Surplus White Nationalism and GOP Climate Obstruction

Laura Pulido 

February 12, 2024

Event Description

In this talk Laura Pulido considers the relationship between U.S. white nationalism and the Republican Party’s (GOP) record of climate obstruction. Despite having produced a disproportionate share of historic green-house gas, the U.S. has been a leader in climate denial and slow to embrace meaningful climate action. Though the fossil fuel industry’s campaign of disinformation has been well-documented, less understood are the politicians who do its bidding. While many assume the state is simply implementing the desires of the fossil fuel industry, what is called regulatory capture, this assumes a nonracial state. Pulido argues that regulatory capture does not fully explain the current GOP’s commitment to blocking climate action. Instead, Pulido suggests that “surplus” white nationalism has contributed to both climate denial and obstruction. She defines surplus white nationalism as the excessive energy and power of white nationalism that cannot be contained or selectively controlled. Because it spills over onto seemingly unrelated areas with sometimes unanticipated consequence - it is surplus. By focusing on three historical moments - the Tea Party movement (2009-15), the Trump Presidency (2015-19), and the War on Wokeness (2021-present), Pulido shows how surplus white nationalism impacts climate obstruction.


Laura Pulido, Collins Chair and Professor, Indigenous, Race & Ethnic Studies and Geography, University of Oregon.


Latin American and Caribbean Socionatures Working Group, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies, Berkeley Black Geographies Project, Geography Department, Rausser College for Natural Resources, Climate Equity and Environmental Justice Roundtable