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This article explains Donald Trump’s brutal political effectiveness in terms of his white nationalist appeal. It locates the intellectual, popular, and policy imperatives of Trumpism in a new form of racial politics that I am calling white nationalist postracialism. This is a paradoxical politics of twenty-first-century white racial resentment whose proponents seek to do two contradictory things: to reclaim the nation for white Americans while also denying an ideological investment in white supremacy. The article shows how Trump’s excoriation of political correctness, his nostalgia for the post–WWII industrial economy, his use of hand gestures, and his public speaking about race work together to telegraph a white nationalist message to his followers without making them feel that he is, or they are, racist. I end the article by explaining why I think that Donald Trump’s embrace of many white nationalist ideological precepts—if not quite yet of white nationalism as a fully realized political project—makes good political sense in the twenty-first-century United States.


Originally published as: Maskovsky, Jeff. "Toward the Anthropology of White Nationalist Postracialism: Comments Inspired by Hall, Goldstein, and Ingram’s “The Hands of Donald Trump.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory , vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 433-440. doi:



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