Sophie Bjork-James

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Vanderbilt U.

Grant number

Gr. 9776

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Bjork-James, Sophie (Vanderbilt U.) "When the Nazis move next door: Forty years of fighting organized racism in the Pacific Northwest"

SOPHIE BJORK-JAMES, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, was awarded funding in April 2019 to aid research on “When the Nazis Move Next Door: Forty Years of Fighting Organized Racism in the Pacific Northwest.” .By 2042, racial minorities are projected to become a majority of the population in the United States and various anti-democratic movements have emerged to respond to this change. White nationalism was and is a political movement struggling for (rather than against) the Balkanization of an existing multiracial society and has leveraged demographic change to broaden their movement. Since the 1980s, the movement sought to use the disproportionately white demographics of the Pacific Northwest as the foundational space for an ethnically homogenous state, encouraging supporters to move to the region and organizing groups there. Their opponents, self-identified antiracist and civil rights advocates, worked to consolidate cross- racial coalitions. Both white nationalist and civil rights groups sought to influence democratic institutions, either to limit or expand their scope. Through interviews and participant observation, this project investigates a forty-year history of opposition to white nationalism in the northwestern United States to analyze and generalize how advocates of multi-racial democracy employ democratic means to counter authoritarianism and extremism. While many efforts to counter extremism focus on either counter-recruitment strategies or encourage individuals to leave extremist movements, this research uncovers an approach that mobilizes democratic institutions to protect communities from the effects of extremist, anti-democratic movements. This project also investigates what role religion plays in these politics.