by Dr. Agnieszka Pasieka
Drawing on ethnographic research with Italian and Polish far-right movements, in my talk I aim to shed light on the ways in which members of these movements deploy the notions of “difference” and “sameness” to promote their activism and appeal to broader population. First, I show that far-right militants strive to redefine the ideas of “race,” “ethnicity,” “diversity” to present themselves as respectful of difference and cast “left-wing liberals” as the enemies of diversity. Second, I demonstrate that while continuously hostile towards Islam and migrants and refugees from outside the EU, many of my research participants have been discovering a new ground for alliances with the migrants they dub “conservative.” In presenting such migrants as community-oriented and hard-working, the militants contrast them with an archetypical “Western man,” which in their eyes stands for consumerism, individualism and lack of values. In concluding, I say a few words about broader implications of these issues, not only in terms of socio-political developments but also for anthropology and anthropology practitioners.
Agnieszka Pasieka ist eine soziokulturelle Anthropologin. In ihrer Forschung beschäftigt sie sich mit Fragen der Ungleichheit, Diskriminierung und sozialen Hierarchien sowie mit der Art und Weise, wie verschiedene soziale Akteure damit umgehen. Sie hat eine längere Feldforschung über religiöse und ethnische Minderheiten in Polen und eine historisch orientierte Studie über Migration, Klasse und Ethnizität im Connecticut River Valley durchgeführt. Derzeit führt sie ein großes ethnographisches Projekt über Netzwerke europäischer rechtsextremer Aktivisten in Mitteleuropa durch. Zwischen 2015 und 2018 war Agnieszka Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow am Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte und ist derzeit Elise Richter-Research Fellow im Institut für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie.
Pasieka is a social anthropologist interested in the issues of religious and ethnic pluralism, nationalism, political radicalism, migration, and qualitative methodology.
Her doctoral dissertation and the subsequent book, “Hierarchy and Pluralism. Living religious difference in Catholic Poland,” discussed the situation of religious and ethnic minorities in the context of church-state relations in Poland. It was based on a year-long ethnographic study of a rural community in Southern Poland, which, as a result of the region’s turbulent history, a series of ethnic cleansings and migrations, is today both ethnically and religiously diverse and as such stands in contrast to the rest of the – rather homogenous – Polish socio-cultural landscape.
Her most recent research explores different facets of far-right activism. In the period between 2015 and 2018, she carried out a research project entitled “Transnational nationalism,” which aimed to networks of youth far-right nationalist organizations in East Central Europe in the 20th and 21 centuries. Using historical and anthropological methodology, the study investigated the transnational dimension of far-right nationalist organizations: the networking of people, ideologies, and tactics between different nationalist groups which maintain distinct, and at times mutually exclusive, aims and interests. She is currently expanding this study in my project, “Living right: an anthropological study of far-right activism,” which seeks to investigate new forms of civic engagement pursued by far-right movements and to understand their increasing appeal among “ordinary,” socially established citizens. Focusing on far-right groups acting within and between a dozen European countries, the project investigates the processes of translation between locally grounded and transnational far-right practices and ideologies and the tensions produced as they try to orient themselves around both transnational and local concerns.