Bringing together scholars, policy makers and practitioners from around the world, this symposium will analyze the roots and understand the reach of the far-right in the United States. The goal of this symposium is to facilitate learning and collaboration to support the identification of strategies to stop the spread and break the hold of broadly defined far-right movements in our political and social systems. As part of this endeavor, we set out to examine topics like the historical roots of white supremacy in the U.S., the process of radicalization, the mechanisms of ideological spread, and the growing legitimacy of far-right ideologies due to its permeation through many aspects of our daily lives. Scholars will present their research in panels, taking questions from the audience; followed by practitioners and policymakers leading conversations that put scholarship into practice. The symposium will conclude with a final panel that will invite the presenters, responders, and audience to brainstorm ways in which we can all challenge, in our own ways and in our own corners of the world, the far-right movement.
This is a two half-day virtual symposium on October 12 and 13, 2022.
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8:30 a.m. | Welcome and introductions
- Laura Dugan - Ralph Mershon Professor of Human Security and Professor of Sociology
9:00-10:30 a.m. | Panel 1 - “Roots of Far-Right Extremism”
- Carmen Thompson - The History of Whiteness in America
- Adriane Lentz-Smith - Anti-Black Violence by Whites
- Jason Staley - Antisemitic Roots of the Far-Right
- Shose Kessi - Institutional Legacies of White Supremacies in South Africa
10:30-11:00 a.m. | Responders to Panel 1
- Georges Benjamin, Felicia Brabec, TM Garret, Rik Legault
11:00-12:30 p.m. | Panel 2 - “How it Spreads”
- Victoria Gurevich - "Radicalization: How Does Far-Right Extremism Happen"
- Merrill Kaplan - "Story, News, Snark, Joke: Narrative in Circulation"
- Ashley Mattheis - "Marketing and Consuming Hate: Digital Platform Strategies of the Far-Right and the Manosphere"
- Andrea Peto - "Modus Operandi of the Illiberal Poypore State: Lessons From Hungary?"
12:30-1:00 p.m. | Responders to Panel 2
- Georges Benjamin, Felicia Brabec, TM Garret, Rik Legault
1:00 p.m. | Closing Comments
8:30 a.m. | Brief Introduction
- Laura Dugan - Ralph Mershon Professor of Human Security
9:00-10:30 a.m. | Panel 3 - "Where it Spreads"
- Daren Fisher - "The Predation and Inertia of Conspiracy Theories"
- Marilyn Mayo - "How Extremism has been Mainstreamed within the Conservative Movement"
- Todd Helmus - " The Far-Right's Penetration into the Military"
- Esther Solano Gallego - "The Different Elements of Bolsonarism from Society to Politics: Understanding the Fight Back"
10:30-11:00 a.m. | Responders to Panel 3
- Georges Benjamin, Felicia Brabec, TM Garret, Rik Legault
11:00-12:30 p.m. | Panel 4 - "Brainstorming on Solutions"
- Full panelist discussion
12:30 p.m. | Closing discussion on next steps
Laura Dugan | The Ohio State University
Laura Dugan is Ralph D. Mershon Professor of Human Security and Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University. Her research is motivated by the broader question of how leaders can reduce or enhance the risk of violence and other types of insecurities due to extremist ideologies and hateful intent. This work requires open-source data collection to capture more subtle day-to-day activities by leaders across the globe. As such, Dr. Dugan is co-co-principal investigator of the Government Actions in Terrorist Environments (GATE) datasets. The GATE data record government actions related to terrorists and their constituencies for a select set of countries since 1987. She is also a founding co-principal investigator for the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the most comprehensive terrorism database available, as it records all known attacks across the globe since 1970 Furthermore, she also designs methodological strategies to overcome data limitations inherent in the social sciences.
