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The search for authenticity: An exploration of an online skinhead newsgroup


Alex Campbell New Media Society 2006 8: 269 DOI: 10.1177/1461444806059875 The online version of this article can be found at: http://nms.sagepub.com/content/8/2/269

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Copyright 2006 SAGE Publications London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi Vol8(2):269294 [DOI: 10.1177/1461444806059875]

ARTICLE

The search for authenticity:


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An exploration of an online skinhead newsgroup


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ALEX CAMPBELL The University of New England, USA


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Abstract
In the popular imagination skinhead identity has come to be inextricably connected to a white-racist identity. This article explores this tenet through an ethnographic exploration of an online skinhead newsgroup, a milieu where racial markings are seemingly absent. The empirical ndings expose that racism is read ambivalently by the newsgroups skinheads. Racism is not viewed as a constituting component of skinhead identity; however, there is widespread commitment to a white identity. This article concentrates on the processes which give rise to a digitalized (white) skinhead identity, (re)established online in and through textual performances. Narratives of whiteness articulated through the node of skinness, reveal the salience of racial bodies in the virtual world. However, the imagined relationship between skinheads and racism is not straightforward. The skinheads of this research do not enact an explicit discriminatory racism, but rather they imagine whiteness as a performative condition of skinness, a notion that necessitates a gurative (and literal) aggressive relation to otherness.

