Is Far-right Violence a Threat to the West?

Thursday, October 5, 2023, 10:00–11:00am EDT // 16:00–17:00 CEST

Dr. Josefin Graef, DAAD/AGI Research Fellow

Mr. Hans Kundnani, Chatham House

Both Germany and the United States have declared far-right violence the biggest domestic extremist threat to liberal democracy. The Biden administration and the Scholz-led government have also pushed for a public dialogue about the historical and social roots of this violence in their countries amidst a tense political climate. At the same time, however, violent far-right networks are increasingly shifting from a purely nationalist perspective towards the idea of defending the white Christian West against its enemies: (Muslim) immigrants and the domestic elites that conspire with them against their own people. This challenges the transatlantic community to think about the problem of far-right violence in different, more international terms. Is far-right violence a threat to the “West” as a whole, as the Munich Security Conference asserted in 2020? If so, what does this mean for different countries and their particular relationship to the “West” – including Germany and the United States?

This webinar analyses these questions by drawing on the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, the well-known U.S. theologian of German descent. What can Niebuhr’s thinking about power, ethics, and identity, published in a wide range of sermons, articles, and books from the 1920s to the 1960s, teach us about the potential and limits of the world community in confronting far-right violence today?

Dr. Josefin Graef

Dr. Josefin Graef is a narrative scholar focusing on the place of far-right violence and terrorism in the social and political imagination of the European and global “West” since the end of the Second World War. Dr. Graef holds a PhD in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Birmingham. She is a visiting researcher at the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University in Birmingham and was a Dahrendorf Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hertie School in Berlin from 2018 to 2019. From 2017 to 2023 she co-convened the German Politics Specialist Group of the UK Political Studies Association (PSA).

This event is supported by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Foreign Office.