On Tuesday, the Center for the Study of American Democracy hosted Colin Woodard, an American author and journalist, to give a presentation titled, “American Nations: The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America and How They’ve Shaped Our World.”
Woodard is known for his 2011 book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, which has been translated into dozens of languages. In addition to having authored several award-winning books, Woodard is currently the Director of the Nationhood Lab at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. He earned a B.A. in History at Tufts University and an M.A. in International Relations at the University of Chicago.
Throughout his presentation, Woodard referred to American Nations and explained how North America has been divided into eleven regions: The Left Coast, El Norte, The Far West, The Midlands, Greater Appalachia, Deep South, New France, First Nation Tidewater, New Netherland and Yankeedom. After establishing these divisions and the cultural and social framework for each, Woodard dove into the influence of informal regional divisions on American politics.
In American Nations, Woodard emphasized that American diversity in politics and values stems from variety in the region’s founders, who ranged from English Quakers in the Midlands to Indigenous peoples in First Nation. During his lecture, Woodard went into depth about a series of issues, such as obesity, diabetes, COVID-19 deaths and vaccinations, credit scores and especially presidential elections, and how this varying diversity in regional founders has impacted these regions. For example, Woodard showed the correlation between regions of the U.S. and vaccination rate: Those in the Northeast and West Coast had higher vaccination rates along with lower COVID-19 related deaths. He also showed the population in the South had higher rates for obesity and diabetes.
Woodard showed a U.S. map of states and their political leanings during the 2012 and 2016 elections to demonstrate the regular political similarities across regions, rather than individual states. In particular, he illustrated that each region appeared to agree on specific political issues like vaccinations. From the electoral data to his discussion of the COVID-19 vaccine, each component of the lecture supported Woodard’s overarching point: ‘American’ values sharply vary between each region of North America.