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The Sovereignty of the Family: The Convergence of Religious, Free-Market, and Anti-Feminist Conservatism in the Early Twentieth Century United States
WhenTuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, 1:30 – 3 p.m.
Campus roomGowen Hall room 1A
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsComparative Religion Program,… Political Science Department,… Mark Alan Smith,

Julia Bowes, Assistant Professor of History, The University of Hong Kong.  This talk explores the development of a gendered anti-statist politics rooted in the defence of the sovereign patriarchal family in the early twentieth century by looking at the campaign mounted against the adoption of a federal child labor amendment in the 1920s as a case study. The proposed constitutional amendment would have granted the federal government unprecedented powers over the family and industry alike. Analyzing the anti-ratification campaign of the Sentinels of the Republic, a conservative citizen’s lobby with strong ties to industry, the talk will demonstrate how ideas about the sovereignty of the patriarchal family were used to unite a broad coalition in opposition to the amendment, including conservative lawyers, religious organisations, anti-feminist activists, and free-market ideologues. Tracing the Sentinels’ anti-statist activism and networks into the New Deal era, the talk emphasizes the importance of deeply rooted gendered ideas about individual rights, the family, and the state to the emergence of free-market conservatism in the twentieth century.

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