Call for papers: The Ethics of Researching the Far Right

Deadline: 15 October 2021

At a time when far, radical, and extreme-right politics are becoming increasingly mainstream globally – sometimes with deadly consequences – research in these fields are essential to understanding the most effective ways to combat these dangerous ideologies. Yet engaging with texts and movements that do physical and verbal violence raises a number of urgent ethical issues. Until recently, this has remained understudied, as scholarship on the far right rarely delves explicitly and critically into the ethics of research. 

This book originated as a workshop series in the summer of 2020, in which an international group of academics at various career stages shared the ethical challenges and best practices they had developed in their research. Rather than prescribing a singular ethical framework, the workshop series encouraged participants to engage critically and collaboratively with complex ethical questions and this book aims to further this conversation.

We welcome abstracts that engage with one or more of the following questions:

  1. How do we define the movements and politics we study? What terminology do we use, how does this differ on the basis of context, and why does it matter? How can terms such as extreme and radical right or populism obscure more than they help us understand these politics and movements?
  2. How do our various subject positions shape our approach to research? Who tends to research the far right, why, and to what effects?
  3. How do white supremacy and institutional racism shape far-right studies? What would it mean to decolonise far-right studies?
  4.  What is the ideal relationship between research and activism? Does being an activist present challenges or does it open up new vistas of understanding? How do we ensure that our research is both scholarly and just?
  5. What roles do collective memory, culture, and national identity play in far-right studies? How might we prevent research on collective memory, culture, and nationalism from being harnessed by the far right for their own purposes?
  6. How do we look after ourselves, physically and emotionally? How do we ensure a safe environment for researchers who are at the sharp end of far-right politics? What are the impacts of such research on racialised minorities and other targeted groups, whether as researchers or the audience?
  7. What are our particular ethical responsibilities towards participants? How do we ensure that participants at the sharp end of far-right violence are protected? What ethical concerns arise when dealing with far-right respondents or ‘formers’? How does the nature of research on the far right change our approach to informed consent and confidentiality?
  8. How do we practice ethical research within an institutional context that requires navigating university ethics boards and committees? How should we practice ethics beyond a ‘box-ticking’ exercise?
  9. How do we approach research in the context of counter-extremism policies and state and corporate surveillance (such as the UK’s Prevent)? How do we respond to counter-extremism being used to stoke Islamophobia? How do we avoid our research being coopted for reactionary purposes? 
  10. How do we represent far-right movements and texts without disseminating and amplifying their ideas? How do we interact with media actors without providing unnecessary coverage to far-right ideas? 
  11. How do we look after our audiences, whether general or academic?
  12. How do we ensure that our audiences contextualise our findings effectively? How do we ensure that our research funding does not impact or influence our research findings?
  13. How might research on the far right draw from, and speak to, ethical approaches to researching other extremist movements?

We particularly welcome reflective and critical pieces about our practice of researching the far right in addition to chapters that build on dedicated original research on the issue.

This edited book is co-edited by Antonia Vaughan (University of Bath), Joan Braune (Gonzaga University), Meghan Tinsley (University of Manchester) and Aurelien Mondon (University of Bath) and will be submitted to Manchester University Press. Potential contributors should submit an abstract of 250 words to far.right.research.ethics@gmail.com, alongside their name, a short (50-word) biography, and an indication of which of the above questions their abstract addresses (it might address more than one). The deadline for abstract submissions is 15 October 2021. Word length can vary between 2000 to 6000 words.

Contributors will be notified of the editors’ decision within a month. Successful abstracts will be included in the book proposal. A full draft of each chapter is due on 15 March 2022. Please note that final acceptance in the book will be subject to external peer review.

Published by Aurelien Mondon

Aurelien Mondon is a Senior Lecturer in politics at the University of Bath. His research focuses predominantly on the impact of racism and populism on liberal democracies and the mainstreaming of far right politics through elite discourse. His first book, The Mainstreaming of the Extreme Right in France and Australia: A Populist Hegemony?, was published in 2013 and he recently co-edited After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, racism and free speech published with Zed. His new book Reactionary democracy: How racism and the populist far right became mainstream, co-written with Aaron Winter, is now out with Verso.

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