We are delighted to invite submissions for an edited volume tentatively titled “Banal Fascism Online: Weaponizing the ‘Everyday’ for Extreme Ends,” under contract with the Routledge series, Studies in Fascism and the Far Right.
While we welcome submissions from all disciplines and/or theoretical perspectives, we are particularly seeking research by historically underrepresented scholars, such as women of color (e.g., Black and African-American, Asian and Asian-American, Indigenous, and other minority communities), LGBTQ+, and early career and first-generation contributors.
Fascism is on the rise globally, and within Western nations there has been a marked increase in fascism as a decentralized and increasingly mainstream movement. We argue that research on fascism should not approach it as a top-down belief system, but should instead consider the ways fascism is embedded or “coded” within the mundane elements of everyday life. This phenomenon, which we have termed “banal fascism,” is drawn from Michael Billig’s concept of “banal nationalism,” which describes how nationalism is constantly reproduced in banal, but not necessarily benign ways. Our analysis of the inherent banality of fascism as it manifests today also draws from fourteen “eternal” traits, what Umberto Eco famously referred to as Ur-Fascism.
Adopting this new (and still developing) framework, we argue fascism is not just brownshirts marching in formation in the streets or a swastika spray-painted on a synagogue. It is also male and white supremacist, ultranationalist, and far-right rhetoric and iconography featured as memes on social media or slogans on t-shirts. It is anti-trans school policies, supremacist ideals in the beauty industry, ableist and pseudoscientific far-right health trends, the rejection of modernity, and military commodity culture. The line between the banal and more explicit forms of fascist ideation grows hazier, as dangerous rhetoric manifests in tangible action, legislation, and violence. Online spaces have accelerated these manifestations.
As with all socio-political spaces, the digital has been weaponized by those who hold fascist beliefs to preserve hierarchies, keep power in the hands of oppressors, and prevent social and economic progress by marginalized groups. The technological affordances of online forums, platforms, and other relevant digitally-borne community spaces have been leveraged to disseminate dangerous ideologies to mainstream audiences and negotiate entry into mainstream political parties and movements. This edited volume will explore how fascist ideologies have been made increasingly banal in the service of spreading violent ideologies and maintaining hierarchies of power.
The objective of this volume is to cultivate a novel and timely lens through which to research, conceptualize, and understand fascism and its place in today’s political culture. It allows space for contributors to explore fascism as it exists in the digital world, outside the rigid boundaries of historically-recognized fascist states. In today’s world, the digital seeps into every avenue of the political and social, and thus offers a useful framing for analyzing the inherent banality of fascism as it exists in Western states. Perhaps most importantly, this volume offers an opportunity for a diverse set of researchers to help shape a new conceptual framework as it is actively being developed.
QUESTIONS THIS EDITED VOLUME WILL ANSWER:
- What are the banal, the mundane, the micro, and the everyday aspects of fascism in Western democracies?
- Who are the influencers and what are the platforms responsible for mainstreaming extremist views to an expanding political audience?
- How have specific communities been targeted by fascists in online spaces, and how have the targets shifted in the past 5, 10, 15 years?
- How do social media and online fora create spaces for extremist values perceived as mundane?
- What rhetorical strategies do actors and groups use to shift the Overton window (e.g., move previously extreme viewpoints to the mainstream) and make these values routine?
- Which technological affordances provide fascist thought leaders access to – and influence over – various audiences?
- Which platforms offer the most comprehensive and effective opportunities for anti-democratic political strategizing?
- What are the strategies and collective care tactics available to those seeking to combat contemporary forms of fascist harm?
POSSIBLE TOPICS INCLUDE:
- Banal fascism before the Internet
- The history of banal fascism and white supremacy online
- Fascist influencers and their leveraging of platform affordances
- Technofascists in the mainstream
- The techno-affordances of ultranationalism and white supremacy
- Christian Nationalism and/or Christian Identity
- The role of media in normalizing and spreading fascist propaganda online
- Intellectual fascism (e.g., Dark Enlightenment, evolutionary psychology, and/or scientific racism)
- The rise of “groomer” narratives in mainstream online spaces
- The surge of anti-trans rhetoric in fascist organizing online
- Anti-democratic organizing and the educational system
- The branding and commodification of fascism online
- Far-right health and exercise fads online
- Online aesthetics of ecofascism and homesteading
- Fascist political violence as politics
- Fascist futures and imagined pasts
- Anti-fascism and the politics of care
Please note that our conceptualization of banal fascism is being crafted through a Western lens by Western scholars and, to date, has only been applied to Western case studies. While we imagine this framework will be applicable in many national contexts down the line, we are limiting the current volume to Western democracies presently experiencing an uptick in mainstreamed fascist thinking and politics. We made this decision based on our regional expertise and to ensure thematic cohesiveness among chapters. However, we hope this volume will establish the building blocks for banal fascism as a concept that can then be applied to other regions in a future edition. If you have interest in a non-Western edition, please reach out to the corresponding editor.
- Please send extended abstracts of no more than 2,000 words by March 31, 2023.
- Abstracts should include a working title, brief introduction, purpose of the paper, theoretical framework(s), method(s) and data, contribution, and/or expected results.
- Files do not need to be blinded, but please send in either Word or PDF file format.
- Include [a] short author bio(s) with affiliation and preferred contact information at the end of the file (does not count toward word count).
- All files and questions should be sent to the corresponding editor, Meredith L. Pruden, at email@example.com or Hanah Stiverson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Extended abstracts are due by March 31, 2023.
- Co-editors Meghan Conroy, Ayse Lokmanoglu, Meredith L. Pruden, and Hanah Stiverson anticipate notifying submitters of decisions by April 30, 2023.
- The deadline for accepted contributors to submit full chapter drafts will be July 31, 2023.