Mapping the New Right Wave

Liberal democracy today is in crisis, or, more accurately, in a state of siege. Not only in the United States but in much of Europe and in many nations across the globe, we are witnessing the advent of a new era of antidemocratic politics, much of it with increasingly authoritarian features.

— Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon, and Max Pensky, Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018)

How to respond to the rise of the new right as it expands with electoral gains and rhetorical force in the public domain? The Dutch writer Henk van Straten recently likened the dilemma to being caught in a wave, heading somewhere dangerous, yet feeling unable to change its direction. The image of citizens seized in a right-wing wave refers both to those attracted to elements of right-wing politics, as well as those repulsed by it but unable to find anchors for resistance or imagining viable alternatives.

The figure of the wave emphasizes aspects of the new rights’ effective organizational and communicative practices. It shapes how the new right is discussed as a symptom, a threat, a result of prior forces, or a warning for future developments. It also affects the process and form of resistance. For individuals and collectives, experiencing the new right as a wave informs how they feel empowered or helpless in relation to it, how hopes and fears become articulated and embodied, and so on.

While the description and experience of the new right as a wave seems ubiquitous across different political settings and shared in many countries, its specific meanings and functions diverge in each context – and depending on the perspective taken. An incumbent government will articulate the wave-like character of the new right differently than a member of a right-wing youth movement; for a union member in Brazil the ‘new right wave’ means something different than for a union member in the Netherlands.

How to critically deconstruct the wave as a way of describing and experiencing this political moment? How to explore its vital elements? How can we see across different local settings without losing a sense of their specificities? In addition to reflections on the figure of the wave as a particular way of framing the current political moment, we invite academic or artistic contributions that map the rise of the new right from an (inter)national comparative perspective, with a specific emphasis on responses and (the problems of) resistance in each setting. Shorter essays with a regional focus are welcomed as well.

The formats of the contributions can vary from (peer-reviewed) articles (5000-8000 words) to essays (2000-5000) and book reviews (1500-2500). Abstracts can be submitted here until June 30th 2019. See here for additional information on submissions.