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A psychosocial reflection on interacting with a far-right activist
Yutaka Yoshida

The matter of establishing rapport with research subjects involved in far-right movements presents a significant challenge to researchers, as they grapple with the conflicting demands of cultivating close proximity to their subjects while navigating stark ideological disparities, all while maintaining integrity. Some researchers have recognised shared experiences with far-right subjects, which are not unrelated to their ideologies, have enabled them to gather valuable data. The present study aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion regarding the establishment of rapport with far-right subjects, as well as explore the potential for humanising these subjects. By reflecting on my own interaction with a Japanese far-right activist and drawing upon a psychosocial perspective, this chapter elucidates how the interplay between commonalities and disparities, and the resulting tension between us, generate data that effectively captures the intricate nuances of the activist’s experiences. It argues that humanising the subject involves more than simply emphasising shared aspects between researchers and subjects; it necessitates an acknowledgement of the ambivalent nature of the researcher’s interaction with far-right activists. This ambivalence arises not only from the disparity in political standpoints but also from different trajectories of our respective lives. The nuanced recognition offers a more comprehensive understanding of the subjectivities of these individuals.

in The ethics of researching the far right
Omran Shroufi

This chapter aims to delineate some borders of what the far right is – and isn’t – to consolidate existing critique of far right studies, focusing in particular on four potential misconceptions: (1) Far-right politics is not just party politics – often taken as pars pro toto, far-right parties are in fact only part of the picture. They operate alongside far-right writers, academics, think tanks, and non-parliamentary organisations; (2) There is no essential good/bad, far right/non-far right dichotomy – the contemporary far right is not necessarily the single biggest or a uniquely dangerous threat to democracy. Furthermore, the borders between the far right and non-far right are highly permeable; (3) The ‘us’ and ‘them’ of the far right are contingent – far-right forces may look to defend ‘the nation’, but some depict whole continents or ‘civilisations’ as ‘us’. Similarly, demonised ‘others’ may become sought-after constituents as the far right turns its gaze elsewhere; (4) The far right is not uniform – far right parties and organisations differ in significant ways, both within and across countries, with some more or less extreme, racist, (neo)liberal, or protectionist. In essence, this chapter argues that reflective and critical research on the far right needs to highlight what is unique and particular about the far right without overlooking similarities with other actors across the political spectrum. Furthermore, researchers should be attentive that history will not always repeat itself identically and that far-right actors may represent or work for seemingly ‘non-far right’ parties and organisations.

in The ethics of researching the far right
Critical reflections from studying the Lega (Nord)
George Newth

A pressing ethical issue for the study of the far and extreme right is the need to move away from paradigms and approaches which euphemise racist ideology. Key to addressing this is a greater engagement on behalf of political science scholars with racism as an analytical concept. In this chapter, I draw on my experience researching the Italian populist far right Lega (Nord) and reflect on why racism has been largely absent in political science analyses of this party. These reflections highlight three issues which have impeded a consistent engagement with racism as an analytical concept; namely, a lack of reflexivity in terms of positionality and whiteness in political science; an over-emphasis on ‘right-wing’ turns which overlook connections between regionalism and nationalism, and how these can inform far-right ideology; and, finally, a tendency to (over/mis) use populism and nativism as analytical concepts while decentring more stigmatising and precise terms, such as racism. Far from being specific to the study of the Lega, however, I argue that these issues are a symptom of a wider malaise represented by political science’s neglect of racism as an analytical tool. Accordingly, I offer three tentative, non-prescriptive guidelines to encourage reflexivity and a less euphemising way of referring to the far and extreme right. These aim to encourage dialogue between scholars and students alike, and the pursuit of anti-racist paradigms to examine far- and extreme-right actors.

in The ethics of researching the far right
Our ethical duty to the othered
Ryan Switzer

Our ethical duty to ‘do no harm’ to our informants in ethnographic work is complicated by the ever-shifting nature of violence in our societies. In this contribution, I reflect on the definitions of far-right violence thus offered by scholarship before arguing for a more expansive definition. This expansion can open more opportunities for understanding more pernicious forms of racial violence. But it also draws our attention to narratives of violent victimisation consistently offered by far-right activists. Understanding the spectrum of far-right violence means (1) prioritising the study of the violence in stigmatisation and reverse victimisation at the individual level while (2) handling these ideas with care in order to avoid uncritically reproducing them.

in The ethics of researching the far right
Heonik Kwon

The Hill Fight of the Korean War constitutes an important chapter of the formative military conflict of the mid-twentieth century where the South Korean and other UN forces confronted the Chinese and North Korean forces. Currently, it has become a vital site of contested memory, especially in relation to the growing contest of power between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Describing South Korea’s recent initiative of missing in action (MIA)/killed in action (KIA) accounting activities on these old battlegrounds since 2000, this article looks at how public actions concerning the remains of war are intertwined with changing geopolitical conditions. This will be followed by a reflection on the limits of the prevailing art and technology of war-remains accounting.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Sarah Wagner