Victoria Gurevich | The Ohio State University
Victoria Gurevich is a PhD candidate in the political science department at Ohio State University. Her primary research interests are in (de-) radicalization, ideologically motivated violence, and countering violent extremism. Her research balances academic focus and policy relevance, she has authored academic articles, methodological manuals, and op-eds. Victoria’s dissertation examines state decision-making with regards to foreign national repatriation from the Islamic State, analyzing the factors and forces at play within states that are faced with the decision of whether or not to return their citizens who are suspected of affiliation with ISIS. She is also currently engaged in research on public perceptions of violent extremism, specifically when motivated by far-right violence, and the contemporary political dimensions of white supremacy. Prior to beginning a graduate program at OSU, she was a consultant with International Crisis Group for the Russia and North Caucasus Program where she worked on issues of deradicalization and countering violent extremism.
Georges Benjamin | Executive Director of the American Public Health Association
Georges Benjamin is known as one of the nation’s most influential physician leaders because he speaks passionately and eloquently about the health issues having the most impact on our nation today. From his firsthand experience as a physician, he knows what happens when preventive care is not available and when the healthy choice is not the easy choice. As executive director of APHA since 2002, he is leading the Association’s push to make America the healthiest nation in one generation.
He came to APHA from his position as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Benjamin became secretary of health in Maryland in April 1999, following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. As secretary, Benjamin oversaw the expansion and improvement of the state’s Medicaid program.
Benjamin, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine and a master of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a fellow emeritus of the American College of Emergency Physicians, an honorary fellow of the Facility of Public Health and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health.
Dr. Benjamin is a former member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a council that advises the president on how best to assure the security of the nation's critical infrastructure.
Felicia Brabec | Michigan State Representative, 55th House District
State Representative Felicia Brabec is serving her first term representing the 55th House District, which encompasses portions of Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor City (parts of wards 1, 2, and 5) Ann Arbor Township, Milan City, Pittsfield Township (part), and all of Augusta and York Townships.
Dr. Brabec is a practicing clinical psychologist with a masters degree in Clinical Social Work, with over two decades of experience. As a practicing psychologist, she sees up close how decisions made by our state government affects peoples’ everyday lives and has pledged to bring the full breadth of her experience with clients to the bargaining table every day.
TM Garret | Human Rights Activist, Former White Supremacist
TM Garret Schmid (born Achim Schmid) and publicly known as TM Garret is an Extremism Researcher and Analyst at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE).
He is a German-American Public Speaker, Human Rights Activist, Consultant, Author, Extremism Researcher, Interfaith Activist and founder of C.H.A.N.G.E, a non-profit organization which engages in anti-racism and anti-violence campaigns, food drives, inter-faith work as well as an EXIT program which helps individuals leave extremist groups and ERASING THE HATE, a nationwide tattoo campaign and movement that covers up racist and hate tattoos for free. He is also the organizer of the Memphis Peace Conference in 2018 and founder of “Share a Meal Pledge.” Before he started engaging in Civil Rights work, TM Garret was a White Supremacist in leading roles in Europe and the USA. He left this lifestyle and ideology for good in 2003.
Richard L. Legault | Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, S&T
Richard L. Legault, Ph.D. (ST) is the Senior Advisor for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Science at the Science & Technology Directorate at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His office is responsible for scientific advisement to DHS, technical direction of S&T programs, and fundamental research on a broad range of topics such as Terrorism and Targeted Violence Prevention, Countering Foreign Influence Campaigns, Countering Human Trafficking, and technology acceptance in public agencies. He has previously served as the Director of the Office for Public Safety Research and various other positions at S&T. Prior to the Department of homeland Security, he was an associate research scientist and co-director of the Terrorism and Preparedness Data Resource Center (TPDRC), Empirical Analysis of Improvised Explosive Devices Project, and a statistical and methodological advisor for a number of other projects at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany where he also was assistant editor of the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics. Dr. Legault has published several scientific research articles, book chapters, and reports as well as one book on a range of issues addressing quantitative analyses of social science data including terrorism, survey analysis, policy evaluation, data usage and measurement, and violence-reduction strategies.
Daren Fisher | RTI
Daren Fisher is a Research Criminologist at RTI International. His research interests include the relationship between government actions and subsequent terrorism, criminological theory, policing, and crime prevention. Dr. Fisher specializes in empirically testing the predictions of criminological theory to better inform government policies that aim to reduce crime using econometric methods and qualitative approaches.
