Professor Roger Griffin

Emeritus Professor in Modern History

School of History, Philosophy and Culture

Roger Griffin

Role

Roger Griffin is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's foremost experts on the socio-historical and ideological dynamics of fascism, as well as the relationship to modernity of violence stemming from various forms of political or religious fanaticism, and in particular contemporary terrorism. In particular, his theory of fascism as a revolutionary form of ultranationalism driven by ‘palingenetic’ myth has had a major impact on comparative fascist studies since the mid-1990s. In May 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leuven in May 2011 in recognition of his services to the comparative study of fascism.

He began teaching at what was then Oxford Polytechnic over forty-five years ago, and has played an active part in its evolution into Oxford Brookes University what is regularly voted the UK's outstanding New University in the country, working alongside one of the more successful teams of historians in England in terms of the quality of its research output 'per head' according to the RAE/REF of 2001, 2008, and 2014. As an extension and application of his academic research into the social dynamics of Nazi fanaticism under the impact of modernity he has made a number of contributions both within and outside academia to a humanistic understanding of terrorist radicalization and the identification of an original strategy to bring about deradicalization. His theory of 'heroic doubling' is now the basis of a major research project based on multi-agency collaboration which aims to provide a scientific aid to understanding and intervening in the process of radicalization leading to terrorism. Meanwhile his theories of fascism and of fascism's relationship to religion, ultranationalism, totalitarianism, aesthetics and modernism continue to be widely used, particularly in Eastern Europe and have attracted interest as far away as South Korea, China and Japan.

Areas of expertise

  • Fascism
  • Modernism
  • Terrorism
  • Transcultural Humanism

Research

At present his principal research interests are:

i) the theory of and comparative study of fascism, its adaptation to unique historical situations; and its evolution as it continues to adapt to transformations in the socio-political structures and various threats to democracy or traditional values in modern society; and its relationship to radical right wing populism and to violence inspired by the struggle to achieve the independence of a national homeland, the realization of a utopia, or religious extremism as obstacles to the emergence of a sustainable, humane, global community.

ii) the origins of terrorism in both concrete socio-political circumstances and (at least in some cases) in the malaise of modernity and the quest for preserving/attaining transcendental meaning and the sacred in a secularizing world.

iii) political (programmatic) modernism in the form of all totalitarian ideologies and its relationship to aesthetic modernism, the dynamics of terrorism, and (transcultural) humanism in the modern age.

iv) transcultural humanism (secular or religious) as a historical and contemporary force, conceived as a 'mirror' of extremism, racism and various forms of social exclusion and the basis for genuine multiculturalism and tolerance (rather than ‘British’ or ‘European’ values)

v) The dynamics of radicalization and the task of deradicalization conceived as a form of reradicalization in the spirit of activist transcultural humanism.

Increasingly Roger Griffin is concerned with the practical application of his insights into the dynamics of fanatical violence in counter-radicalization and counter-terrorist policies. His theory of 'heroic doubling' was cited in the prosecution case against Anders Breivik and has attracted the attention of international counter-terrorist agencies. Another application (the AVATAR project) is under development, namely the creation on the basis of a large selection of profiles actual terrorists understood through the lens of ‘heroic doubling’, of a prognostic database for use by counter-terrorism forces to help identify potential in collaboration with a major UK expert in the use of IT for security purposes

Research group membership

  • network associated with the journal Fascism and its affiliated association COMFAS
  • the terrorism research group International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation based in King's College, London
  • the centre for the study of totalitarianism and extremism based in Olso University

Research grants and awards

  • Awarded Honorary Doctorate by University of Leuven (2011) for sercices to the comparative study of fascism
  • Various grants including British Academy and ESRC grants to write Modernism and Fascism (2008)

Research projects

Three major projects at present (Oct 2017):

1.  Research programme to provide basis for a major mobograph on the historical impact of different concepts and realituies of the self in modern western history (Double trouble: How Alter Egos Alter History (and Can Save Humanity)

2.  Ongoing work on AVATAR project to create (through collboration with expert in cybersecurity and IT, as well as Kafka) a prognostic database incorporating insights drawn from my work on heroic doubling.

