Rebecca Brückmann, "Massive Resistance and Southern Womanhood: White Women, Class, and Segregation" (U Georgia Press, 2021)


Massive Resistance and Southern Womanhood: White Women, Class, and Segregation (U Georgia Press, 2021) offers a comparative sociocultural and spatial history of white supremacist women involved in massive resistance. The book focuses on segregationist grassroots activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Charleston, South Carolina from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. Dr. Rebecca Brückmann combines theory and detailed case studies to interrogate the “roles, actions, self-understandings, and media representations” of these segregationist women.

Dr. Brückmann argues that these women – motivated by an everyday culture of white supremacy – created performative spaces for their segregationist agitation in the public sphere to legitimize their actions. Unlike other studies of mass resistance that have focused on maternalism, Dr. Brückmann argues that women’s invocation of motherhood was varied and primarily served as a tactical tool to continuously expand these women’s spaces. Her book carefully differentiates the circumstances, tactics, and representations used in the creation of performative spaces by working-class, middle-class, and elite women engaged in massive resistance. Brückmann contrasts the transgressive “street politics” of working-class female activists in Little Rock and New Orleans with the more traditional political actions of segregationist, middle-class, and elite women in Charleston. While these women aligned white supremacist agitation with long-standing experience in conservative women’s clubs (e.g., United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution), working-class women’s groups (who lacked the economic, cultural, and social capital) chose consciously transgressive strategies, including violence, to elicit shock value and create states of emergency to further legitimize their actions and push for white supremacy. Dr. Brückmann’s nuanced work of history uses scholarship from sociology, political science, law, and other relevant disciplines to demonstrate how “interactions between class and status concerns, race, space, and gender shaped these women’s views and actions.”

Dr. Rebecca Brückmann is an Associate Professor of History at Carleton College. Her research and teachings interrogate African American history, the transnational history of the Black Diaspora, Southern US history, White Supremacy, and gender.

Daniela Lavergne assisted with this podcast.

Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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Susan Liebell

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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