Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Frankish Racists are ... Anglo-Saxons???

UPDATED with the French and clarifications.

Marine Le Pen made an interesting claim for those of us tracking the use of history to bolster European racism:
France’s presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has told a far-right conference “2016 was the year the Anglo Saxon world woke up”.
The Front National leader was among anti-immigration and populist parties who gathered at a conference dubbed the “European counter-summit” in Koblenz in Germany.
If Le Pen is going to claim heritage with an early modern Germanic tribe, shouldn't it be the Franks? She might just mean the US and the UK though (which has it's own WASPy problems).

I haven't tracked the use of "Anglo-Saxon" to mean "white," but it's a real problem for racists that "white" is a flexible modern concept with no real grounding in history. They address that problem with their own take on medieval history.

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Update: I'm told that using Anglo-Saxon to refer to UK/US is common in France, as a way to distinguish it culturally. Here, thanks to a friend, is the quote in French:
Avec les succès surprise du Brexit et de Donald Trump aux Etats-Unis, "2016 a été l’année où le monde anglo-saxon s’est réveillé. 2017 sera, j’en suis sûre, l’année du réveil des peuples de l’Europe continentale", a déclaré Marine Le Pen à la tribune.
It's clear here she means US/UK. Note - the US/UK is NOT Anglo-Saxon. And whatever happened to the Norman conquest?

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Will keep an eye on this usage. Matt Gabriele, a medievalist colleague, and  have decided to coin this kind of framing, "nostalgic medievalism." More to come, alas.

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