Dr. Fisher has published articles in Annual Review of Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, the European Journal of Criminology, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Women & Criminal Justice, and the American Journal of Criminal Justice. He has also authored book chapters on Desistance from Terrorism (Routledge, eds. M. Haner and M. Sloan), Sociological and Criminological Explanations of Terrorism (Oxford University Press, eds. E. Chenoweth, A. Gofas, R. English, and S. Kalyvas) and the Emergence of Classical Criminological Theory (Wiley, ed. R. Triplett).
Todd Helmus | RAND
Todd C. Helmus is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and a member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. He specializes in disinformation, terrorism, and social media. Helmus' latest research focuses on ways to counter Russian disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe and assess the impact of international counter violent extremism campaigns. His research also focuses on preventing violent extremism in the U.S. military, identifying ways to enlist key influencers in support of U.S. strategic communications, and detecting and countering online conspiracy theories. Helmus has served as a deployed advisor to U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan and led studies on U.S. efforts to train Afghan special operations forces. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Wayne State University.
Merrill Kaplan | The Ohio State University
Merrill Kaplan is Associate Professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at the Ohio State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where her studies focused on Old Norse literature. Medieval Iceland is still the center of her research, but she is interested more broadly in the way communities informally debate the significance of the narratives they circulate. Those communities might be in 13th-century Iceland, where medieval Christians retold and reused pre-Christian myths to their own ends, or on the 21st-century Internet, where individuals engage with contemporary belief narrative, rumor, and conspiracy theory. She has also presented and published on far-right weaponization of Old Norse cultural goods. Her work has appeared in journals and series like the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Scandinavian Studies, the Journal of Folklore Research, and Folklore Fellows Communications.
Shose Kessi | University of Cape Town
Shose Kessi is Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town; Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology; and co-director of the Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa. Her research centers on political psychology, community-based empowerment and social change. A key focus is the development of Photovoice methodology as a participatory action research tool that can raise consciousness and mobilize community groups into social action. She has published on the psychology of racism in higher education and other decolonial and pan-African approaches to psychology. Shose completed her PhD in 2010 in Organizational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and joined UCT in 2011. She was the UCT Mandela fellow at the WEB DuBois Research Institute, Hutchins Centre, Harvard University for 2014; and visiting scholar in the Department of Behavioral and Psychological Sciences at the LSE in 2017. Shose is one of the founding members and first chairperson of the UCT Black Academic Caucus and served on the VC’s Special Executive Task Team in 2016. She has also been Deputy Dean for Transformation in the Humanities Faculty.
Adriane Lentz-Smith | Duke University
Adriane Lentz-Smith is Associate Professor of History at Duke University, where she also holds appointments in African & African American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. A scholar of modern U. S. history and histories of the Black Freedom Struggle, she writes about African Americans’ entanglements with U.S. power in the long twentieth century. Her book Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Harvard, 2009) examines Black soldiers as agents and emblems a long civil rights movement, with the Great War as a central moment. Her book-in-progress, “The Slow Death of Sagon Penn: State Violence and the Twilight of Civil Rights,” traces the devastating aftermath of one young man’s encounter with the police in 1980s San Diego. The book explores how state violence and white supremacy reconstituted each other in the wake of the civil rights gains of the 1960s. Her work also has appeared in such journals as Southern Cultures, Modern American History, and American Quarterly.
Lentz-Smith works to bring scholars into conversation with broad publics. She has contributed to various radio programs and podcasts as well as several documentary films, including the prize-winning Jazz Ambassadors, and the American Experience documentaries, The Great War, Voice of Freedom, and American Diplomat. As a senior fellow in Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics, she hosts the community conversations series, “The Ethics of Now,” which brings authors, journalists, policy makers, and scholars to Durham to discuss matters of pressing importance to the North Carolina community and beyond. Lentz-Smith sits on the editorial boards of Modern American History and Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. She holds a BA in History from Harvard-Radcliffe and a PhD in History from Yale University.
