In the early 1980s, right-wing populist parties and movements began to schedule an impressive comeback throughout a growing number of democratic countries (Betz and Immerfall, 1998). Since then, these groups have (re)presented their ideas primarily through a fast diamesic process of discourse construction and deconstruction with the primary purpose of mobilizing and exploiting popular resentments against immigrants, minorities, and the political establishment. The recent global rise of right-wing and its calls for national unity against a common enemy has revived anti-minority and anti-gender animus. This can be easily seen in slogans such as Trump’s “Make America Great Again”, Orbán’s “Hungary First”, Kaczynski’s “There is only one Poland”, and Bolsonaro’s “Brazil above everything, God above everyone”. As Graff, Kapur, and Walters (2019, 551) highlight, “these calls for national revival and unity invariably include appeals to […] a sturdy masculinity, […] heterosexuality as the only acceptable norm […] and discipline”. As a direct consequence of such rhetoric manoeuvres, gender equality and sexual liberation have become a stronghold of right-wing extremism, coalescing disparate political actors, civil society groups and institutions around the globe. These different but strangely entwined phenomena have forged a moral crusade that attempts to strengthen modern (seemingly outdated) ideals such as the nuclear family and the nation. Interestingly, these discourses repeat formula, contents, slogans and tropes that seem to travel transnationally but are, nonetheless, locally adapted within national borders. In Colombia, the peace referendum of 2016 was rejected and negotiations with the FARC were hampered on the grounds that these changes would lead to a flexibilization of gender norms. The Brazilian ultraconservative far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro became president due to his vitriolic speeches against women and LGBTIQ+ individuals so much so that he singled out the fight against “gender ideology” as a political platform in his inauguration speech. In Hungary, gender studies programmes have been dismantled. In France, Spain, Slovenia and Italy, self-identified guardians of good morals (Strazarji, Sentinelle in Piedi, les Sentinelles) have publicly demonstrated their dissatisfaction at progressive laws on same-sex marriage and abortion.
In this scenario, this forthcoming issue of Anglistica AION aims to present a systematic consideration of the political agenda and discourses of contemporary right-wing extremist movements by looking at the discursive (de)constructions of gender and gender non-conforming developments, in the distant but associated contexts of Europe and Latin America. In particular, the editors are interested in bringing to the fore not only the recurring right-wing extremist discourses on the building of transnational networking but above all the ways and reasons these networks choose their specific victims/targets in an analogous transnational way. The contributors will, therefore, analyse the contemporary right-wing extremist tendencies to redefine and often arrest gender developments in the multimodal discourses such movements craftily construct. This edited volume, in fact, intends to investigate the linguistic and semiotic practices enacted by right-wing extremist groups, politicians, institutions, organizations and movements within a gender-specific perspective. All papers will look at right-wing extremist discourses and counter-discourses on gender and sexuality with a view to understanding their constitution in order to highlight the challenges they pose to democracies.
Possible areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:
- The discursive strategies used by right-wing extremists to canvass the population’s support against gender equity;
- The discursive and semiotic infrastructure of fake news on gender and sexuality and their role constituting disinformation orders and moral panic;
- The reconfiguration of what is politically doable and sayable in the public sphere and its relation with processes of de-democratization;
- The production of affective polarization through rhetorics of division in which gender and sexuality take centre stage;
- The discursive production of concepts such as “gender ideology”, “gender theory”, “genderism”, “gender lobby” and their material effects on a variety of contexts (e.g., politics, education, foreign affairs, the media, etc.);
- The transnational circulation of right-wing extremist discourses and ideologies against gender equity and sexual liberation and how they are localized within specific national borders;
- The intersections of racism, xenophobia, sexism, ableism, homophobia and other oppressive discourses within right-wing extremism;
- The production of counter-discourses and practices of resistance to right-wing extremist anti-gender and anti-LGBTIQ+ stance;
- The repurposing of progressive vocabulary (e.g., gender, freedom of speech, human rights, etc.) in order to advance reactionary worldviews.
The global rise of the far-right with its ensuing strategies and political consequences currently stands as a crucial issue that cuts across geographical and disciplinary boundaries. This special issue is particularly interested in the discursive and linguistic dimensions of this phenomenon. Understanding the infrastructure of far-right discourses requires an interdisciplinary spectrum of approaches which includes, but is not limited to, critical discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, multimodal (critical) discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, political discourse analysis, queer linguistics, among others. This special issue welcomes empirical papers focusing on the variegated discursive hues and shapes of far-right movements with a view to delineating the affordances and challenges that attention to language-in-use brings to the analysis of the current state of democracies worldwide.