3. Contribution to the founding and rnning of COMFAS, association for the comparative study of fascism

Research impact

Further research dissemination

In the last 30 years, Roger Griffin has given numerous talks at History Association evenings, staff seminars, and sixth-form conferences in Britain. For example, he was interviewed about fascism on Hamburg local radio (Freies Sender Kombinat) and about Bush's use of the term Islamo-Fascism by The New York Times, as well as being consulted about aspects of fascism (e.g. Joerg Haider's death and the rise of the radical right in Austria, the 'new' BNP under Nick Griffin) and populism (e.g. by the Canadian radio station CBC, and by the Pan European Forum organized by Cheuvreux). In the wake of the Anders Breivik attack in Norway he gave various interviews to the media on terrorism, including a talk on the psychological dynamics of Breivik at a public discussion of terrorism held in Oslo in February 2012. In the last 25 years Roger Griffin has given numerous talks at History Association evenings, staff seminars, and sixth-form conferences in Britain. He was interviewed about fascism on Hamburg local radio (Freies Sender Kombinat) and about Bush's use of the term Islamo-Fascism by The New York Times, as well as being consulted about aspects of fascism (e.g. Joerg Haider's death and the rise of the radical right in Austria, the 'new' BNP under Nick Griffin) and populism (e.g. by the Canadian radio station CBC, and by the Pan European Forum organized by Cheuvreux). He is regularly interviewed by the London radio station LBC in connection with terrorist attacks or threats, and in the wake of the Anders Breivik attack in Norway he gave various interviews to the media on terrorism, including a talk on the psychological dynamics of Breivik at a public discussion of terrorism held in Oslo in February 2012.

His major forum for dissemination of his theories since 1989 is a long series of over 90 national and international talks, workshops and conference papers/keynotes, which have taken him to over 30 different countries world-wide, and particularly to Romania, Hungary, Norway, Spain and Holland, but also the US (Wisconsin, Albuquerque, Baltimore, Minneapolis), Argentina, Seoul, Croatia, Slovakia, and Sweden. He provided the keynote on the need for a new, non-Eurocentric Enlightenment to an international Liberal Arts conference held in Qatar by the University Texas (2017), and has given interviews to the press agencies and magazines based in the US, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and South Korea.

He has also given over 60 talks to school history societies or sixth form/A-level students studying politics or history relating to extremism.

The text book Fascism: An Introduction to Comparative Fascist studies for Polity's Key concepts in Political thought to be published in 2018, and his work for the journal ifascism iand for the new association COMFAS are conceived to act as a major vehicles for the continuing dissemination of the working definition of fascism provided in The Nature of Fascism (1991) which has now achieved a global presence if not hegemony within fascist studies.

Publications

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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Roger has been a member of the editorial board of Patterns of Prejudice since 1990, and for 4 years was co-editor of the journal Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions (2005-2008). After leaving the journal he helped create a new Political Religion section of the Blackwell-Wiley on-line journal Religion Compass which he co-edited for three years. He is also consultant editor of the new e-journal  (2011) Fascism: Journal for Comparative Fascist Studies edited by Madelon de Keizer in Amsterdam (Brill). His main editorial work till recently was on the 15 volumes of the series he founded, 'Modernism and' (Palgrave), and he continues to play an active role as founding editor of the journal Fascism, and in the creation of its affiliated association COMFAS (Association for the Comparative Study of Fascism which is to be based in the Central European University (Budapest).
  • Thanks to funding from the Berendel Foundation for 2011-12, Roger Griffin was able to explore the feasibility of setting up an internet resource for the advancement of transcultural humanism, a project (PATH) that builds on his keynote for a conference held by the Berendel Foundation on this topic in Oxford in September 2010. With appropriate funding the outcome of this project would be  the establishment of an electronic journal (Studies in Transcultural Humanism) that would focus on the history of transcultural humanism, both in theory and practice, in the world's religious and secular cultures. This would involve a variety of traditions of tolerance and fruitful coexistence with 'the Other' that exist in human history and could hopefully be reactivated to help address the many dilemmas that humanity now faces on a global and planetary level.
  • Since September 2015 Roger Griffin has found a highly practical and topical application of his work on terrorism and transculatural humanism in the AVATAR (Analysis of Virtual Alter-egos in Terrorst Activism and Radicalization) project with an expert in the IT aspect of counterradicalization and a police force actively engaged in counter-radicalization and CT work.
  • Roger has been Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 2003.
  • He has been on the AHRC panel of peer reviewers since 2008.
  • He has been the external examiner or external consultant on several for MPhil, PhD, and Habilitation theses in the UK, Central European University, France, and Australia.
  • He was the main author of the project description for a bid to the EU for funding for a 4 year international project on 'Shadows Over Democracy' in Europe in Dec-Jan 2009-2010 (the bid went through to the final round but was unsuccessful).
  • He gives frequent talks to school sixth-forms on subjects relating to fascism and extremism.
  • He has given lectures to executives on the need for a new type of leadership in the context of the need for a 'paradigm shift' that will assure sustainability in the future.
  • He has taken part in a round-table discussion on right-wing populism held at the Pan-European Forum organized by Cheuvreux (May 2012)
  • He has participated in numerous radio discussions of issues related to his research, and appeared on a Romanian history programme to discuss his work in 2011.
  • Since 2012 he has given radio interviews for Radio 5 Live, Radio Scotland, Oxford Radio, LBC, Talk Russia, Russia Today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been cited in numerous newspaper articles on stories relating to extremist violence.
  • In May 2015 he was interviewed in a Prague studio by the public on fascism on an hour-long popular TV programme investigating cultural and popular issues.
  • He is well-established as an expert on terrorism in Norway, where his theories were used in th Breivik trial.
  • He has given over 40 interviews on aspects of his specialisms to press, TV and radio in more than6 countries in the last 10 years.

