Current Research Project

Researching White nationalism

During the 2016 presidential election cycle, news media and pundits began to increase their discussion and coverage of the so-called “alt-right” as a new offshoot of white nationalism. The alt-right is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “… a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity' is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization” (Southern Poverty Law Center 2016).

Breitbart News contributors Allum Bohkhari and Milo Yiannopoulus, however, explain that true alt-righters are intellectuals and “natural conservatives” who hold a “preference for homogeneity over diversity” and are “embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic” (Bohkhari and Yiannopoulus 2016). The alt-right includes groups and individuals sometimes affiliated with white nationalist, white supremacist, or white separatist ideologies. Some prominent members of these organizations believe that the election of Donald Trump has opened up avenues for advancing their ideals even though Mr. Trump has publicly rejected specific white identity groups (Mascaro 2016).

At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Dr. Cliff had the opportunity to speak with some alt-right protesters, hearing their viewpoints and philosophy as opposed to what is published in the mainstream media. These conversations re-ignited an earlier interest she had while teaching political science at the University of Idaho. This led to her current research project. The purpose of this research is to reach out to and interview as many of the leaders of white nationalist groups, thought leaders in the movement, and publicly outspoken supporters as possible, to discuss and understand their ideologies, political goals, views on American politics, and where the various individuals believe their groups and/or movement is headed.

In 2020 Dr. Cliff was pleased to add Meili Criezis as a second researcher to the project to add another perspective to the interviews and analysis.