Ashley Mattheis | Swansea University
Ashley A. Mattheis is a postdoctoral researcher at the Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC) at Swansea University. Her work brings together cultural studies, media studies, and rhetorical criticism, through the lens of feminist theory to explore the material effects of cultural production and consumption online. Her areas of inquiry include the digital cultures of the ‘Momosphere,’ the Alt-Right, the ‘Manosphere,’ and #Tradwives with a goal of better understanding how gendered logics are used to promote racial hate, discrimination, and to promote violence. Her publications include: Atomwaffen Division and its Affiliates on Telegram: Variations, Practices, and Interconnections a report for the Resolve Network, “#TradCulture: Reproducing Whiteness and Neofascism through Gendered Discourse Online,” in the Routledge Handbook of Critical Studies in Whiteness,” “Shieldmaidens of Whiteness: (Alt)Maternalism and Women Recruiting for the Far/Alt-Right,” in the Journal for Deradicalization, and ‘The Greatness of Her Position’: Comparing Identitarian and Jihadi Discourses on Women, a report published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Marilyn Mayo | Anti-Defamation League
Marilyn Mayo is a Senior Research Fellow at ADL’s Center on Extremism. She had been with the ADL for 25 years, having previously served as the Co-Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism and the Associate Director of Investigative Research at ADL.
Ms. Mayo is an expert on right-wing extremists in the United States, ranging from white supremacists to academic racists to anti-immigrant groups. She often speaks to the media and law enforcement about the activities of hate groups and movements across the country. She has worked on numerous reports for ADL and writes regularly for the organization’s blog.
Ms. Mayo received her B.A. from Barnard College in New York and her M.A. from the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Andrea Pető | Central European University
Andrea Pető is a historian and a Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University, Vienna, Austria, a Research Affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest, and a Doctor of Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her works on gender, politics, Holocaust, and war have been translated into 23 languages. In 2018 she was awarded the 2018 All European Academies (ALLEA) Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values. She is Doctor Honoris Causa of Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden. Recent publications include: The Women of the Arrow Cross Party. Invisible Hungarian Perpetrators in the Second World War. Palgrave, Macmillan, 2020. And Forgotten Massacre: Budapest 1944. DeGruyter, 2021. She writes op-ed pieces for many international and national media.
Jason Stanley | Yale University
Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Before coming to Yale in 2013, he was Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Stanley is the author of Know How; Languages in Context; Knowledge and Practical Interests, which won the American Philosophical Association book prize; and How Propaganda Works, which won the PROSE Award for Philosophy from the Association of American Publishers. He writes about authoritarianism, propaganda, free speech, mass incarceration, and other topics for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Review, The Guardian, Project Syndicate and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications.
Esther Solano | Federal University of São Paulo
Esther Solano is Professor of International Relations at Federal University of São Paulo and teaches in the Master program on Latin America and the European Union at The University of Alcalá (Spain). Among other publications she has recently edited in Brazil: Is there a way out? Critical essays on Brazil (2017), Hate as politics (2018), Brazil in collapse (2019) and co authored the book The Bolsonaro paradox (2021).
Carmen Thompson | Independent Scholar of History
Dr. Carmen P. Thompson is a historian, independent scholar and consultant on the Black experience and Whiteness in America. Dr. Thompson earned her PhD in U.S. History from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her Masters of Arts in African American Studies from Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Thompson has taught a wide range of courses on the Black experience and Whiteness at Portland State University and Portland Community College, including American slavery, Black feminism and race and racism. She has held visiting scholar appointments at the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University in New York and at Portland State University. She is the author of the forthcoming book, The Making of American Whiteness: The Formation of Race in Seventeenth Century Virginia, which examines the origins of Whiteness in America. Dr. Thompson is a member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal, the Oregon Historical Quarterly, where she co-edited and authored articles in the journal’s December 2019 special issue on White supremacy in Oregon. And, she wrote the introduction to the forthcoming book Protest City, a photo book that chronicles the year long protests in Portland, Oregon aft the murder of George Floyd in 2020.