Conferences

Keynote Addresses and Conference Papers since 2004

  • December 2004 paper on political religion at Bern University
  • June 2004 paper on neo-populisnm in Britain at symposium held at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva
  • November 2005 Keynote speaker on the links between fascism and the German at a symposium on the European New Right (Neue Rechte) held in Wuerzburg, Germany
  • April 2006 Keynote speaker for the conference 'Clerical fascism in Inter-war Europe' held at Oxford Brookes University
  • 2006 Keynote address for the conference 'Fascism, Modernism and Postmodernism' held at the University of New Mexico in September
  • June 2007 Keynote address at the conference on 'Modernity and Mass Dictatorship' to held at Hanyang University, South Korea
  • May 2008 Talk on anti-Semitism at Leo Baeck Institute, London
  • May 2008 Talk at symposium on Nazism and fascism at German Historical Institute in London
  • June 2008 Talk on fascism and modernism at Institute for Documentation of Second World War (Amsterdam)
  • July 2008 Two talks given at workshops at ISSEI held in Helsinki
  • September 2008) Keynote at international symposium on Modernism and antimodernism in Bucharest
  • June 2008 Keynote on fascism and Dutch modernity for the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam
  • June 2008 Keynote on research in the Humanities and the Use of the Web at day conference The Virtual Scholar in London
  • July 2008 Gave papers at two workshops at ISSEI conference in Helsinki
  • Sep 2008 Keynote at conference on Modernity and Antimodernity in Bucharest
  • Nov 2008 Keynote on rise of totalitarianism for Symposium held in Vienna to launch book commemorate 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic
  • Dec 2008 Guest lecture at Groningen University (Holland) on Dictatorship
  • March 2009 Guest lecture at postgraduate seminar on modernism held by Ron Bush (Oxford University)
  • March 2009 Guest lecture in Landsberg (Bavaria) on Hitler and Modernity in a series of public talks on Nazism
  • April 2009 Keynote at Paris conference (Paris 3) on New Consensus in fascism
  • April 2009 Keynote at symposium for Olso on Totalitarianism and Terrorism
  • April 2009 Guest lecture on genocide at Oslo University
  • May 2009 Guest lecture in Hamburg at Aexl Schildt Institute in series on Third Reich
  • July 2009 Keynote at international symposium on language of extreme right at Alfried Krupp Wiisenschaftskolleg in Greifswald
  • August 2009 Two workshops on fascism in Europe for Sorbonne Summer School held in Pecs (Hungary)
  • Sep 2009 Key note at Oxford Brookes international conference on 'Sacred Modernities'
  • Sep 2009 Lecture at Oxford University day-school on Futurism
  • Octopber 2009 Podcast keynote for virtual conference 'Breaking Barriers' (organized by Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Nov 2009 Talk at symposium on fascism and modernism at University of Konstanz
  • Nov 2009 Talk at symposium on parafascism at Lisbon University
  • Dec 2009 Talk on Leadership to Executives on Said Training Course
  • Jan 2010 Guest lecture for the seminar on comparative and transfer history held by Arnd Baueraemper at the Free University (Berlin, Jan 2010)
  • Jan 2010 Festschriftsvortrag for Wolfgang Wippermann
  • June 2010 Keynote at symposium at Manchester University on Fascism and Culture 
  • Sep 2010 Keynote for conference on transcultural humanism held by Berendel Foundation (Brookes)
  • Sep 2010 Keynote at conference on Fascism and Catholicism (Rome)
  • Oct 2010 Kenote for conference on 'spaces of extreme violence' Vienna
  • Oct 2010 Keynote at conference on 'numerus clausus' held by Holocaust Museum, Budapest
  • Nov 2011 Talk for CEU on terrorism (Budapest)
  • May 2011 Talk on occasion of award of Honorary Doctorate by Leuwen University
  • Sept 2011 Talk on New Man for Berendel Conference (Oxford)
  • Sept 2011 Talk on Ideocracy at Hannah Arendt Centre (Dresden)
  • Oct 2011 Talk on Modernism and Terrorism in National Library of Romania
  • Oct 2011 Short course on Modernism and politics at Bucharest University
  • Nov 2011 Talk on peripheral fascisms for conference (Uppsala)
  • Feb 2012  Keynote on terrorism (Oslo)
  • June 2012 Keynote on fascism (Munich)
  • October 2012 Lectures on fascism and modernity (Barcelona)
  • February 2013 Talk on the attractiveness of Nazism (Munich)
  • March Paper delivered at conference on fascist temporality (Italy) 
  • May 2013 2 Talks on totalitarianism/terrorism to Oslo University, MA masterclass, radio interview
  • June 2013 Amsterdam Talk at conference on deradicalization held by TerRA
  • April 2014 Budapest (Holocaust Memorial Day presentation, presentation on dynamics of terrorism at CEU)
  • April 2014 Vienna (ESSH Cworkshop on social basis of fascism)
  • May 2014 Talks on terrorism and genocide for Oslo University
  • July 2014 Paper on the aesthetics of fascism and parafascism for a workshop in Lisbon held by the Faculty of Social Sciences
  • July Berlin (Free University conference on fascism: presentation cancelled because of family illness)
  • Sept Moscow (keynote for international conference on impact of 1WW on Russian culture: cancelled because of family illness)
  • Sept 2014 (paper for workshop on the sacred in the modern age held at CRASSH in Cambridge)
  • Sept 2014 Athens (presentation for ESRC workshp on dynamics of extreme right)
  • March Paper at conference on European extreme right(Dubrovnik)
  • April Keynote given at Modernism and Fascism conference (Granada)
  • May Talk at Genoa University on Fascism
  • Keynote at conference on Golden Dawn (Athens)
  • May 2015 keynote at conference on Nazi social policies in occupied Europe held by Jan Amos Comenius University
  • May keynote at Warwick on volence
  • June talk at Exeter on radicalization
  • September talks on fascism and terrorism at Bodo University (Norway)
  • October Talk at Reading University
  • 2016
  • September Talk in Santiago de Compostela
  • Talk in Granada
  • Talk for Strategic arm of Airforce
  • Talk at Brighton
  • 2017
  • Talk in Qatar on the need for a renewal of Humanism
  • Talk for Europol

