Society for the Anthropology of North America
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
Based on over ten years of research studying the online white nationalist movement, this paper explores the possibilities of using digital ethnographic methods to catalogue the grievances of the racist right. Over the past five years, a variety of right-wing populist and racist movements have mobilized to take over governments and town squares around the world, sparking a renewed interest in understanding the grievances of the right. Using the white nationalist movement as a case study, I content that the online chatrooms within which the movement congregates provides a broad archive of grievances that when examined holistically can show the contours of this movement.
Specifically I ask: Why has the term “white genocide” emerged as a defining concept of the contemporary white nationalist movement? What public does it interpellate? A recent study found that it is the most popular term white nationalists talk about on Twitter. Exploring this term in relation to this broader catalogue of grievances shows the ways whiteness is both constructed as a meaningful identity and imagined as imperiled in these forums. It also shows the ways this fear of imperil tends to take a particular form: that white people will face the same racial violence that people of color have been subjected to. Thus, the genocide of indigenous people upon which the white settler states of North America were founded now becomes an imagined threat to those categorized as white.