Key words
culture ethnography identity online community performativity race and racism skinheads
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RACISM, RACE IDENTITY, AND THE INTERNET Internet technology has tended to encourage populist theorizing, which imbues it with transforming properties; in particular, as creating radically new conditions for community and identity formation. Discussions around the subject of the internet and its intersection with race, racial identity and racism, specically, tend to oscillate between utopian and dystopian visions. Utopian imagery depicts a sublimely postmodern space, where the race marked subject, over-determined in the corporeal world, exceeds the economy of meanings attached to in the physical world (Sterne, 2000), as substance becomes digitalized (Haraway, 1991). The virtual world is imagined as erasing the scene of difference as users appear to transcend race (and gender) marked embodiment, which has formally determined place within hierarchies of social, political, and economic power-relations (Turkle, 1995). In contrast, is a picture of the racial cyber-subject, or white racist warrior, who uses the net to extend a racist message worldwide on an unprecedented scale (Stern, 1999). The internet is viewed as a tool enabling the creation of menacing racist communities, out of which emerge networks of connected, like-minded racists who exploit the nets interactive capabilities to coordinate real-world global activity (Wine, 1999). One version of the white warrior1 depicted in dystopian sketchings2 is the virtual skinhead who uses the internet to connect with other skinheads from around the globe to affect a global skinhead culture. Indeed the skinhead has come to be understood as a distillation of the racist (Nayak, 1999), a cultural identity which is widely perceived, represented as it is through popular texts,3 to be conceptually linked to white-racist violence. Recent news reports, which point to skinhead perpetrated violence against gypsies in the Czech republic, the involvement of German skinheads in violent attacks towards Turks and other foreigners, appear to authorise this link. In Britain, the connection is historically well-established through recourse to the very public association between skinheads and the far-right political party, the National Front (NF), and, more recently, with groups such as Combat 18 and the White Wolves (Lowles and Silver, 1998). Scholarly discourses further cement the skinhead/racist association, including Hamms seminal criminological account American Skinheads (1993), and Moores Skinheads Shaved for Battle (1993), among others. Websites clearly exist which involve self-identied racist skinheads,4 and on the surface they appear to conrm both the skinhead/racism association, and the thesis that the internet is (simply) a conduit for the linking of likeminded racists. The existence of websites, chat rooms, and newsgroups dedicated to skinheads, white supremacy in general, as well as others related to nationality, region, culture and more, indicate that the internet is being used as a means to re-stage racial and ethnic identity and to broadcast racial and exclusionary messages. This is arguably not surprising given that
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the internet is not removed from the rest of the social landscape, but thrives within a set of established power structures. The bodies with which we type do not evaporate, but are carried through, discursively inscribed, as internet users re-establish race (and other forms of) identity online. Race, then, clearly matters in cyberspace. But the alarmist tenor of many dystopian, populist narratives (which warn against the sinister web of hate on the internet, of how it is being utilized as a means to recruit new members, and of how neo-Nazis, in conquering it, teach each other how to make bombs [Stern, 1999]), suggest that the race/internet relationship has a tendency to be conceived in narrow ways. This limited conceptualization, which views the internet as a dangerous recruiting and organizing tool in the hands of the wrong folk, speaks, I think, to the way in which racism is ordinarily abbreviated to refer to overt discrimination (Gilroy, 1992), and a tendency to dene racists as identiable right-wing bigots who hold irrational prejudices (Doane, 1999; Rex, 1970). Contemporary race theorists, however, have long noted the changing character of racism, particularly in the post-Civil Rights era, which, as Bulmer and Solomos (1996) contend, has led to a decline in the acceptability of overt displays of racism and ideologies of (biological) superiority and inferiority. Nonetheless, a classical denition of racism is often the prism through which we see when it comes to analysing racialized discourse. In spite of the fact that, as a concept, it has evolved greatly, as the social, cultural and political environment in which racism occurs changes. Initially coined as a term to describe adherence to ideologies of biological superiority/inferiority, a shift in the meaning of racism sought to include prejudicial attitudes, or discriminatory acts, directed towards members of other racial groups; individual beliefs which did not necessarily have to be connected to an ideology of biological supremacy. This classical denition (Taguieff, 1999), which encompassed individual behaviours and beliefs, made racism an essentially social-psychological phenomenon (Doane, 1996; Rex, 1970), a formulation which supposed that racism was a conscious action if not an actual choice (Gilroy, 1992). Carmichael and Hamiltons (1967) research, which unequivocally linked racism with institutional practices, further extended understandings. Despite these denitional developments, recent race theorists have been critical of classical denitions for both viewing racism monolithically, assuming a colonial, discriminatory model of racism, and, furthermore, for presupposing that racism follows from (naturally) established racial subjects (see Ferber, 1998; Gilroy, 1992; Mac an Ghaill, 1999). Theorizations, more germane to the times, have grappled to capture the nuances of attitudes and behaviours in a society where overt and blatant racist displays are generally considered socially unacceptable. Noting, for example, that declining references to biological race have been replaced with race as culture, as
