Call for papers for the Special Issue of Partecipazione e Conflitto on:

‘Antifa From Below’.

Guest editors:

Dr Ali Jones (Center for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry)

Dr Nils Schumacher (Universität Hamburg)

Dr Grzegorz Piotrowski (University of Gdańsk)


Today the terms antifascism and Antifa are often conflated to evoke a wide, often poorly articulated set of mishmashed concepts ranging from mid-20th century resistance against “real existing Fascism” to clashes against white supremacists, ultra nationalists or neo-nazis. What tends to be poorly understood is that antifascism actually historically originates in early twentieth century Europe, reached its pinnacle in WWII and war resistance to Nazism and “real existing Fascism” and was followed by prosecution of Nazis in the post-war era. This antifascism can be distinguished from the term Antifa, which is a set of concepts, styles, and representations that emerged in the 1980s amidst the background of New Social Movements and alternative youth cultures. It was further refined after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the marginalization of radical Left-wing thoughts and ideas, and eventually the reorientation of the New Left away from Communism and towards the anti-globalization movement. The distinction between Antifa and antifascism became particularly pertinent in regards to the pressing question of whether there was a need for a “new antifascism” following new manifestations of right-wing anti-migrant violence in the early 1990s (Haug & Haug 1993), or whether the term itself was no longer relevant in a post-Cold War globalised world.

As a post-cold war movement, Antifa developed in resistance to neo-nazism: understood not as organised Fascist political parties or a government structure, but rather as the grassroots “tyranny of the everyday” (Schuhmacher 2014). This encompassed the everyday street politics of hateful violence against minorities, nationalist white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, anti-migration etc., on the one hand, and, on the other, debates around these violent outbursts in the political mainstream. Antifa is understood here as the morally motivated reaction to this situation. It is a cultural form of “politics of the self” (Jones 2018), with a focus on youth subculture and radical subjectivities, combined with advocacy and solidarity for third parties (for example refugees, migrants, or people of the global majority), and other concepts gleaned from repertoires of social movements (Schuhmacher 2017). This implies that Antifa goes far beyond the definition of a “single issue” or “counter movement” (Piotrowski 2021). Indeed, in this post-1989 manifestation, Antifa encompasses a complex set of societal debates, contexts, cultures and contestations. These include a range of theoretical understandings as well as different national traditions and historical political positions within, and conceptions of, the (radical) left. This range remains broad for several reasons and we encourage prospective authors for this special issue to untangle this concept by understanding and operationalising antifascism in its various geographical manifestations as:

- an orientation, including a set of moral values, ethical judgments and political opinions. At its core is the deep rejection of fascism and related ideologies, justified not least by the historical experience of real political violence.

- a practice. the term antifascism refers to a field of political conflict and “contentious politics” (Tarrow/Tilly 2015), using methods of physical or symbolic contestation, up to and including militanz (Jones 2018).

- a “cultural technique” (Keller 1996) referring to a tradition of building specific “functions”. In this sense, it is associated with both self-empowerment and cycles of stigmatization and self-stigmatization (Manrique 1992).

- a social movement, or a structure of groups, networks and people within a cultural environment, which are politically and socially interconnected, including strongly institutionalized non-militant formal associations (e.g. journals and newspapers, information centres, educational institutions, trade unions, and even organized football supporters).

This special issue seeks to bring together interdisciplinary contributions working with diverse methodologies, to discuss the phenomenon of antifa and its aforementioned manifestations. We are particularly interested in papers adopting a social movements or contentions politics approach “from below” (Tilly & Tarrow 2015) but are open to other approaches within the social sciences. Proposed articles should go beyond the simplistic media and political portrayal of Antifa as violent hooligans. Nigel Copsey (2018) has specifically addressed the inadequacies of this widespread reductivist categorization and portrayal of Antifa, which indicates both the state of the problem as well as the importance of addressing it. We are particularly interested in articles that seek to understand Antifa in a nuanced manner, while applying scholarly criticism and analysis. For example, the latter might situate Antifa as emerging from a long tradition of contesting neo-Nazism and political violence against vulnerable populations, as well as the state and societal failure to address these phenomena.

Geographically, Antifa as understood in this way tends to emerge in locations previously affected by the “real existing Fascism” of the 20th century and the Second World War.  However, the guest editors remain open to papers exploring other regions within this same time period beginning in the mid-1980s, and addressing (but not limited to) the following potential topics:

  1. Interactions with societal stakeholders and constituents, (for example in terms of the radical flank effect)
  2. Antifa responses to topics surrounding migration, refugees, colonialism, and racism
  3. Interaction with the state and other groups or movements
  4. Self-representation of Antifa groups
  5. Discourses and discursive action within Antifa, as broadly understood
  6. Changing narratives inside Antifa movements, as well as dissemination of approaches, themes, and topics within the movement

Submission procedure:

Articles, written in English, should be submitted to the guest editors according to the following schedule:

- Submission of long abstracts (about 800 words): 30 September 2022

- Selection of long abstracts: 15th of October 2022

- Submission of articles: 1st of March 2023

- Provision of peer review feedback: 15th of May 2023

- Submission of revised drafts: 1st of September 2023

- Publication of the issue: 15th of November 2023

Long abstracts should include the following information:

(1) A description of the topic and research question

(2) The theoretical framework,

(3) Empirical data, time frame and research methods,

(4) Findings


These abstracts must be sufficiently detailed to allow the guest editors and the PACO editorial board to judge the merits of the paper. Additionally, we would encourage the contributors to elaborate on the justification of the selected case/s and provide details about the forms and degree of involvement (if any) of activists in the research process. The deadline for abstracts is 30th September 2022.



For those abstracts that are selected, final articles should be no longer than 10,000 words, including notes and references.


Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at:

Long abstracts (and any other queries) should be sent directly to the guest editors:


Dr Ali Jones

Dr Nils Schumacher

Dr Grzegorz Piotrowski

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