The Curse of Relevance: Challenges Facing Right-Wing Studies

The Journal of Right-Wing Studies. Special Issue Call for Papers.

Title: The Curse of Relevance: Challenges Facing Right-Wing Studies
Due date: May 15, 2023
Guest editors: A.J. Bauer, Isis Giraldo, and Clara Juarez Miro

When speaking of their work, researchers of right-wing ideologies, movements, and media hear a familiar refrain: “Oh! That’s so relevant!” While the right’s resurgence is perhaps a blessing in terms of renewed interest in and support for their work, many right-wing studies scholars would much rather their topic remained a marginal phenomenon. But if the urgency of studying the global right is beyond doubt, doing so presents unique theoretical and methodological challenges for researchers, not to mention enhanced vulnerability to physical and psychological harm.

The theoretical, methodological, ethical, and emotional challenges scholars face are unique to the examination of this amorphous and difficult-to-define subject. These challenges regard, for example, researchers’ own ideological positions, the perspectives granted or occluded by their own identities, their participants’ elusiveness or opposition, the consequences of being targeted, and the judgments and expectations from academic peers and public opinion.

Thus, for this special issue, we seek articles that identify, assess, or begin to advance solutions for challenges unique to the study of “the right.”  

We are especially interested in articles that examine the following topics:

  • Political exigencies: What do people expect right-wing studies to do politically, and what strategies are there for navigating those expectations?
  • Thinking beyond “false consciousness”: When do we take right-wing actors’ claims at face value, and when do we ascribe them to other (supposedly more “real”) motives?
  • The abyss stares back: What happens, and what should you do, when you are targeted by your subjects?
  • Avoiding presentism: How do we understand the right’s historical transformations? How do we balance the need to contextualize past movements in their time and place with the need to allow the past to inform the present?
  • Burnout: What are the physical, emotional, and psychological risks of this work?
  • What is the purpose of critique? How should we address the tensions between understanding the right dispassionately and judging the right as harmful? What is the role of advocacy and activism in research? What are the challenges of approaching knowledge production as political praxis? Who is the audience for such research?
  • New right, new methods: Especially in the digital age, have new technologies amplified the possibilities for right-wing action and engagement away from public scrutiny?
  • Challenging terminology: Which concepts have the most explanatory power? Which are misapplied or used too broadly? Are the dominant concepts and -isms in right-wing studies too Eurocentric? Does the West need to be provincialized in study of the right rather than (as is often the case) put in the center of the discussion? What decolonizing perspectives are needed in study of the right?
  • National and international contexts: How do we balance national (or even local) contexts with the reality of transnational influences and networking?
  • Access: How do we handle archival gaps and the destruction of materials? Are there challenges in building rapport with right-wing actors, or accessing right-wing institutions?

Other topics that contribute to an understanding of right-wing studies as a field with particular challenges are also welcome.

Articles should normally be between 8,000 and 12,000 words (including notes or references), and should follow the Journal of Right-Wing Studies’ submission guidelines(link is external). Submissions should be sent to the guest editors’ attention at (JRWS.submissions /at/ (link sends e-mail). The due date for submitting articles is May 15, 2023.

Note: no payment from the authors will be required.

Questions regarding potential submissions should be directed to the guest editors:

A.J. Bauer: Assistant Professor, University of Alabama, (ajbauer2 /at/ (link sends e-mail)

Isis Giraldo: Lecturer, University of Lausanne, (isis.giraldo /at/ (link sends e-mail)

Clara Juarez Miro: Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Vienna, (clara.juarez.miro /at/