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Accepted Paper:

Reflexivity in the anthropology of fascism  
Patrick Wielowiejski (Humboldt University Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

How can ethnographers of fascism critically assess the ways in which they have become entangled with their object? By examining two relationships with far-right interlocutors, the author of this paper develops an understanding of reflexivity as an indispensable tool for an antifascist anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

The ultimate goal of an anthropology of fascism has to be the eradication of fascism. But naming one’s ethnographic approach ‘antifascist’ does not prevent one from becoming entangled in one’s object of analysis. Indeed, as the ethnographer develops relationships in the field, clear-cut boundaries between ‘the good ethnographer’ and ‘the repugnant other’ become more and more difficult to sustain. However, the ways in which spending a lot of time with far-right activists affects one’s own worldview and politics are not always obvious, and simplistic ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ dichotomies obscure more than they reveal. Neither is it possible fully to disentangle the myriad ways—thoughts, actions, affects—in which one might have become complicit with the field.

In my contribution, therefore, I will suggest (radical) reflexivity as an indispensable tool for an antifascist anthropology. Based on ethnographic material from fieldwork in the far-right party, “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) between 2017 and 2019, I will argue that an ethnographic approach to fascism will never be free of contradictions, but it is by thinking through our entanglements with the field that we can hope to develop an antifascist anthropology. By contrasting my relationships with two of my interlocutors, I will engage in an exercise of reflexivity in this paper, and think through the ethical and political repercussions of my fieldwork.

Panel P162a
Can There Be an Antifascist Anthropology? [ANTHROFA Network Panel]
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -