The Challenge of the Extreme Right in Europe: Past, Present, Future

Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism in partnership with the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, supported by Birkbeck Institute for Social Research

Event Information and Booking

20th March, 2014
9:15 am - 5:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London, Bloomsbury, WC1E 7HX. Council Room, Torrington Square main entrance
Emanuele Toscano, University G. Marconi; Daniel Trilling, New Humanist; Shulamit Volkov, Tel Aviv University

In light of recent events in Greece, France, Hungary and elsewhere, it is timely to bring together specialists from different countries and disciplines, along with journalists, film-makers, political activists, researchers and doctoral students with a special interest in the challenge posed by the extreme right. The workshop will compare extreme right movements across Europe and consider the circumstances that have nurtured them. It will facilitate consideration of their practices, ideologies, cultural forms, appeal and use of new technologies; discussion of how the past of fascism and Nazism shapes but also differs from contemporary developments; and the exchange of views on how best to understand and respond to this challenge.

Many forms of research are taking place on these questions in different settings, not only within the university sector. This workshop aims to clarify the nature of the work that is currently being undertaken, to explore what more might usefully be done, and to see what scope there may be for future collaboration.

Session One: The rise of the new far right: street politics, culture, violence

Chair: Maria Margaronis, The Nation

Speakers: Emanuele Toscano, University G. Marconi; Daphne Halikiopoulou, University of Reading; Daniel Trilling, New Humanist

What is the appeal of fascism and the new far right for Europe’s young? How are contemporary culture and technology used by these movements? Is there anything new about their approaches to race and sexual politics?

Respondents: Paul Gilroy, King’s College, London; Nick Lowles, HOPE not hate

Session Two: Politics, economics and the far right 

Chair: Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London

Speakers: D’Maris Coffman, University of Cambridge; Vassilis Pavlopoulos, University of Athens; Ferenc Erős, University of Pécs, Hungary

How have current economic conditions shaped the new far right? How has the far right infiltrated mainstream institutions (parliaments, judiciary, police, media)? How has it shaped broader political discourse and mainstream politics?

Respondents: Dimitris Christopoulos, Panteion University, Athens; Neal Ascherson, Journalist and author

Session Three: Fascism past and present

Chair: David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

Speakers: Shulamit Volkov, Tel Aviv University; Kevin Passmore, Cardiff University; Rob Riemen, Nexus Institute

How meaningful are parallels between the far right in interwar Europe and in the present? To what extent does the far right itself draw on the historical past? What are the continuities between old and new ideological uses of race and religion?

Respondents: Nicholas Stargardt, University of Oxford; Lyndsey Stonebridge, University of East Anglia; Andrea Mammone, Royal Holloway, University of London

Session Four: What is to be done?

Chair: Daniel Pick, Birkbeck, University of London

Open discussion

How has civil society responded to the rise of the far right? How effective have left and liberal strategies been? What forms of intellectual and practical engagement should we be considering?

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