A half-century since its conclusion, the Vietnam War’s ‘work of remembrance’ in the United States continues to generate, even innovate, forms of homecoming and claims of belonging among the state, its military and veterans, surviving families and the wider public. Such commemoration often centres on objects that materialise, physically or symbolically, absence and longed-for recovery or reunion – from wartime artefacts-turned-mementos to the identified remains of missing war dead. In exploring the war’s proliferating memory work, this article examines the small-scale but persistent practice of leaving or scattering cremains at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC, against the backdrop of the US military’s efforts to account for service members missing in action (MIA). Seen together, the illicit and sanctioned efforts to return remains (or artefacts closely associated with them) to places of social recognition and fellowship shed light on the powerful role the dead have in mediating war’s meaning and the debts it incurs.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Spiritual care and memory activism at the former Republic of Vietnam military cemetery
Đạt Nguyễn

Following the end of the Vietnam–American War in 1975, the commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) remains a difficult issue. The post-war Vietnamese state has marginalised ARVN dead from its national commemorative practices, while it has destroyed or neglected former South Vietnam memorial sites. This article provides an examination of recent efforts by local ARVN former combatants, living relatives of fallen soldiers and young Vietnamese to attend to the upkeep of the former ARVN cemetery in southern Vietnam. Based on participant observation and interviews, I explore how people care for the dead through regular acts of grave maintenance and religious rituals. I show that, through these persistent practices of care, southern Vietnamese engage in a form of memory activism to ensure the continual existence of the cemetery and lay claims to the right to mourn for the marginalised dead.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
The enigmas of empty graves, encrypted archives and porous bones
Tâm T. T. Ngô

This article details the remarkable involvement of the Vietnamese population in finding and naming half a million Vietnamese missing-in-action (MIAs). The secrecy that characterised Vietnam’s military operations during wartime, and the overlapping claims and therefore control of the MIAs by the army and civil administrations in the aftermath of the wars, are the reasons behind unsolvable quagmires in Vietnam’s current war-accounting effort. The myriad of state actors involved who often work at cross purposes raises the public’s awareness of the incompetence of the state and calls for the participation of non-state actors. The latest potential avenue to solve the MIA problem, DNA forensics, is facing all kinds of challenges, such as the quality of the bone samples and the scale of the effort. War accounting has therefore become an open arena of public engagement and popular dissent, while significantly transforming the cult of the dead in Vietnam.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Gender, sexuality and temporality in an English salsa scene

The ‘baby boom’ generation, born between the 1940s and the 1960s, is often credited with pioneering new and creative ways of relating, doing intimacy and making families. With this cohort of men and women in Britain now entering mid and later life, they are also said to be revolutionising the experience of ageing. Are the romantic practices of this ‘revolutionary cohort’ breaking with tradition and allowing new ways of understanding and doing ageing and relating to emerge? Based on an innovative combination of ethnographic fieldwork in salsa classes and life history interviews, this book documents the meanings of desire and romance, and ‘new’ – or renewed – intimacies, among women in mid and later life. Beginning with women at a transition point, when they were newly single or newly dating in midlife, the chapters look back over life histories at prior relationship experiences in different life stages, engage with the fine grain of navigating the terrain of dating and repartnering in midlife, and look forward to hopes for future intimacies. Fieldwork in salsa classes demonstrates the sensory, sensual and affective nature of heteronormativity whilst biographical interviews show how femininity is informed by memories of the past, of the generations that came before and class-based desires. Making important contributions to our understanding of ageing, intimacy and gender, this book illuminates the intersections of age, class and white normativity in romance and desire. We see how rather than being revolutionary, a pervasive concern with being respectable throughout the lifecourse endured.

Sarah Milton

This chapter discusses desires and hopes for the future by drawing on interviews and stories told about dating beyond the salsa classes, in internet dating and online spaces. Respectability was embodied in multiple ways when talking about internet dating, which was tricky in its explicit search for romantic and/or sexual partners. Internet dating was reimagined into a group setting, with individual profiles made by multiple people, and taking individual agency out of the context. Internet dating was also treated like a business, desexualising the spaces and therefore making the space ‘safe’. Interestingly, however, discussions of online forums allowed a much more agential and calculated discourse of desire to arise, with internet dating allowing the picking and choosing of (un)desirable attributes. Talking of what kind of men were not desired revealed much about how the women wanted to be seen themselves. Notions of ‘compatibility’ were seeped in class-based narratives. Derisive descriptions of undesirable men, accompanied with undesirable lifestyles, worked to align the storytellers with a middle-class femininity. The chapter discusses contempt and the cathartic processes of class relations. Contempt was also linked to feelings about ageing. Divorced and midlife men were increasingly dependent and needy, problematic in terms of imagining future relationships. The chapter ends with a discussion of intimate economies that link love and economy, desire and class.

in Ageing and new intimacies