On November 19th we will take a deep dive into the history, myths, practices, and legacies of popular politics and “small-d” democracy in the United States with scholar and public historian Michael Lansing.
The populist tradition is a significant, controversial, and often misunderstood strain of U.S. history. Lansing’s book, Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2015), explores an important example of this tradition. The Nonpartisan League (NPL), a candidate-endorsing political
organization that emerged in the 1910s in the rural Midwest, rural West, and Prairie Provinces, embodied an innovative commitment to people power in formal politics. In North Dakota, where it briefly took over, the NPL established a state-owned bank, a state-owned mill, and a state-owned grain elevator. All three endure today. Despite those innovations, the League has passed almost entirely from our collective memory.
As a public historian, Lansing writes and presents on the complicated legacies of popular politics, linking them to current movements and issues. Most recently, his opinion pieces in MinnPost and the Washington Post explored their connections to the history of racialized policing as well as the recent uprising in Minneapolis.
Michael Lansing completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of Minnesota and is an associate professor of history at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, where he also teaches in the Environmental Studies program. His current book project, Enriched: Industrial Carbohydrates and the Rise of Nutrition Capitalism, is a history of factory-processed grains and the corporate propagation of a political economy that demarcates the way we understand, make, and eat food.
Join us for an interesting, stimulating, and wide-ranging conversation.