Phillip A. Neel, HINTERLAND

We spend the hour with Phillip A. Neel talking about his book Hinterland: America’s New Landscape Of Class And Conflict. It’s about how America’s class structure is recomposing itself in new geographies of race, poverty, and production.

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Phillip A. Neel

Driven by an ever-expanding socioeconomic crisis (now exacerbated by the covid19 pandemic) America’s class structure is recomposing itself in new geographies of race, poverty, and production. Over the last forty years, the human landscape of the United States has been fundamentally transformed.

The metamorphosis is partially visible in the ascendance of glittering, coastal hubs for finance, infotech, and the so-called creative class. But this is only the tip of an economic iceberg, the bulk of which lies in the darkness of the declining heartland or on the dimly lit fringe of sprawling cities.

This is America’s hinterland, populated by towering grain threshers and hunched farmworkers, where laborers drawn from every corner of the world crowd into factories and “fulfillment centers” and where cold storage trailers are filled with fentanyl-bloated corpses when the morgues cannot contain the dead.

By means of memoir, analysis of the political geography of class and sheer descriptive power, Philip Neel’s book Hinterland is a guidebook to America’s new heart of darkness.

Neel teaches geography at the University of Washington. He was raised in a mobile home in the Siskiyou Mountains, on the border of California and Oregon.

“Wageless Life”: Review of Hinterland by Sarah Brouillette


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About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.