The Krampus in Austria: Male White Sexualised Performances of Violence with a neo-nationalist Agenda?
(University of Vienna)
Matthäus Rest (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper the booming of the Krampus phenomenon (performances of fiercely masked men) in Austria will be analysed as a highly sexualised form of white male identity politics. Dependent on context, the masculinities produced reject and claim liberal "European values".
Paper long abstract:
Recently Austria is witnessing an unprecedented Krampus boom. In December, young men nearly all over the country dress up in masks that invoke associations with the devil or demons, wear long fur suits and roam the streets scaring and attacking onlookers with the switches they carry. Over the last two decades, the number of troupes and organized events has skyrocketed. Most of these can be termed 'invented traditions' as there are only a handful of places with a history of the practice from before the mid-20th century. Based on ethnographic fieldwork on Krampus practices in Austria, we argue that they serve as important sources of identity making at the centre of which are relations between men and women as well as between ethnic Austrians and immigrants. Through an engagement with anthropological discussions on identity and masculinity, we suggest that the recent Krampus boom is indicative of new forms of white identity politics in Europe. Recently we argued that "we are certain that the main allure of becoming Krampus to young white men in Austria today is indeed nostalgia for a form of unambiguous, confident, heteronormative masculinity in an ethnically homogenous society that is far from their everyday experience". In this paper we would like to drive the argument further and stress the sexualised violence which is performed by many of the troupes. This fierce kind of masculinity and the phantasies about Muslim men attacking "our" women call for anthropological analyses of neo-liberal subjectivities.
Tangles of late liberalism: sexuality, nationalism, and the politics of race in Europe [EASA ENQA and ARE networks]