmosphere, while also creating their own Randian-inflected subcultures outside the walls of academia. Although contemporary social observers have tended to characterize Objectivists as cult-like in their devotion to Rand, this emphasis obscured the ways in which youth managed to reach beyond Rand's ideas by engaging in political causes which she herself did not endorse. Furthermore, the presence of these subcultures, even on campuses considered hotbeds of leftist protest, testifies to the overlooked underside of the 1960s: the mobilization of forces that would eventually power the Right-wing resurgence of the 1970s and 1980s. Additionally, Rand's libertarian brand of conservatism adds greater depth to our understanding of that contested term, its somewhat paradoxical fusion of religious traditionalism and capitalism; populism and elitism; "respectably" Old Guard and radical "not-so-respectable" Right. Thus, through the lens of youth history, this project aims to illustrate the longevity of the libertarian sensibility not only within the Right-wing firmament, but also within the American psyche.


CRWS 2009-10 Mini-Grant Research Projects

Jackie Bass, Doctoral Student, Political Science, "Word of Faith and the African American Community"

Neal Richardson, Doctoral Student, Political Science, "The Politics of Abundance: Export Agriculture and Conservative Politics in South America"

Nu-Anh Tran, Doctoral Student, History, "Contested Identities: Nationalism in the Republic of Vietnam, 1945-65"

Livier Gutierrez, Undergraduate, Sociology, "The California Minutemen Project Civil Defense Corps"


Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program

Undergraduates may participate in select research projects on issues related to right-wing movements through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. For more information go to


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