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race is identied with subcultures, nation, region, language groups, religion, group habits, mores or customs, a dominant style of behaviour, dress, cuisine, music, and so forth (Goldberg, 1999). A race-as-culture is no more less imagined in essentialist terms: that is, as a unique (always recoverable) entity which should be preserved intact, and a reality which cannot be signicantly modied by any method of cultural provenance (Bauman, 1995: 188). Taguieff (1999) describes the discursive shift of racial discourse effectively by highlighting the discriminatory character of more familiar forms of racism, which preoccupies itself with maintaining dominance in a racial hierarchy, in contrast to less obvious differentialist racism, which concerns itself with keeping (imagined) identity unique and pure. Taguieff notes that the id ee xe of differentialist racism is the loss of what is characteristic, the erasement of the groups identity (1999: 210). The shift from hierarchy to difference engenders concerns which revolve around incommunicability, incommensurability, and incomparability (1999: 210). Away, then, from a preoccupation with the annihilation of the Other, in its place the anxiety of Self-preservation; more precisely, the preservation of (racial) identity. This discursive shift is evident through analyses of both mainstream racial discourse as well as rhetoric authored by movements historically associated with extreme racism. The British National Party, for example, a political organization connected to overt racism and racist violence, have followed the differentialist trend, no longer overtly concerning itself with the explicit subordination of the other, but instead concentrating on the preservation of a unique cultural identity. Tara McPhersons (2000) research on neoconfederates in cyberspace, similarly demonstrates this shift, as she highlights how confederate authors skilfully appropriate the language of the civil rights movement to focus on the preservation of a regional identity, itself understood in ethnically (white) absolute terms. Indeed, race need not necessarily be overtly alluded to; instead, race is made lucid through references to region, nation, culture, heritage, style, and more, which stand in as more palatable synonyms (see Gilroy, 1992). The increased focus on the preservation of self has also meant that representations of the Other are less visible. This is not to suggest, however, that the Other is absent, as Terry and Urla (1995) suggest, the shadow of the Other is always there, the spectre of otherness, or the constitutive outside, as Hall (1980) puts it, provides the implicit dening contours which are demanded to give the besieged identity meaning. For identity to seem unique it must be considered to possess distinct properties, but such properties only become distinguishing when they are contrasted with another identity (if only through inference) that is made to stand as a (negative) opposite. At a time, then, when racism is intent on differentiating as opposed to inferiorizing, there is a need to focus on racial discourse which symbolically
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and insidiously inscribes and maintains racial identities; in other words, to concentrate on processes of racialization (Ferber, 1998; Goldberg, 1992). Arguing that race scholars have for too long neglected this area, Ferber concentrates her own inquiry on the racialization of whiteness, that is, on the social construction of whiteness, which she maintains is central to the contemporary white supremacist movement (1998: 48), and, I would add, to the hegemonic racial project more widely, for as (white) identity denes itself in opposition to (racial, ethnic) others, racism modes which keep the Other as different and separate becomes the maintenance of (white) identity. Regrettably, differentialist logic has been for the most part normalized, and even underwrites many anti-racist multicultural initiatives, which unwittingly repeats a separatist racial structure (Gilroy, 1992; McPherson, 2000). This also means that such racialized discourse is perceived widely as unproblematic, and older conceptions of what racism entails endure. When one hears of racism on the internet or more specically for the purposes of this article, skinheads on the internet it should perhaps be expected that the internet is reduced to a tool, while racist discourse is limited to explicit epithets and instructions. McPhersons work on neo-confederate websites has made clear, however, the efcacy of drawing on conceptual tools attuned to the consequences of racial discourse which appears, on the surface, not to be racist at all. McPherson, among others, have thus underscored the need to examine both the form and the consequences of discourse which is made to carve out (unique) identity. Critically, while classical analyses of race and racism have largely assumed race identity as a natural fact from which racist acts ow, race is far from a given (Goldberg, 1999). Racial categories are socially created, constructed through the representation of difference (Bulmer and Solomos, 1999: 14), in and through the inscription of symbolic boundaries. Whether those inscriptions concern themselves with the demonization of the Other (making the Self positive by implicit contrast), or they focus on the promotion of the unique self (making the Other negative by implicit contrast), and whether they intentionally aim to exclude or do not: the end is much the same, the replay, as McPherson puts it, of a logic of separatism (2000: 127). Speech acts do not have to be supplemented with the marks of hate or extremism, neither does the speech have to refer to a hateful or harmful act it seeks to pregure for it to have a set of exclusionary effects. The socially constructed character of race should not lead one to underestimate the devastating effects of a racial logic which differentiates and separates, for it has intensely material (economic, social, political, exclusionary, violent, and more) consequences (Guillaumin, 1995). Racial categorizations are neither objective nor banal designations, spontaneously occurring, but emerge through power enmeshed racialized discourse, which
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constructs and sustains a logic of incommensurability. Articulated in and through everyday speech acts and representations (often innocuously), race talk constitutes racial subjects who are constructed as possessing immutable characteristics, which marks them as different, in short, incompatible with racial others. Naming and declaring something in the name of whiteness or blackness (implicitly through nodes of regionality, nation, etc.) constructs, reproduces and concretizes the idea of whiteness and blackness, it invites subjects through processes of interpellation to see themselves in relation to these ideas, establishing and sustaining differences between Self and Other as subjects reproduce and appear to substantiate identity norms through everyday interactions, and an absolutist logic which results in exclusion and separatism. It is not always easy to read the racialization of whiteness, circulating as it does ghostly and virtually unseen (Dyer, 1997). However, whiteness is always there, and is always present in processes of racial representation. Representations are never merely just representations; identities are constituted within not outside representation, they are produced precisely in specic historical and institutional sites within specic discursive formations and practices by specic enunciative strategies (Hall, 1996: 4). Rather than accept dystopian accounts of race and the internet when thinking about skinheads in cyberspace, this inquiry, following the work of Ferber, McPherson, and others, seeks to make processes of racialization the focal point of exploration. The aim is to produce an analysis which does not conne itself to overt racialized discourse, but to encompass more seemingly innocuous texts, which might at rst appear to be