Consultancy

  • Roger Griffin has carried out an ideological profile of a suspected extreme right-wing ideologue in connection with legal proceedings and delivered lectures on the socio-ideological dynamics of terrorism and fascism to the security forces.
  • He invites requests for consultation work of this nature and in areas relating to the design and delivery of courses on topics relating to fascism, terrorism, and modernism at postgraduate, undergraduate and sixth-form/high school level.
  • He has acted as a consultant to the Home Office on terrorist radicalization
  • He is also available for talks on the psychological dynamics and security implications of modernity, terrorism, and radicalization

Further details

Having obtained a First in French and German literature from Oxford University, he then began teaching in the History of Ideas at Oxford Polytechnic as a member of what was at the time a small, and in the national history context, invisible History department. This change of discipline enabled him to draw on his intensive training in the critical appreciation of how different artists have seen the world over time to achieve an empathetic understanding of the ideas and world-views of the key extremist right-wing movements and regimes which have shaped modern history. Applying this approach to the redefinition of fascism in terms of its ideology led to a DPhil from Oxford University (1990). In it he first expounded the theory of fascism which has made him internationally famous through a steady stream of publications starting with The Nature of Fascism (1991). These have become the cornerstone of the 'New Consensus' definition of fascism widely operated (consciously or not and with some notable exceptions) all over the world by the majority of academics concerned with comparative fascist studies. The twenty three years which have elapsed since have seen over 120 publications on such topics as fascism, racism, modernity, and totalitarianism, and he has given over forty five keynote lectures on these and related topics in universities on three continents. His key works in the last five years are Modernism and Fascism. The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler (2007), A Fascist Century. Essays by Roger Griffin (2008), and Terrorist's Creed. Fanatical Violence and the Human Need for Meaning (August 2012) (which has appeared in Spanish in 2011 and will appear in a Czech edition in 2014). His next main project is a to write a monograph (Blood Ties) on the way scientized and rationalized variants of the myth of blood have helped shape some of the more catastrophic events of modern history.

Other experience

Editorships and networks

  • Founding editor of the book series Modernism and Consultant editor of the open-access journal Fascism
  • On editorial board of Patterns of Prejudice
  • Guest Fellow of the Integrated Research in Conflict and Security unit at King’s College
  • On committee of the EU-funded TERRA initiative which is exploring best practice in counter- and de-radicalization strategies
  • Academic lead in a project to create an International MA on Terrorism and Counter-terrorism taught by a consortium of European Universities (possibly Brookes, LUISS, Rome, and Barcelona).
  • Founding member of the Research Network on Radicalism and Violence whose formation has  been approved by the Council for European Studies.