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Amy Cooter

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

How do experiences of whiteness and masculinity intersect with political and nationalistic ideologies? 

Our experiences and the groups to which we belong shape our identities. Our race and gender tend to have particularly strong influences on who we are, what values we hold, and our experiences. I aim to understand how masculinity and whiteness are intersecting, lived experiences that shape people's attitudes about nationalism and racial politics in contemporary society. Most recently, I studied how Michigan Militia members understand themselves as a group that lauds an historical moment where white men had a monopoly of social power, but who see themselves as the last line of defense for American values of equality and justice. Understanding how militia men navigate this contradiction yields insights into lower-middle class white men's understanding of race and who is a real American.

I also use discourse analysis to investigate how a different group, a prominent white supremacist organization called WAR conceptualizes Americanism. I analyze the organization's rhetoric before and after the terror attacks of 9/11, and find that WAR does not shift its written slurs or derogatory caricatures to Arabs after 9/11, but instead continues to target both Blacks and Jews. I argue that this overall lack of rhetorical response to 9/11 allows us to better understand the content of WAR's Americanism while showing us how its members feel increasingly disconnected from a nation that continues to inch toward racial equality.