indifferent to questions of race; further, to underscore the signicance of discourse in the negotiation and production of a particular (white) skinhead identity. The internet is not simply apparatus utilized to extend pre-existing (skinhead) identities. While we do not come to cyberspace as nothings who construct self-fashioned, post-modern identities, neither do we come to the net as fully constituted beings, stable loci from which acts follow. Judith Butlers theory of identity performativity (1990) posits that routine actions and gestures, which appear as expressions of identity, are in actuality constitutive of the idea of identity. In other words, the idea of the essential and stable (racial, skinhead, etc.) self is performatively constituted by the very expressions that are said to be its results (Butler, 1990: 25). The idea of the already-established (white) skinhead, who uses the computer to disseminate information, overlooks that the (white) skinhead only becomes so through the sedimentation of the words they write and send. The internet is not, then, simply a tool, but might be better understood as an electronic geography (Poster, 1997: 216), a space which overlaps with other territories (online and ofine spaces), which allows for the (re)constitution of identity (racial or otherwise). In these terms, the internet is a space where skinhead identity is (re)produced and not simply extended. The internet not only enables the
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dissemination of data, but it is also a space which allows for dialogue and interaction. And in an era of increased dependence on media interconnectivity, dialogical spaces, such as newsgroups, are one site among many in everyday life (Denzin, 1999: 271), a place where identity is negotiated and (re)produced. As such, newsgroups present an opportunity to explore skinhead identity its meanings and the negotiation of those meanings. Given the increasingly insidious character of racism in wider society, where a post-nazi state and civil rights era have effectively discouraged explicit avowals of racism, this research examines the processes, forms, and functions of race and racism in relation to skinhead identity through an ethnographic inquiry of a skinhead internet newsgroup; a subculture commonly associated through popular and academic5 discourse with white identity, racism and explicit racist practice. This focus of investigation raises numerous questions, including, but not limited to: Is skinhead identity a (sub)cultural identity which effectively operates as a node for whiteness? How is whiteness used to dene skinhead identity, and how, in turn, does this help to substantiate the idea of whiteness? In what ways is race and racism understood, accepted, negotiated, and/or refused? What social rituals give rise since identity is produced and maintained in and through performative gestures to skinhead identication? How do the political, historical, and material conditions interplay with processes of (race) identication and modes of racism? SKINHEAD CULTURE: HISTORY AND HYBRIDITY Before exploring these questions in relation to this specic group, however, it would be useful to provide some historical and contemporary context to the skinhead movement. For as I discuss below, skinhead identity historically is a heterogeneous identity vis-a-vis race identity and racism, and while popular cultural texts construct a fairly monolithic picture of the skinhead as synonymous with whiteness and racism it is in fact a far more fragmented and ambiguous identity. Skinheads rst became visible in England towards the mid to late-sixties, and emerged from a declining economy, which was signicantly effecting the white, working class (Chambers, 1986; Hebdige, 1979). An off-shoot of another youth subculture, the hard mods, skinheads attempted to break away from the style conscious consumerism of the general mod movement, as they constructed a tougher image to counter, among other things, the dandy image of the soft mods and the rise of the more feminine hippies (Forman, 1992: 4). Skinhead style vis-a-vis hippie style, which was signied stylistically by long hair, was epitomized by a now trademark razor-cut hairstyle. The skinhead look was made all the more distinctive through the
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uniform wearing of Fred Perry shirts, braces, short-legged jeans and Doctor Marten brand work boots (1992: 4). Skinhead culture, emerging from a multi-cultural Britain, was inuenced signicantly by West Indian rude boy cultures, in particular, Forman (1992) notes, by Jamaican styles of music, such as reggae and ska. Indeed, (white) skinheads could often be found frequenting Jamaican dancehalls. The inextricable ties between skinhead culture and Jamaican inuences extended beyond aesthetic choice in music and clothing, however; moreover, rstwave skinheads identied socially with black, West Indian, who like themselves, they reasoned, were the trash of modern society, conned to manual labour positions and uctuating between shit work and the dole (Forman, 1992: 4). This cultural fusion, inextricable from the development of skin culture, is made all the more striking by Hebdiges (1979) social history of skinhead culture, in which he notes the presence of black skinheads as well as all-black skinhead gangs during this time period. In the early 1970s, skinheads began to wane; but in 1978, arising from the explosion of punk rock into mainstream culture, there was something of a revival. While punk rock had become popular on college campuses, which were viewed as the domain of the middle classes, an off-shoot street punk, labelled Oi, emerged. Oi music was regarded as punk for the working class, and this, along with ska, were the main musical choices for the second wave of skins. Emerging from the Oi genre were bands such as Skrewdriver, an explicitly racist band with a large neo-nazi following. Skrewdrivers fan base increasingly comprised of skinheads who were quickly becoming associated with right-wing political parties, in particular the National Front (Lowles and Silver, 1998). While much Oi music was not racist, and even at times anti-fascist, it gained a reputation for its racism. While skinheads were increasingly becoming associated with racism and nationalism the second wave of skin culture also bought about the Two Tone movement, skinheads who adopted the original style of the early skinheads and listened primarily to ska. The Two Tone agship actively opposed the National Front, and these skinheads associated themselves with as many anti-racist events and groups as they could, playing large outdoor free concerts in direct opposition to the National Front. Anti-racist skinheads were also emerging in the USA, in the form of RASH (Red and Anarchist SkinHeads) and SHARP (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice), the latter group an anti-racist organization founded in 1987, in New York, whose primary purpose was to recover the true history of skinhead culture, which they claimed had been hijacked by racists (Skully Records, n.d.). This brief historical overview, which points both to anti-racist activity and the presence of non-white skinheads and inuences on skinhead culture, undermines the cogency of monolithic, populist accounts of skinhead culture which consign it as already-racist. In fact, the cultural
