This article examines the Alternative für Deutschland's (AfD) racist, nationalist, and far-right discursive strategies in the lead-up to the 2017 federal election. Rather than taking the approach that this party constitutes a “new nationalism” that is out of touch with mainstream conceptions of German nationhood, the article depicts the ways in which the recognizability of the AfD's anti-Muslim racism was predicated on mainstream civilizationist discursive repertoires and the rise of the populist-nationalist right. To do so, I compare themes presented by legal experts and mainstream politicians in favor of banning veiling in the mid-2000s to the civilizationist claims made by the AfD between 2015 and 2017. This article thus extends case analyses of contemporary right-wing nationalist and populist movements to Germany. It also emphasizes the antecedents of the “new nationalism” classification applied to such movements.
J Sterphone is is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their dissertation explores the co-constitution of race and nation in contemporary Germany, asking if and how race matters for understandings of German nationhood in mainstream German society. Moreover, they study how Germans maintain an orientation to the notion that Germany is a “space free of race” while nevertheless contending with a range of ways in which racial categories can be deployed to provide potentially consequential justifications for social action. Their dissertation research employs conversation analysis and ethnomethodologically informed discourse analysis to examine the ways in which everyday members (re)produce racial and national common sense. Their work on racial categories and nationalist-populist politics in Germany has been featured in the journal Patterns of Prejudice and the edited volume Populist Nationalism in Europe and the Americas (2018).