2018 The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany (Princeton University Press)
The past decade has witnessed a steady increase in far right politics, social movements, and extremist violence in Europe. Scholars and policymakers have struggled to understand the causes and dynamics that have made the far right so appealing to so many people- in other words, that have made the extreme more mainstream. In this book, Cynthia Miller-Idriss examines how extremist ideologies have entered mainstream German culture through commercialized products and clothing laced with extremist, anti-Semitic, racist, and nationalist coded symbols and references. Drawing on a unique digital archive of thousands of historical and contemporary images, as well as scores of interviews with young people and their teachers in two German vocational schools with histories of extremist youth presence, Miller-Idriss shows how this commercialization is part of a radical transformation happening today in German far right youth subculture. She describes how these youths have gravitated away from the singular, hard-edged skinhead style in favor of sophisticated and fashionable commercial brands that deploy coded extremist symbols. Virtually indistinguishable in style from other clothing popular with youth, the new brands desensitize far right consumers to extremist ideas and dehumanize victims. Required reading for anyone concerned about the global resurgence of the far right, The Extreme Gone Mainstream reveals how style and aesthetic representation serve as one gateway into extremist scenes and subcultures by helping to strengthen racist and nationalist identification and by acting as conduits of resistance to mainstream society. Watch an author video produced by SSRC about the book here, read an author Q&A here or the transcription from an interview with Dr. Miller-Idriss about the book here or here. A video of one of the book talks (at the University of California Berkeley, April 2019) is available here.
Reviews: Pacific Standard (February 2018); Europe Now (March 2018); monitor (April 2018); LSE Review of Books (July 2018); EuropeNow (October 2018); Journal of Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society (November 2018)
2018 Seeing the World: How US Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era (Princeton University Press, with co-authors Mitchell Stevens and Seteney Shami)
US universities have always endeavored to be cosmopolitan places, yet the disciplines of economics, political science, and sociology have remained stubbornly parochial. Despite decades of government and philanthropic investment in international scholarship, the most prestigious departments consistently favor expertise on the United States. Why? Organized around the study of Middle East and related regional area studies research centers, Seeing the World offers a window onto an otherwise elusive academy, drawing on candid interviews with scores of top scholars to understand how international inquiry is perceived and rewarded within US universities. It explains how the intense competition for tenure-line appointments encourages faculty to pursue “American” projects that are most likely to likely to garner occupational advancement – for their students, and themselves. Meanwhile, constrained by tight budgets at home, university leaders eagerly court patrons and clients worldwide but have a hard time getting social scientists to join the program. This dynamic deeply shapes how social science about the rest of the world evolves. At once a work-and-occupations study of scholarly disciplines, an essay on the formal organization of knowledge, and an inquiry into the fate and future of area studies, Seeing the World brings an arcane academy vividly to life. Lucidly written and deftly theorized, it is a must-read anyone who cares about the future of social knowledge in a global era. See author videos by clicking here or here; read an interview with Miller-Idriss about the book and its theoretical implications here.
2019 Gender and the Radical and Extreme Right: Mechanisms of Transmission and The Role of Educational Interventions (Routledge, with co-editor Hilary Pilkington)
Gender and the Radical and Extreme Right takes up an important and often over-looked intersection across scholarship on the radical right, gender, and education. These subfields have mostly operated independent of one another, and the scholars and practitioners who attend to educational interventions on the far right rarely address gender directly, while the growing body of scholarship on gender and the far right typically overlooks the issue of educational implications. This edited volume steps into this space, bringing together seven chapters and an afterward to help readers rethink the educational implications of research on gender and the radical right. As a starting point for future dialogue and research across previously disparate subfields, this volume highlights education as one space where such an integration may be seen as a fruitful avenue for further exploration. This book was originally published as a special issue of the journal Gender and Education.
2016 Middle East Studies for the New Millennium: Infrastructures of Knowledge. (New York University Press, with co-editor Seteney Shami)
Few world regions today are of more pressing social and political interest than the Middle East: hardly a day has passed in the last decade without events there making global news. Understanding the region has never been more important, yet the field of Middle East studies in the United States is in flux, enmeshed in ongoing controversies about the relationship between knowledge and power, the role of the federal government at universities, and ways of knowing “other” cultures and places. Assembling a wide range of scholars immersed in the transformations of their disciplines and the study of this world region, Middle East Studies for the New Millennium explores the big-picture issues affecting the field, from the geopolitics of knowledge production to structural changes in the university to broader political and public contexts. Tracing the development of the field from the early days of the American university to the “Islamophobia” of the present day, this book explores Middle East studies as a discipline and, more generally, its impact on the social sciences and academia. Topics include how different disciplines engage with Middle East scholars, how American universities teach Middle East studies and related fields, and the relationship between scholarship and U.S.-Arab relations, among others. Middle East Studies for the New Millennium presents a comprehensive, authoritative overview of how this crucial field of academic inquiry came to be and where it is going next.
2009 Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany. Duke University Press.
Over the past decade, immigration and globalization have significantly altered Europe’s cultural and ethnic landscape, foregrounding questions of national belonging. In Blood and Culture, Cynthia Miller-Idriss provides a rich ethnographic analysis of how patterns of national identity are constructed and transformed across generations. Drawing on research she conducted at German vocational schools between 1999 and 2004, Miller-Idriss examines how the working-class students and their middle-class, college-educated teachers wrestle with their different views about citizenship and national pride. The cultural and demographic trends in Germany are broadly indicative of those underway throughout Europe, yet the country’s role in the Second World War and the Holocaust makes national identity, and particularly national pride, a difficult issue for Germans. Because the vocational-school teachers are mostly members of a generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s and hold their parents’ generation responsible for National Socialism, many see national pride as symptomatic of fascist thinking. Their students, on the other hand, want to take pride in being German. Miller-Idriss describes a new understanding of national belonging emerging among young Germans—one in which cultural assimilation takes precedence over blood or ethnic heritage. Moreover, she argues that teachers’ well-intentioned, state-sanctioned efforts to counter nationalist pride often create a backlash, making radical right-wing groups more appealing to their students. Miller-Idriss argues that the state’s efforts to shape national identity are always tempered and potentially transformed as each generation reacts to the official conception of what the nation “ought” to be.