The doctrine of survivals
Far right commentators celebrate the power of ‘something dark and terrible in the original folk culture’ (Hännikäinen, 2018, np) whilst the British National Party evoke ancient Britons and indigeneity as part of the cultic milieu that informs their white-supremacist ideology (Fortier, 2012). This paper suggests that E.B. Tylor’s ‘doctrine of survivals’ has both influenced the English fascist imaginary, and presents a problem for contemporary folk horror through its positioning of indigeneity. Tylor’s idea is that vestiges of the deep past can be found buried in the habits, customs and legends of the present. It is often used to explain our culture and environment in terms of so-called ‘pagan survival’ (despite the lack of any archaeological or historical evidence). This paper argues that pagan survival mobilises imperialist and exoticist discourses and provokes ethical questions in relation to the indigenous, who are summoned, colonised and maligned, even when (as in the case of England) they are not actually present. Tylor’s doctrine is therefore key to understanding both the long history and present moment of folk horror and its relationship to the fascist imaginary.
Fortier, Anne-Marie. 2012. ‘Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”’. In Science as Culture 21:2. 153–175. DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2011.586418.
|Keywords||EDI; folklore; folk horror; folkloristics; anthropology|
|Conference||Symposium: Relational Imaginaries of Antifascism and the Far-right|
|Web address (URL)||https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/research/explore/research-units/cardiff-interdisciplinary-research-on-antifascism-and-the-far-right-ciraf|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||22 Jun 2023|
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