The world behind a word.
An anthropological exploration of fascist practices and meanings among European youth

How and why does the “f-word” of fascism continue to constitute a compelling and urgent issue in contemporary Europe? F-WORD addresses this question through comparative ethnographic research among martial arts and combat sports sites as contexts for exploring how fascist practices and meanings are diffused and appropriated by youth. Using fascism as a heuristic device, this project also unfolds diachronically, seeking to explore how European history and memory politics are practiced in the daily lives of young people, and how they are signified and experienced, ultimately connecting to mythic representations of the past to inform a future-oriented fascist utopia.

This will be achieved through a comparative ethnography in three European countries (Belgium, Italy, Poland), moving from combat sport and martial arts urban contexts to follow relations and life trajectories of young people (18-30) with the objective of mapping where youth encounter political discourses in non-political spaces. Extended ethnographic fieldwork (10 months) will be carried out by experienced post-docs supervised by the PI. Furthermore, the comparative design of the project aims to uncover the shared logic of fascism, not abstractly but as embedded ideological process.

F-WORD proposes a new paradigm in the anthropological exploration of contemporary fascism, framed by the methodology of feminist ethnography, which will interrogate how specific methodological choices are involved in the process of knowledge- production and their epistemological consequences.
The ground-breaking nature of this project is twofold: one, it unveils the world behind fascism, and thus the diffusion and various appropriations of fascist practices and meanings among European youth; two, it employs feminist ethnography as a paradigm which itself opens up new and unexplored directions of research.