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fusions, hybridity, and appropriations of skinhead culture historically have given rise to a contemporary heterogeneity. For instance, while skinhead identity is viewed as primarily a hyper-masculine, heterosexual identity, with links to excessive alcohol drinking, football, aggression, and more, there is a lively culture of gay skinheads particularly in Europe (see Healy, 1996), and there are an increasing number of straight-edge skins who eschew tobacco, alcohol and drug use. In respect to racist politics, skinheads can broadly (but imperfectly) be said to identify with one of three (usually self-identied) groups: explicitly racist (white pride), explicitly anti-racist (sometimes linked to organizations such as SHARP), and non-racist (or Trads). The latter grouping, whose afliates claim indifference to racial politics in that they view themselves as neither racist nor anti-racist, is a fragmented and ambiguous grouping. As I will discuss below, the group under investigation was primarily comprised of skinheads who identied themselves as trads; but what this identication entails, its meanings, and its negotiation was not straightforward, and, as I will suggest, was often a position which allowed for more covert forms of racism and less visible identications with whiteness, reminiscent of a wider hegemonic differentialist racism which I earlier sketched. INVESTIGATING THE VIRTUAL SKINHEAD An assortment of racist, non-racist and anti-racist skinhead websites,6 illustrates the range of identity possibilities in relation to skinhead culture. Yet on their own, such sites do not reveal the processes which give rise to a specic skinhead subject position vis-a-vis race and racism. The interpretation and negotiation of meaning occurs at the level of interaction, as the practices, actions and gestures which produce and maintain identity, are carried out through routine, mundane relations (Butler, 1990). While identity is produced in relation to the external eld (the nexus of circulating discourses), it is not a systematic relationship, whereby one can predict the effects of the social on the psychical. What is enunciated and what this constructs is neither, as Pellegrini puts it, once for all nor all for one (1997: 83). On the contrary, identity is always in progress, the subject always in the process of becoming, as they actively interpret and negotiate (social) meaning. There are several skinhead newsgroups, which draw participants interested in skinhead culture from around the world. This study concerns itself with one such group. While ethnography has traditionally been concerned with locality-based action in material environments, it was clear from early observations that this newsgroup was a site of signicant and meaningful interaction for the groups participants. The participants made use of various techniques to convey physicality, emotion and feeling: colloquial vernacular (an indication of locality), the selection of specic words which expressed subtly in feeling, the use of uppercase letters to
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denote anger or shouting, and the more explicit use of emoticons. Methods for constructing individual idiosyncrasies included the use of quotes, automatically incorporated at the end of each message, lyrics from skinhead songs, or hypertext links to favourite or self-authored websites. These modes constructed and communicated versions of the self , and they were read and interpreted by others as style and dress might be read ofine. Collectively, interactions, which constituted the skinhead newsgroup, engendered a feeling of community. Long-standing members formed meaningful friendly and adversarial relationships with others, and this provided a social and historical context which grounded the eld. The newsgroup site was complex and multi-layered, a space which was signicant for the participants whose ofine experience was evidently tethered to their online experience (Denzin, 1999: 108). A shared skinhead identity inscribes the boundaries of the skinhead community. Not xed or organized around any mediated material place, the groups participants are geographically and globally7 dispersed, though the majority of those actively participating8 tend to be located in North America (primarily the USA) and Europe (primarily the UK). Despite this geographical scattering, the group is both familiar and close; discussions are intimate and casual, the dialogue is brief, conversational and colloquial. The core participants are long-standing: the characters, Bill, Stephen, Tom, Ska Star, Roddy, Wire, and Lenny form the foundation of the community. I came to know most of the group as a PhD researcher who was interested in nding out more about skinhead culture; it was assumed by most of the group that I was both Male9 and North American. I was invited to stick around, and some of the vocal group members agreed (tentatively) to answer some questions. What follows are my interpretations of the data arising from a year long ethnographic inquiry into this group, gleamed from observations and discussions between some of the skinheads and myself, which took place both in the public arena of the newsgroup and via private email. REAL SKINS ARENT RACIST . . . In light of the homogenized accounts of skin culture, I was immediately struck by the heterogeneity of skinhead identity as represented by the groups members. Perhaps because of this variegation, the question of what it means to be an authentic skin turned out to be a central concern for all of the participants. Being accepted and understood by others as authentic was fundamental, and this made the threat of being labelled a phoney a useful means to prohibit behaviour deemed as unauthentic (as I discuss below). It was also striking that the issue of race and racism was a continuing concern given that this was primarily a trad (non-racist, nonpolitical) group. Indeed, it was clear early on that the issues of race and
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racism were the spectres which threaded this varied group. Discussions on these topics, though, were often initiated by outsiders, in the form of cross-posts or messages sent by trolls. Cross-posts came largely in two forms: the rst were messages posted by apparent anti-racists who sent messages to the group reproaching members for their assumed nazi beliefs. The second were messages cross-posted from white-supremacist newsgroups, no doubt assuming that they were reaching like-minded individuals. Ska Star, a prominent anti-racist skinhead, regularly challenges the skinhead/racist equivalence which these cross postings infer. However, he is not the only skinhead to assume this responsibility. In response to a racist message warning that the world is becoming browner, participant Bill responds:
Im sorry but from my own experience white+black = light brown, white+Asian = lighter brown than Asian. The world could be seen as becoming lighter so why look at it the other way around. Is the glass half empty or half full?

