Conspiratorial medievalism: History and hyperagency in the far-right Knights Templar security imaginary

Katharine Millar, Julia Costa López*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
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    Imagery associated with the Knights Templar appears in the public discourse and symbolism of many white supremacist and white nationalist groups. The 2011 Norwegian mass murderer cited the Templars in his manifesto, as did the 2019 New Zealand shooter. Templar crosses were on display at the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina. To understand the security imaginary behind these racialised medievalisms and their contemporary animation within right-wing extremism, this article develops the concept of “conspiratorial medievalism”. The Knights Templar imaginary blends a specific, racialised and romanticised vision of history with the grammar of conspiracy theory. This is characterised by a) a belief in the racialised decline and victimisation of a “righteous” White Christendom; b) a sense of threat posed by racialised Others and betrayal by insiders; and c) an anachronistic view of near-omnipotent individual agency. Significantly, conspiratorial medievalism demonstrates an aspiration to not merely combat ‘undue’ agency of racialised Others, but to reclaim and perform extreme agency themselves. Agency is cast in the idiom of medieval chivalry, and framed as the moral obligation of righteous White men. Though Knights Templar imagery may appear superficial, this article finds it is an important justificatory and enabling discourse for racist violence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Early online date10-Jul-2021
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10-Jul-2021

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