Sexual images and innuendo have become commonplace in contemporary advertising; they often fail to register in any meaningful way with the audience. This book examines the essentially racist stereotypes through which Irish people have conventionally been regarded have been increasingly challenged and even displaced perhaps by a sequence of rather more complimentary perspectives. The various developments that are signified within the figure of the Celtic Tiger might be considered to have radically altered the field of political possibility in Ireland. The enormous cuts in public expenditure that marked this period are held to have established a desirable, stable macroeconomic environment. The Celtic Tiger shows that one can use the rhetoric about 'social solidarity' while actually implementing policies which increase class polarisation. The book discusses the current hegemonic construction of Ireland as an open, cosmopolitan, multicultural, tourist-friendly society. The two central pieces of legislation which currently shape Irish immigration policy are the 1996 Refugee Act and the Immigration Bill of 1999. The book offers a critical examination of the realities of the Celtic Tiger for Irish women. Processes of nation state formation invariably invoke homogeneous narratives of ethnicity and national identity. To invoke a collective subject of contemporary Ireland rhetorically is to make such a strategic utopian political assumption. For the last few hundred years, the Gaeltacht has exemplified the crisis of Irish modernity. Culture becomes capital, and vice versa, while political action increasingly consists of the struggle to maintain democratic autonomy in the face of global market forces.
‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation. The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing. Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.
‘Not racist, not violent, just no
longer silent’: aspirations to non-racism
The EDL is widely represented and perceived as a ‘racist organisation’; it is considered to be such by three-quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed by Extremis/
YouGov in October 2012.1 The EDL itself publicly claims to oppose racism,
fascism and Nazism; this is encapsulated in the movement’s core slogan, ‘Not
racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ (see Figure 4.1).
There is a degree of academic consensus that the EDL is not a classic far
right organisation (see the
reinforce the reader’s stereotypes
and pander to the reader’s pre-existing images. It takes no effort to speak glibly
about a stereotype. … To present white racists as humans is not to approve their
ideas or their actions. But to picture them only in stereotype is to foolishly deny
ourselves knowledge. Effective action to combat racism requires honest enquiry.
Over the course of conducting and writing this research, I came to understand this as a political as well as an academic stance. Of course Kalra (2006:
466) is right to argue for the importance of
; Sawyer, 2000).
Since 2011, the Swedish public sphere has roared with debates around
cultural images of blackness. The release of the Swedish film Play (Ruben
Östlund, 2011) gave a spark to powerful critiques regarding racist, specifically
black stereotypes, on a broader scale than before. Play depicts two pre-teen
white middle-class boys who become the hostage of a group of black boys
and teenagers from the ‘suburbs’, who steal their phones in a shopping mall.
The white boys are taken from the mall and forced to spend a long humiliating day in
concerned that their
children might not be in a white-majority context as the other parents
were considering questions of feeling comfortable, rather than the
necessary context for building self-esteem in a society where raciststereotypes about black women persist.
The ethnic-minority parents in both Chorlton and Whalley Range
were generally (like the white parents) pleased with the primary
schools that their children were in. Fauzia, a Bangladeshi full-time
parent who had been in Britain since she was fifteen, described how
she particularly valued the approach of her
obtain full nationality and residency
rights was to apply for naturalisation after seven years living in the country.
The Nationality Acts of 1962 and 1968 were highly controversial and were the
first pieces of legislation which were thought to be ‘racist’ in their effect
(though governments argued they were not racist by intention). The reason
was that their effect mostly fell upon Afro-Caribbean and Asian peoples – i.e.
so-called ‘coloureds’. Would-be white skinned immigrants from Australia, New
Zealand, Canada or South Africa could usually find at least a British
The ethics and politics of research with the ‘far right’
straight teenager and a gay couple holding
the EDL flag. Call us homophobes now! ;-)’ (field diary, 23 March 2013). The
field diary entry captures my concerns and reflections on how my presence in the
group produces material and symbolic artefacts which have consequences; in this
case this photograph was used to undermine stereotypes of the EDL being antigay and I wondered whether I had been naive to send it. However, the posting
made no reference to any ‘authority’ lent the representation because the photo
had been taken by an outsider, and the image was a genuine
Transgressing the cordon sanitaire: understanding the English Defence League as a social movement
the ghetto of studies of the
‘far right’, is neither an adequate nor an effective answer to the questions raised
by their emergence. It recognises that to do otherwise – to treat such movements as articulating not only the ignorant prejudice of the marginalised but their
experience and perceptions of justice and injustice, equality and inequality – has
political implications also. Those implications, it is argued, however, are not the
condoning or legitimation of racist or Islamophobic attitudes. Transgressing the
cordon sanitaire signals, rather, a commitment to
racism are not, however, unique to Irish society but mirror – albeit within a different time scale – the earlier development of exclusionary policies
and racism in other parts of Europe during and after the mid-1970s. Yet
the exclusionary and racist processes within Irish society have assumed
a specific configuration unlike that in most other developed nation states.
The development of anti-immigrant policies and the increase in racism
Racism, immigration and the state
have challenged the belief that the colonialism and