To which Tom adds:


I agree. Just remember that when you mix black and yellow, it turns green. Paint and markers and such its some chemical reaction in the pigments. Ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie, they forever go together theyre the classic combination. Seriously, though, I agree w/Bill whether the world is getting lighter or darker depends on your outlook, and it doesnt necessarily mean a damn thing either way. I dated a half-European, half-Japanese girl; I had a half-black, halfwhite roommate; a Chinese friend of mine is married to a blue-eyed, blond girl . . . and the list goes on. Race doesnt matter in friendship or love, so who cares?

As the participants take issue with a racist belief that the world is getting browner, the dominant image of racist skinheads is undermined. Nonetheless, while these core participants actively engage to contest the racist claim in this instance, it would be erroneous to suggest that the group is typically anti-racist. For the place of race and the issue of racism within the group turned out to be far more ambiguous, and was an issue of ongoing contention. Seeking any denitive conclusions regarding its place were complicated by the various covert forms of racism in operation, which were not widely perceived as racist (as I discuss later), the general heterogeneity of the group, and the fact that skinness proved to be dynamic, uid, and always beyond total comprehension. Nevertheless, the signicance of race in skinhead culture was an issue that I broached early on, somewhat accidentally, as I attempted to respond to Ska Stars suspicions that my research would repeat the recurring stereotypes of skinheads as racist thugs.
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Ska Star had replied to my original appeal for help, asking:


