How to Fight 8chan Medievalism-and Why We Must - 2019-06-27
Consumers of medievalism in movies and games don't have quite the same responsibility as scholars, but they're much more numerous and often equally resistant to recognizing white supremacy in their communities. Many such fans, especially in the white male demographic, seem to believe they can "keep politics out" of medieval-themed video and role-playing games and fantasy books. Both groups just don't want to complicate their engagement with (and enjoyment of) the medieval past by worrying about white supremacy.
Since the murder of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of 2017, I've been regularly watching discussion boards on 8chan and the neo-Nazi website Stormfront to better understand what I call "8chan Medievalism." I wanted to examine how the worst people in the world talk about the Middle Ages within their own Internet safe spaces. What I've found is that the problem has gotten worse online, even as 8chan medievalism has shown up in the writings of mass-murdering terrorists and would-be terrorists.
At least in some circles, scholars of the Middle Ages are increasingly organized in their responses to white supremacy. Foremost among these circles is a collective called Medievalists of Color; the group maps the many ways that scholars have long politicized the study of the Middle Ages around notions of race and whiteness, as centuries of white and usually male historians asserted their own primacy in the formation of the modern world. In doing so, groups like Medievalists of Color push the majority-white field to be more intentional about how we confront racism and other forms of oppression in our teaching and writing.