Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Emillie V. de Keulenaar (OI Lab) and Ivan Kisjes (University of Amsterdam) – Tracing intellectual exchanges in the right-wing communities of 4chan/pol/
A common method to historicise new far-right movements has been to locate the reception of intellectual material through direct intellectual sources, such as publishing houses having explicitly identified with the movement (de Keulenaar, 2018). A less explored method has been to locate online spaces where adherents exchange and discuss intellectual material and formulate new concepts in the context of the continuous debates of the so-called ‘online culture wars’ (Lyons, 2017, Hope Not Hate, 2018, Lewis, 2018).
One of such spaces includes the messaging board 4chan, located in the so-called ‘deep vernacular web’ (Tuters and De Zeeuw, forthcoming). 4chan’s /pol/ board has, since 2013, featured a number of general or recurring threads that function as ‘book dumps’. These ‘dumps’ usually consist of posts where users request and share large amounts of intellectual material, be it books, articles, manifestos, YouTube videos, podcasts compiled into lists of links republished in file-sharing sites, paste-bins and torrents.
Book dumps have played a unique intellectual role in reconstituting a catalogue of ideas for 4chan/ pol/ users (‘anons’) to reinvest in relation to public debates, such as race and identity politics, executive governance, self improvement, esoteric spirituality, and other topics peculiar to online far-right publics. In doing so, these intellectual repositories link the board’s discussions to a given political legacy, including intellectual material associated to various branches of past and present far-right political thought.
In a broader effort to map the intellectual exchanges of new online far-right communities, this paper investigates the role of ‘book dumps’ and their intellectual content in 4chan’s /pol/ board. Besides drawing a topology of this intellectual content, it contextualizes discussions around book dumps in relation to topics discussed more broadly in the board. It then relates the content of book dumps to the board’s vernacular overtime. This way, it examines the relation between the intellectual material being published and topical shift having occurred in the board in recent years.