Netherlands American Studies Association

US 2020 Election Chats

The Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS) and NASA are proud to announce a series of video conversations on the current US electoral campaign and the upcoming presidential elections.

RIAS researchers Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere talk with fellow colleagues and experts on US history and American studies and discuss such relevant topics as foreign policy, transatlantic relations, environmental challenges, social movements, and cultural developments.

You can watch all the videos below or on the RIAS YouTube channel.


#1 George Blaustein

The first chat is with NASA president and University of Amsterdam professor George Blaustein. In it, he elegantly explores what it means to teach (in) the Trump era, how the US is still capable of evoking contradictory feelings and interests, and what Joe Biden’s persona might bring to today’s America.


#2 Markha Valenta 

In the second episode of the US 2020 Elections Chats series, RIAS researchers Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere have a conversation with Markha Valenta, an expert on (US) socio-cultural politics and identity and a NASA Board Member. Valenta elaborates on the disjuncture between US politics and society, on the functioning of US democratic institutions, and on the changing (not necessarily declining) role that the US plays in our contemporary world.


#3 Mike Schmidli

“It’s going to be memorable.” In this third conversation, RIAS researchers Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere talk to Dr. Mike Schmidli of Leiden University about the transformation the American political system underwent in the 1970s and 1980s and its contemporary repercussions. Are we witnessing the backlash of the “Reagan revolution”?


#4 Maarten Zwiers

In this week’s episode, Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere talk to NASA board member Maarten Zwiers of the University of Groningen, about US politics, Trump, Biden, and the Green New Deal. He warns against “a tradition of authoritarian patterns” too often denied or dismissed. Please wait till the end, though, as Maarten gave us some reassuring and optimistic thoughts as well.


#5 Eduard van de Bilt and Mathilde Roza

In this fifth conversation Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere talk with fellow Americanists, Eduard van de Bilt (Leiden/Amsterdam) and Mathilde Roza (Nijmegen) about identity politics, the main challenges of the US political system, and the campaign of Mike Charles, an independent candidate whose agenda challenges structural racism and minorities’ exploitation.


#6 Kathryn Roberts and Tim Jelfs

In this next installment, Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere talk to Kathryn Roberts and Tim Jelfs of the University of Groningen about their new research project: podcasts and their role in the contemporary US. We talk about how the podcast phenomenon can help us to understand the current moment in American culture, media, and politics.


#7 Albertine Bloemendal and Jorrit van den Berk

This week, Dario and Cees catch up with Albertine Bloemendal and Jorrit van den Berk of Radboud University Nijmegen, to discuss their research on gratitude in the history of transatlantic relations. After four years of Trump, do Europe and the United States still have reason to be grateful to one another?


#8 Sara Polak

In this eight conversation, Dario Fazzi and Cees Heere catch up with Sara Polak of Leiden University, to talk about Donald Trump as a social media phenomenon. How does Trump’s use of social media help to explain his rise to the presidency, and his strengths — and weaknesses — as a political communicator?



#9 Damian Pargas 

The guest in this installment is RIAS executive director and Leiden University professor, Damian Pargas, who explores the intimate contradictions and structural flaws of the US political system. Does it make sense to worship the US constitution as a landmark document? Is the American government designed to preserve the majority’s will or to shield from it? And what’s the fate of democracy worldwide if the US model – indeed, myth – crumbles?



#10 Giles Scott-Smith

In our last conversation on the US elections, Cees Heere and RIAS Academic Director Giles Scott-Smith talk about the last four years of Trump, the challenges facing US foreign relations, and what to expect from a Biden presidency