EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P086)

Cultural strategies and social conditions of neo-nationalisms in Europe

Location T-409
Date and Start Time 01 August, 2014 at 09:00

Convenors

Margit Feischmidt (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) email
Peter Hervik (Aalborg University, Denmark) email
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Short Abstract

Our panel continues the social anthropological thinking on neo-nationalism, integrationist thinking, and extreme right politics in different social conditions around Europe, emphasizing the everyday realization of new nationalism in discourse and practice, and its relation to racism.

Long Abstract

New and revised "old" forms of nationalisms, discourses on the "endangered" cultural and moral community of the nation, along with discursive reification of "annoying" or "dangerous" aliens became accepted in the last two decades all over Europe. According to Gingrich and Banks who introduced the term, neo-nationalism is a consequence of three contemporary processes: the reaction of certain political actors to transnational projects of identity politics; the successful establishment of the far right parties in most European countries; and the success of the rhetorical and symbolic strategies manipulating various notions of culture. Others emphasize the global and structural processes standing behind new forms nationalism or think that the disadvantaged situation of blue collar workers explains their receptiveness of radical ideas and political formations.

Some anthropologists argue that new nationalist thinking derives from the perception and practice, which Douglas Holmes coined "integralism". This covers both conceptual and organisatoric efforts to circumvent the alienating force of modernity, in order to revitalize "traditional" communities. Besides political and everyday visions of primordial and cultural based solidarities, visual and discursive processes of 'othering'' are also in the focus of new nationalist discourses both in the media and in everyday life. This is how racism gets new legitimacy not only in relation to political extremism but also in relation to everyday life. Though new racism utilizes images of different minorities (ex. Muslims and immigrant groups in Western Europe, the Roma in Eastern Europe), racism in many respects shows common characteristics in different parts of Europe.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The racism that dares not speak its name: rethinking neo-nationalism and neo-racism in Norway

Author: Sindre Bangstad (University of Oslo)  email

Short Abstract

This paper contextualizes Norwegian neo-racism with reference to persistent fears about lack of social and national cohesion arising from modern mass immigration and an increasingly multicultural Norwegian society.

Long Abstract

In contemporary Norway, the mere mentioning of the term racism as indexing anything other than a now defunct historical racism based on biological indicators have for all practical purposes become taboo in the public sphere. This is both the result of a strategic far-right distancing from classical forms of racism and a conscious effort by numerous Norwegian social scientists and public intellectuals to restrict its meaning and reference in the course of recent decades. Norway has a comparatively weak tradition of social science scholarship on racism and discrimination, and persistent claims to the right to name racism on the part of minorities in Norway often come up against social and political imaginaries in which Norway and Norwegians are cast as 'exceptional' and 'virtuous' in regard to racism and discrimination. Yet in spite of claims to that effect from some prominent Norwegian social anthropologists there is little sustained empirical evidence for the disappearance of racism and discrimination against minorities marked as 'other' through various processes of racialization in Norway.In present ethno-racial hierarchies in Norway, individuals of Roma and Muslim background are marked as the least 'desirable' co-citizens. Yet the extent to which stereotypes of various minorities are structurally similar and interlinked across time and space in the Norwegian context is often striking. In this paper, drawing upon the work of Gullestad (2006), Holmes (2004) and Hervik (2011) I will attempt to contextualize Norwegian neo-racism with reference to persistent fears about lack of social and national cohesion arising from modern mass immigration and an increasingly multicultural Norwegian society.

The nexus of exclusionary thinking and the naturalization of difference in neo-nationalist Scandinavia

Author: Peter Hervik (Aalborg University, Denmark)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss how negativity against migrants in neo-nationalist Scandinavia is related to negative beliefs towards “multiculturalism”, “feminism”, and “liberals” (left-wingers) in popular reasoning about difference

Long Abstract

Studies of European radical right political party programs, social movements, news media coverage, scores of books, and social media networks have embraced a negative dialogue towards migrants, whose identities are increasingly seen as incompatible with "Western" and national values and presenting a major challenge to the democracy. Neo-Nationalist sponsors of these public discourse support anti-migration and oppositionary stances to "migrant sympathizers", who are often represented as traitors or cowards. They also fuel a process where xenophobia and zero-tolerance have become naturalized and morally accepted ways to respond to the socalled non-Western migrants. But how do people reason reason on these issues in everyday interaction, during interviews, and in social media exchanges? The aim of this paper is to discuss how negativity against migrants in neo-nationalist Scandinavia is related to negative beliefs towards "multiculturalism", "feminism", and "liberals" (left-wingers) in popular reasoning about difference. While there is much research about different forms of exclusionary beliefs separately and against specific collectivities, there is little scientific knowledge about how one belief co-exists with another as figures in reasoning. We approach this coexistence as a "nexus of exclusionary beliefs" with its blurred relations, inherent contradictions, and taken for granted assumptions. Through interactive methods that include a variety of qualitative interviews and participant observation followed by analysis of online social media and web news commenting, we seek in this early phase of the project to understand the cultural logics of this contemporary Scandinavian reasoning about difference.

