Conference: Racial Democracy, 10 and 11 December 2020

On 10 and 11 December 2020, the RIAS hosted the online conference on "Racial Democracy: Challenges to Civic Democratic Ideals in American History." The conference is co-sponsored by Leiden University and the NWO VIDI Project "Beacons of Freedom."

Civil Rights

This online conference explored both local and national cases throughout US history in which civic democratic ideals were challenged by racial interpretations of democracy and attempts to create or defend what might be referred to as "racial democracies" (a variation of Pierre van den Berghe's concept "herrenvolk democracy" and David Roediger's adaptation "herrenvolk republicanism"). A racial democracy is one that unfairly applies the laws that govern legal and political rights on the basis of race. 

The speakers included some of the best scholars on this topic, including Gary Gerstle (University of Cambridge) and Peter Rose (Stanford University), among others. The papers examined cases such as antebellum northern states' disputes over the applicability of habeas corpus to fugitive slaves, the thwarted citizenship status of free blacks in various states, the failure of democracy in the South during Reconstruction and Jim Crow, recent strategies of voter suppression in minority districts, and the state of race and democracy in the age of Trump.

The program can be found here.