This was a ‘light’ year for me at the annual Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) meetings. I only gave one paper, as a part of the session titled “Excavating Reaction and Regression: American Conservatism in Material Perspective.” My paper was titled “A Second Life for the Alt-Right: Uses of Conservative Material Culture in Online Spaces,” which you can watch below.
Abstract: The use of social media as an organizing space for the alt-right has received considerable attention since the election of Donald Trump. The alt-right refers to those loosely-affiliated groups that share a far-right ideology intersecting white nationalism. This paper examines how these groups use other forms of new media. The alt-right has long used online worlds such as Second Life to promote their nationalist ideology. Employing a netnographic approach, the author explores the continued rise of alt-right users in Second Life and other online communities, and discusses how they utilize virtual versions of conservative materialism to promote their ideology. Specific topics discussed will include the use of racial slurs online, situational use of anonymity, and threats of violence against minority groups and their allies. The paper ends with a call to embrace memes and other online symbols to combat racism.