The Extreme Gone Mainstream
Colloquium | April 18 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues), Wildavsky Conference Center
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Professor of Education and Sociology, American University
Miller-Idriss explores how extremist ideologies have entered mainstream German culture through commercialized products and clothing laced with extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and nationalist coded symbols and references. Drawing on a unique digital archive of thousands of historical and contemporary images, as well as scores of interviews with young people and their teachers in two German vocational schools with histories of extremist youth presence, Miller-Idriss shows how this commercialization is part of a radical transformation happening today in German far right youth subculture. She describes how these youths have gravitated away from the singular, hard-edged skinhead style in favor of sophisticated and fashionable commercial brands that deploy coded extremist symbols. Virtually indistinguishable in style from other clothing popular with youth, the new brands desensitize far right consumers to extremist ideas and dehumanize victims.