The welfare state, an obstacle to a diverse society?

Author: Ditte Strunge Sass (Mahidol University International College)  email

Short Abstract

If an articulated focus on sameness or ‘equality of worth’ holds the possibility of undermining diversity and emphasising the very differences it set out to eradicate, then to what extent does the welfare state represent a vehicle for the development of neo-nationalism in a Danish context?

Long Abstract

A high level of redistribution, and relative economic equality as a result, characterize the Scandinavian Welfare states. This paper investigates whether there is a relationship between an emphasis on 'equality' and a perceived need for a homogeneous culture, i.e. the implications of the welfare state for diversity. The discussion will be rooted in 12 months of fieldwork conducted in connection with my PhD project in a Danish school. An egalitarian educational ideology was observed facilitating a process in which equal opportunities were endeavoured and characteristics of inequality identified. This process, I suggest, relates to an attempt to erase those characteristics that are 'not equal' and subsequently to identify right and wrong ways of being diverse. Gullestad has addressed this conundrum, proposing that 'in many ways the ideal of sameness produces a solution (demands for sameness) to a problem it has itself contributed to creating.' (2002:59).

Subsequently, this paper will engage with ideas of nationalism and neo-nationalism, discussing a growing ethnification of national identity in the light of an understanding of equality as intertwined with notions of sameness, and the transmission of nationalism through everyday activities and symbolism. Two understandings of nationalism appeared in my fieldwork; 'inclusionary', as expressed through the often-heard statement 'everyone should really have it like us' and 'exclusionary', advocating that 'you must be like us, or leave the country'. Both of these ultimately emphasise that all citizens, regardless of their ethnic background, must be 'equal', as they must (or at least should) 'have it like us'.

The secret of HEMA: everyday neo-nationalism in the Netherlands and its intertwinement with economy

Author: Sophie Elpers (Meertens Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The paper focusses on cultural and economic strategies of the Dutch department store HEMA in order to construct and sell Dutchness, and on the interplay with the consumers’ everyday life. It reveals the highly commercialized dimensions of everyday neo-nationalism with its exclusionary implications.

Long Abstract

In the Netherlands a rediscovery of the national can be observed in all parts of life in the last two decades. The commercial world seems to be one of the powerful agents in this field.

The paper focusses on the cultural and economic strategies of the famous department store HEMA in order to construct and sell Dutchness, and on the interplay with the consumer's everyday life. It reveals the highly commercialized dimensions of everyday neo-nationalism with its inclusionary and exclusionary implications. By e.g. extending the product range with articles related to Islamic culture HEMA tries to insert rituals and symbols of immigrant groups in an imaginary canon of Dutchness since several years. Therefore it is important that HEMA itself is recognized as 'typically Dutch' (the reason why a musical on 'Dutch' culture bears the name HEMA). But the question rises in how far this strategy of inclusion overrules earlier processes of 'othering' in the marketing strategies demonstrated by an independent exhibition project in 2007 called 'El HEMA'. Or does the new strategy just disguise 'othering' processes or even strengthen them?

Based on anthropological fieldwork in the company and on interviews with consumers, the paper looks at both the negotiations about the national within HEMA and the effects of HEMA's chosen strategies on the everyday life of its consumers. The role of a desire to feel at home in the Netherlands by consuming (or rejecting) HEMA products and the role of HEMA in everyday nationalism will be analyzed.

Cultural intimacy and racism in local context: lessons on neonationalism from a Hungarian village

Author: Margit Feischmidt (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

As part of a broader research aim to understand new nationalism in the context of local social relations this paper analyses the struggles of a Hungarian village to compensate social deprivation and to redefine politics using discourses on national culture, tradition and the racialized Other.

Long Abstract

The success of far right political agents cannot be explained by political factors only. Social explanations focusing on structural causes and the experience of deprivation are important interpretative frameworks, but they are not sufficient. In addition to these perspectives this paper proposes the examination of symbolic and discursive strategies which make national culture and collective memory the most powerful idioms of inclusion and exclusion as used by the far right. The paper analyses interviews and ethnographic data collected in a Hungarian village (Gyöngyöspata) where the far right party won local elections in 2011. It investigates a complex set of local relations creating a demand for far right politics strengthened by new forms of nationalism and racism. By doing so I am going to emphasize the collectively envisaged threat of social deprivation among postpeasant and postindustrial workers and their desire to strengthen their social position via constructing a collective self-image, an integralist worldview and an everyday racism embedded into a nationalist discourse. The social perception of Roma as threatening "aliens" is analyzed both from the perspective of the collective fears of majority and the everyday interethnic relations, producing conflicts and inequality for a longer period. The paper also investigates the aspirations, interests and activities of a local entrepreneurial elite which played a major role in recontextualizing the political into a nationalist framework and preparing the field for the rise of the far right.

