Fascism and Physiognomy
This book project draws on qualitative digital data I previously collected between 2017-2022, bringing it in conversation with the histories of American racism and European fascism, to show how a renewed use of eugenics-focused pseudoscience philosophies by far-right religious actors online is part of the dangerous opportunities afforded to ideological connectivity by digital technology. In doing so, the project illuminates how far-right conceptions of the body and personhood that are intimately tied to the pseudoscience of physiognomy (reading facial features or traits), the history of racism, and the disciplinary structures of political authority are technological transmitted, curated, and cultivated through social media use. The final outcome of drawing together these issues will result in a crossover academic/trade publication that offers insights into how digital social media is used by far-right actors to create a form of vernacular biometrics, that is crowd sourced social curation, aimed at identifying marginalized social actors for ill intent. Ultimately, the book will show how the social and moral securitization of digital spaces is part of a larger project of religiously motivated expressions of political authority focused on reconfiguring the American political substrata through technological means.
Far-right religious social media users often use this derogatory query in reference to someone they believe should not be part of their group; Blacks. Gays. Jews. Feminists. The lists of “etic” parties are most often based on visual and biographical verification or what I term vernacular biometrics.
Using my previously collected digital data sets, in conversation with the histories of American racism and European fascism, my project shows how the renewed focus on physiognomy among far-right religious social media users is part of technological reconfiguration and mobilization of political propaganda and social bigotry with deep historic traction.