April 23, 2020 – 6:30 pm

Gallery Talk: Political Participation and Our Relationship to the Past -- POSTPONED

presented by Allison Anoll, assistant professor of political science, Vanderbilt University

This event has been postponed. 

Upper-Level Galleries
Free to members; admission required for not-yet-members

Political participation is the bedrock of a healthy democracy—the mechanism through which people select their rulers, communicate their preferences, and set the agenda for policymaking. And yet, scholars and pundits alike have noted for decades the rather abysmal rates of political involvement in the United States. On average, only about half of eligible voters show up at the polls for presidential elections, and participation in smaller elections or alternative forms of engagement is even lower. Asking “why do some people participate in politics but not others?” Anoll’s research, which she will share in this talk, uncovers a critical factor orienting Americans toward or away from political activity: their relationship to the past. Using a combination of in-depth interviews, nationwide surveys, and a series of experiments, she finds that who our ancestors are—what we believe they sacrificed for us—fundamentally shapes Americans’ beliefs about civic activism in the present and their likelihood to engage. Furthermore, reflecting the unique history of each racial group in America, beliefs about ancestral sacrifice vary systematically by race, helping to explain why some groups are significantly more likely to engage that others.

Anoll is an assistant professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. She received her PhD in 2016 from Stanford University and her BA from The College of William and Mary in 2009. For nearly ten years, Anoll has worked through her research to better understand why Americans do or do not participate in politics, with a special focus on how racial segregation, social norms, and the carceral state affect political involvement. Her forthcoming book, Calls of Community, won two “best dissertation” awards in 2017, and her work has been published in multiple academic journals. Anoll teaches courses on American politics, police and prisons, race, and political participation at Vanderbilt and has also taught at prisons and rehabilitation centers across the country.



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