Cultural communities of intimate nationhood: post-socialist turn to folk music in Serbia

Author: Marija Grujic (Institute for Literature and Art, Belgrade)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores the nationalist sentiments of building intimate cultural membership through the consumption of folk music in Serbia after the fall of Yugoslavia.

Long Abstract

The fall of the state-socialist set of social and cultural practices opened up the space for new self-expressions and intimacies of everyday life in the late 1980s in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. The new political and social developments brought about novel sensibilities and economies of cultural communities, and especially, new forms of intimate orientations and self-identifications with regard to post-socialist political and cultural spheres. One of the predominant political turning points was the transformation of socialist, one-party-ruled ideological structures into neo-(ethno)nationalist sentiments. Therefore, new cultural intimacies in relation to the neo-nationalist rebuilding of communities have shaped the everyday economies of life in the early 1990s across this region, both in public and private spheres. In Serbia, dominant cultural intimacies that took place with the early political and cultural disintegrations of Yugoslavia reinforced the production and consumption of the "folk music" genre as a symbol of "genuine", "folk" entertainment, as well as a symbol of cultural "liberation" of allegedly imposed and hypocritical variety of music genres in multiethnic and multicultural Yugoslavia. The paper explores the shapes, implications and ideological loads of the intimacies of neo-nationalisms built through folk music in Serbia. In addition, it discusses the complex and blurred relations between public politics of nationalism and popular cultural reconstructions of intimate cultural nationhood.

New fascism in Eastern Europe: the side effect of Europeanization?

Author: Juraj Buzalka (FSES Comenius University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper attempts to discuss that processes of European integration do not only foster ‘integralism’, however, some ‘European’ themes such as human rights discourses, private property claims, and market rationalism have been appropriated by some neo-nationalists and their supporters.

Long Abstract

This paper attempts to discuss what I aim to define as 'the paradox of Europeanization' in the rise of neo-nationalism and new fascism in Central and Eastern Europe. The argument is that processes of or inspired by European integration do not only foster 'integralism' (Holmes 2000). Some themes represented and promoted by the European Union - such as human rights discourse, private property claims, and market rationalism - have been appropriated by neo-nationalists and neo-fascists. The paper intends to present this paradox by describing some case studies from Slovakia dealing with Roma/Non-Roma relations and the way neo-fascist have taken the leading role in debating them.

Basing my findings on long-term research among workers and other social groups in Central and Eastern Slovakia and taking into account the discussions on uneven development and its effect on politics I call 'post-peasant populism', I argue that it is not the lack of civic virtues that defines this development of new fascism, as the majority of political analysts have been long arguing for post-socialist Europe. It is neither exclusive result of neoliberal globalization some 'macro-oriented' authors claim nor identity-crisis as 'culturalist' perspectives assume. I would like to discuss a particular interplay of community ideas and practices and the proliferation of and accommodation to the market and of/to market rationality in Central and Eastern Europe that create specific power distribution allowing neo-fascism to enjoy increasing popular support even among the 'non-integralist' groups that have generally benefited from EU project such as middle classes.

Predatory pederasts? Ideas of sexuality, otherness, and conspiracy among contemporary Russian grassroots nationalists

Author: Tova Höjdestrand (Lund University)  email

Short Abstract

An escalating focus on family and sexuality in contemporary Russian nationalism has resulted in a gradual shift in criteria for us-and-them boundaries, as formerly dominating notions of race and religion are partially being superseded by sexual “otherness” such as homosexuality.

Long Abstract

Although a constituent facet of nationalism as such, concerns about sexuality, family, and demography are becoming increasingly central to the present upsurge of nationalist sentiments in many Eastern European countries. The trend is particularly conspicuous in Russia, not only by the notorious homophobic legal initiatives during the past year, but also by ostentatious pronatalist policies. The official position is justified by an ostensible "people's will," embodied by a growing plethora of conservative pro-family grassroots groups, defending ostensibly traditional Russian family values against Western moral "pollutants" such as homosexuality, feminism, sexual education, etc. This paper elucidates how sexuality is gradually being added to race and religion as a criteria for ultra-nationalist boundary setting. A striking example is an increasing sexualization of the historically entrenched genre of anti-Western conspiracy narratives, in which the "traditional" standard culprit, the Jewish-governed World Wide Plot, is gradually being replaced by a conspiracy of liberals and/or gays. Symptomatic for the sexualization of Otherness is also a recent tendency among many racist ultra-nationalist groups to engage in politically opportune issues related to family policy, and to add homosexuals to immigrants as a selected target for harassment and violence.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.