Drawing from two decades of long-term ethnographic fieldwork and intensive interviewing with current and former far-right extremists, the presentation discusses what can be learned from this type of research as well as some of the ethical and practical difficulties associated with conducting fieldwork in this area of study. More specifically, Dr. Simi describes how an infrastructure of social-spatial contexts help sustain an extremist collective identity. He also addresses how these contexts are linked to the “alt-right” and the recent election of Donald Trump.
Pete Simi is Director of the Earl Babbie Research Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Chapman University. Dr. Simi has studied extremist groups and violence for the past 20 years, conducting interviews and observation with a range of violent gangs and political extremists. Simi is a member of the National Consortium in Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) which is a university-based research center committed to the scientific study of the causes and consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world. His research has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, National Science Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.
Simi’s is also co-author of an award-winning book manuscript, American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate and frequently serves as an expert legal consultant on criminal cases related to political extremism. He is currently working on a book manuscript under contract with the University of California Press that examines the domestic front in the “war on terror” tentatively titled: Sting: Inside the FBI’s Provocation of Terror.
This event was co-sponsored by the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) and the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE).