Since Oct 2018, I am working on my PhD thesis as part of the graduate school "Rightwing Populism - Authoritarian Developments, Far-Right Discourses and Democratic Responses", which is based at the University of Leipzig and the University of Cologne. (https://graduiertenkolleg-rechtspopulismus.de/)
My research project is based on the question in how far new rightwing movements in so called post-heroic societies are torn between the “Heroic” and the “Postheroic”. While the traditional far-right can be associated with an actively practiced hero and martyr worship, the relationship of new rightwing movements to the Heroic remains undertheorized. If it is mentioned at all, it is generally assumed that the old far-right hero cult remains unchanged. I doubt the validity of this claim. My research is based on the assumption that the far-right is, in fact, torn between a resurrection of heroic values and narratives as well as the longing for hero figures on the one hand, and a critique of the nostalgia for outdated forms of heroism on the other hand. In my analysis, I focus on heroic representations of new types of self-proclaimed “meme warriors” that are emerging on image boards such as reddit, 4chan, and 8chan. I am particularly interested in the internal contradictions of such heroic imagery that uses references to historical physical combat in order to honour contemporary online “warriors”. In order to define this new, often ironized, aesthetics of the Heroic, I am con-ducting a visual analysis of rightwing memes, which were circulated during the “Great Meme War”, by combining sociological image analysis drawing on Roswitha Breckner with depth-hermeneutic methods inspired by Alfred Lorenzer.
Working Paper available for download: "Saving Heroism in the Online Sphere – The Heroic in Far-Right Internet Memes", In: Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies Working Paper Series, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3zd6f7g9#main.
! T R I G G E R W A R N I N G !