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Accepted Paper:

Transnational American libertarianism and the conservative revolution: ethnographic reflections on populist resistance to quarantine measures in the era of COVID-19  
Steven Tran-Creque (City University of New York Graduate Center)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines connections between the American wave of anti-lockdown protests and populist mobilizations seen across Europe with particular attention to the intellectual history of American conservatism and the European new right.

Paper long abstract:

While countries with prior experience with SARS and MERS have generally responded to COVID-19 with robust quarantine and contact tracing measures, both the American and European responses have been comparatively patchwork and incoherent. Soft “shelter in place” and social distancing orders have provoked significant popular resistance and resentment on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, a confluence of libertarians, gun rights activists, “boogaloo bois” and many others have staged spectacular armed protests against policies they see as unconstitutional tyranny. Across Europe, similar protests have emerged, with notable participation from the newly resurgent populist far right.

Why have these movements reacted so militantly to what many scientists and academics generally tend to view as apolitical and mild public health interventions? What should anthropologists make of broadly popular populist conservative and libertarian critiques of the biopolitical state in a state of emergency? Why has scientific knowledge been popularly rendered as utterly incredible in these groups? And, perhaps most importantly, what are the long standing connections between the European new right and the American conservative movement?

Drawing on extensive ethnographic research in the gun rights community—principally in the US but frequently transnational in character—this paper explores the peculiarly American right discourse that consistently reaches beyond the geographic US, in order to make sense of the populist right’s perspectives and reactions to public health interventions in era of the COVID-19 pandemic with particular attention to how this bears on processes of extreme social inequality, race formation, and scientific knowledge claims.

Panel Irre12b
Scaling irresponsibility: perceptions of the failure of European liberal democratic politics
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -