Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Dr Miranda Christou (University of Cyprus) – The benign feminism of an extreme right-wing party
In this paper I will present results from a study of the right-wing, nationalist party “ELAM” in Cyprus. ELAM is closely associated with Golden Dawn in Greece and has gained parliamentary presence for the first time in 2016. The study is located within larger debates about citizenship, the rise of ethno-nationalism and its appeal to youth (Pilkington, 2016; Miller-Idriss, 2018). Data collection was conducted between September 2016 and December 2017 and includes: a) 48 interviews (ELAM leadership, ‘Youth Front’ members and ‘Women’s Front’ members); b) observations of public events and demonstrations and, c) data from internet sources (website, social media). This paper is focused on how womanhood and motherhood are employed by ELAM in order to establish women’s presence in the group as a necessary, but non-threatening type of female empowerment. The paper brings together interview data as well as ELAM’s positions on the annual Pride parade in Cyprus, their ‘Family Celebration’ events and their recent parliamentary interventions against the legalization of abortion in Cyprus. Literature on issues of gender and sexuality in extreme right-wing groups has been emerging in recent decades and can be roughly divided in two areas: one, research on the presence of women in such groups which includes historical and comparative perspectives (Blee, 1991; Durham, 1998; Bacchetta & Power, 2002; Blee & Deutsch, 2012; Pilkington, 2017) and, two, research on the type of masculine militarism projected by these organizations and the ways in which patriarchical ideology forms the main attraction for young men who feel threatened by the changing role of women in society (Kimmel & Ferber, 2000; Heath, 2003; Kimmel, 2007). The paper connects ELAM’s views on motherhood and domesticity with this literature and aims at showing how this analysis of the far right is connected with larger debates on ‘anti-gender campaigns’ (Kuhar & Paternotte, 2018) and the ‘crisis of masculinity’ (Kimmel, 2006).
Miranda Christou (Ed.D. 2002, Harvard University) is an Assistant Professor in Sociology of Education at the University of Cyprus. Her research has explored the role of educational systems in shaping questions of history and collective memory, and the intersections between Border Studies and Youth Studies. Her most recent fieldwork is a study of the right-wing party of ELAM in Cyprus.