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Conference to explore Barry Goldwater’s politics, legacy

October 29, 2009

A two-day conference, “Goldwater at 100: His Politics, Ideology, and Legacy,” will bring more than a dozen noted scholars to the Arizona State University campus Nov. 12 and 13.

The conference, being held in celebration of Sen. Barry Goldwater’s 100th birthday, will look at the life and times of Goldwater, one of the towering figures in the history of Phoenix, modern conservatism and 20th century U.S. history.

The conference begins with a free lecture, “The Emerging Republican Minority,” by Rick Perlstein, at 5 p.m. Nov. 12, in Life Sciences Center, E-104, on ASU’s Tempe campus. Perlstein is the author of “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” and “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.”  

On Nov. 13, Pulitzer-Prize nominee Robert Goldberg will speak about the writing of “Barry Goldwater” and the book’s afterlife, beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the ASU University Club, South Room, on the Tempe campus.

Following that presentation, the assembled scholars will discuss many of the groups, political movements and legislative reform initiatives that Goldwater inspired and, in turn, motivated him and shaped his political career.

They will explore Goldwater’s relationship with Mexican Americans, Arizona Republicans, conservationists, seniors, Southern politicians, journalists, women Party activists and other figures within the Republican Party.  

Guest scholars and panelists representing institutions nationwide include Michael Bowen, Bob Graham Center for Public Service, University of Florida; Joseph Crespino, Emory University; Brian Allen Drake, University of Georgia; Laura Jane Gifford, George Fox University; Robert Alan Goldberg, University of Utah; Nicole R. Hemmer, Columbia University; Jason LaBau, University of Southern California; Micaela Anne Larkin, Yale University; Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara; William Link, University of Florida; Drew T. Meyers, University of Michigan; Andrew Needham, New York University; Michelle Nickerson, University of Texas at Dallas; Jeff Roche, College of Wooster; Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, Claremont McKenna College; and Perlstein.

According to organizers of the conference, “Goldwater's 100th birthday marks the ideal moment for a broad interrogation of the Arizonan. In the last five years, the Arizona Historical Foundation's policy to open Goldwater’s political and personal papers during processing and cataloging combined with seismic shifts in American politics and the broad conservative movement have made a reassessment of Goldwater’s life, political career and impact on 20th century American history not only possible, but imperative.”

They add, “This conference does not seek to memorialize Goldwater per se, or to focus on his 1964 run for president. Rather, it is a unique forum featuring young scholars drawn to a man and an era that deserve further academic inquiry. The conference features new scholarship and new perspectives on U.S. cultural, political, economic and social history.”

Conference registration is required. Students with ID are admitted free. Charge to the general public is $25. For more information, call the Arizona Historical Foundation, (480) 965-3283, or go to

Further information is available by e-mailing Linda Whitaker,; Susan Irwin,; or Elizabeth Tandy Shermer,