Australian academics explain the rise of the Trump era

Scholars from Flinders University have published a book discussing the origins of ‘the Trump era’ and the significant social consequences that affect broader society.

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The book, Trump Studies: Why Citizens Vote Against their Best Interest, attempts to unfold what Trump’s behaviour and attacks on “fake news” mean for the future of universities, research and knowledge from an international perspective.

Written by Flinders University Dean of Graduate Research Professor Tara Brabazon, Professor Steve Redhead and Flinders PhD graduate Runyararo S. Chivaura in Adelaide, South Australia, the book investigates the social change that gave rise to Trump as well as Brexit.

Professor Brabazon said that new fields of philosophical research often emerge in unlikely places.

“The most dynamic, passionate and dangerous knowledge emerges from the margins,” said Prof Brabazon.

“Here in Adelaide we’re at the edge of the world. The separation from what appears to be the powerful cities like London and New York creates a really distinctive and unique viewpoint for this book.”

Professor Brabazon said events like the Trump victory and the Brexit result represent a significant social change deserving careful analysis and broad discussion.

“It is an international book, it’s looking at the current volatility of politics which is an international issue but can also be seen clearly in Australia right now,” said Prof Brabazon.

Trump Studies develops theories to explain the origins of the two “mega and meta events”.

“What those two events have in common is not only the international interest they attracted but also that they were stunning results,” said Prof Brabazon.

“This book asks how did it happen and attempts to make sense of the events. We hope to understand how the aberrant, the confused, the ignorant and the foolish were accepted, validated and valorised.”

The authors explore how and why xenophobia, racism and sexism have influenced contemporary popular culture and politics. Rather than dissecting Trump, Prof Brabazon said the book highlights the need to understand the motivations and behaviours that gave rise to the Trump era.

“We live in an era where ignorance is celebrated,” said Prof Brabazon.

“The subtitle of this book is important. The people who voted for Donald Trump were the white working class in the rustbelt cities. They were most impacted by the Global Financial Crisis, the implosion of the real estate market, and the bail out of the banks. Yet they voted for a reality television star with no experience in government.”

“Similarly, in the UK, the areas that voted for Brexit gained directly from subsidies and grants from the European Union. Yet xenophobia, racism and fear of difference triumphed over self-interest.”

Prof Brabazon co-wrote the book with her late husband Steve Redhead, it was the Flinders University Professor’s final book before he died in early 2018.

The book is available on all major book selling sites in paperback and Kindle versions.

“Steve was very proud of this book, I’m incredibly proud that a book with such international currency has come from Flinders,” said Prof Brabazon.

“Flinders is a powerful international university and we wanted this book to have an impact.”

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