Image of SophieBjork-James

Sophie Bjork-James

Assistant Professor of the Practice in Anthropology

Expert on the U.S.-based religious right and the white nationalist movement, particularly online communities.


Sophie Bjork-James has engaged in long-term research on both the U.S.-based Religious Right and the white nationalist movement. She is working on a book manuscript which explores the importance of the family in the white evangelical tradition. Her work has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC Radio 4’s Today, and in the New York Times.

Media Appearances

  • Experts: Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric could galvanize extremists

    Such may have been the case when 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Saturday and charged with conspiracy to riot at a Pride event, said Sophie Bjork-James, an assistant professor in anthropology at Vanderbilt University who researches the white nationalist movement, racism and hate crimes in the U.S. The arrests came as a toxic brew of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has been on the rise in Idaho and elsewhere.

    June 14th, 2022

  • Republican politicians all over the country have repeated the Great Replacement theory

    Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University and an expert in the white nationalist movement, said the theory has been a key tool for white supremacists working since school integration in the 1970s to recruit white conservative Republicans to their cause.

    May 29th, 2022

  • Americans' erratic relationship with religion will be tested again after abortion ruling, experts say

    “Abortion is framed as a black and white issue in evangelism in that it’s always bad, and I think what we’re going to see – especially if Roe is overturned – is that there’s a gray area that’s going to jump into the picture in ways that many pro-life people have never thought about,” said Sophie Bjork-James, a professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

    May 29th, 2022

  • Teachers who mention sexuality are ‘grooming’ kids, conservatives say

    Sophie Bjork-James, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies evangelical politics and the white-nationalist movement, said the religious right has advanced similar lines of argument in the past. In the 1980s, for instance, when women were entering the workforce in large numbers and placing their children in day-care centers, she said, some Christian conservatives drove what became known as the “satanic panic” — the false alarm that day cares were sites of satanic ritual and sexual abuse.

    April 5th, 2022

  • QAnon’s ‘Save the Children’ morphs into popular slogan

    Under the guise of benefiting children, many of the posts seek to lure people into the QAnon conspiracy theory circle and encourage support for Trump, said Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropology professor at Vanderbilt University who studies the religious right and QAnon.

    October 28th, 2020

  • YouTube follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon crackdown

    “While this is an important change, for almost three years YouTube was a primary site for the spread of QAnon,” said Sophie Bjork-James, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University who studies QAnon. “Without the platform Q would likely remain an obscure conspiracy. For years YouTube provided this radical group an international audience.”

    October 15th, 2020

  • QAnon Linked to at Least 44 Election Candidates in 2020—and Some Could Win

    "I don't see QAnon going away any time soon," Sophie Bjork-James, assistant professor of the practice in anthropology at Vanderbilt University, told Newsweek. "Elections are key platforms for conspiracy theories to reach a wider audience, and elected officials who espouse conspiracy theories can have even a greater reach. This can provide a sense of legitimacy to ideas that have no factual basis."

    September 21st, 2020

  • Notre Dame Cathedral fire spurs Islamophobic conspiracy theories on social media

    As firefighters worked to contain the fire that ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, Twitter and YouTube struggled to take down conspiracy theories being pushed by both anonymous accounts and verified white nationalists who spread Islamophobic theories about the disaster.

    April 16th, 2019

  • Far-Right Internet Groups Listen for Trump’s Approval, and Often Hear It

    On Wednesday, minutes after President Trump posted an incendiary campaign ad falsely accusing Democrats of flooding the country with murderous illegal immigrants, virulent racists on an online message board erupted in celebration.

    November 4th, 2018

  • Replacement theories, hunting RINOs: How GOP candidates, lawmakers push 'dangerous' language

    While there's no direct one-to-one connection between one campaign ad and a person or group carrying out a crime, "there is a really clear relationship between the hateful speech of politicians and hateful acts," said Sophie Bjork-James, an expert on racism who teaches at Vanderbilt University.

    July 9th, 2022


Ph.D., City University of New York

M.Ed., University of Toronto

B.A., Western Washington University


VUStar is a broadcast facility that links experts to you 24/7. The studio offers HD and SD transmission and an ISDN line for radio interviews. The studio, staffing and phone lines are free when using Vanderbilt experts.