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Cap Times Talks: Kathy Cramer (free)

  • High Noon Saloon 701 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)
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UW-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer's insights into "rural consciousness" and her 2016 book The Politics Of Resentment have become as central to the discussion of politics in the Trump era as Hillbilly Elegy. But mercifully, Cramer bases her arguments on diligent and scholarly field work, rather than in J.D. Vance's dangerous sentimentality for the heyday of white power. Cramer's interviews with groups of people who regularly meet in their respective rural towns yields thought-provoking takes on everything from education to land use to the moral-superiority-complex of Madisonians.  She rightly studies rural identity as one factor in the identity politics culture war, avoiding the sloppy shorthand that defines so many parachute-in profiles of so-called Trump country. As she develops her idea of the "rural lens," it's important to remember her own academic lens. To Cramer and her interviewees, small towns are indeed home to rampant sexism and racism, but so are our cities, so why the finger pointing? But one wonders why we shouldn't call bigots what they are, something Cramer grappled with an interview with Scientific American. The interviewer asked, after Kramer describes how Clinton wasn't "warm" enough as a female candidate to appeal to rural voters: "Isn't that just sexism?" Cramer responded, "I'm not using that word, but I guess it is sexism." Hopefully, Capital Times reporter Jessie Opoien, who interviews Cramer at this event, will ask why Cramer doesn't use "that word," when she knows exactly what's going on. —Reid Kurkerewicz

Later Event: January 16
Timecrimes (free)