Why?? So you can paint yet another false picture of the skinhead subculture?? So you can further force feed lies and bullshit down the throats of an ignorant public?? Nevermind, I am in a bad mood this morning.

To which I replied:
Fair comments Ska Star. But, Im really not out to do this. Im looking at the white pride movement in general. Skinheads historically have had some relationship with racism. It is equally interesting that this is becoming less so.

This response only seemed to annoy Ska Star further, as he added:


What a crock of shit. More lies and distortion. Get your facts straight, my friend.

A response from Tom was in more friendly terms:


It looks like you got the history backwards organized racism didnt have any history with the original skinheads in the 1960s . . . lurk around here awhile, you might learn a lot more just reading these posts than you would interviewing a racist . . .

Bill responds:
When you look at the history of skinheads there has always been a history of chauvinism and a kind of irony at the screwball way of modern life in cities. Gangs of skins hanging around the young Jamaican sounds like a great example of a multicultural society but they did go around kicking seven balls out of Pakistanis. Of course blacks play this down. They were only following the skins and trying to t in . . . Even so, I still think it is wrong for neo-Nazis to try and use this to dene the skinhead culture.

Tom replies:
Bill . . . I fully agree that there was Paki-bashing etc. among the 60s skins, I just wanted to point out that there wasnt *organized* racism, no British movement or National Front or White Aryan Resistance or anything like them, originally. The presence of racism, hippie-bashing, etc. among the original skins is one reason I dont consider anti-racist activities a part of being a skin any more than organized racist activities. Both came later.

The above interchange between Ska Star, Tom, Bill, and myself, and nally what turned into an exchange between Tom and Bill, is revealing. It illustrates varying subject positions in relation to the issue of skin culture
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and racism. From Ska Star who thoroughly rejects the link, to Tom who does not see racism as a genuine part, to Bill who acknowledges some past associations. It also exposes some of the mechanisms which produce these differing standpoints. In particular, the role of historical narratives, which are employed as a means to establish or to refute a link. Bill draws attention to the implication of skinhead involvement in Paki-bashing in the 1970s, but an archaeology of skinhead history which is taken to its ultimate (ontological) limits by Tom, who articulates what Ska Star infers, that the original skins of the 1960s (the authentic founding skins) were not involved in racist activity. For both Tom and Ska Star (who dispute linkages between the original skins and racism), racism is not considered to be a part, let alone an essential part of skin culture. Being an authentic skin today is shown to be dependent on the ontological beginnings of skin culture. Not what comes after and transforms skin culture, which is imagined as static and unchanging. For Ska Star and Tom this leaves no room for racism; for them, those racists claiming to be skins, and who declare that it is a constituent of skin culture are, contrary to popular belief, the impostors, also known as boneheads. Ska Star frequently draws attention to the Jamaican rude boy inuences exhibited throughout skinhead culture, such as the musical styles of reggae, the inuences of blues, and the sounds of rocksteady.10 Ska Stars sign-in name, which signies these inuences, operates as a continual reminder of multi-racial beginnings, and signal Ska Stars own commitment to the promotion of skinhead identity as an anti-racist one. Four months after the above exchange, the matter of the skinhead/racist relationship again arose, rekindled by a recently published skinhead book. Ska Star again rejected the association, this time in response to remarks made by Bill who asserted that ethnic minorities, generally, are mistrustful of skinheads. This time a debate ensues between Bill, who is joined by Stephen (both of whom are British), and Ska Star (who is Canadian). The following dialogue, an example from this debate, reveals how differing historical narratives inform how the now is experienced (Parker, 1997), and also accentuates some of the local and regional peculiarities at work in the production of antagonistic, historical accounts, as Bill makes clear:
I was talking about Britain. In Britain, most blacks hate skins. Ive had black people in the street start giving me shite when they dont know the rst thing about me. Canada has a totally different social history attached to skins in a different culture and over a different time span . . .

Stephen concurs, and adds, directing his response at Ska Star:


. . . Because it exists in the UK. Skinheads have *always* been associated with and active in racism here. As someone who was alive and remembers 1969 and
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the early 70s clearly, believe me the thing you heard most about skinheads was racism and football violence. You didnt hear about the wonderful embracing of Caribbean music/culture and ska. I have this clear memory of seeing skinheads on the front page of the newspaper after a riot in some seaside resort from when I was about 12 and guess what? I wanted to be one. . . . . . . Shaved head, boots = racist in most peoples eyes . . . I have to agree with Bill. There is a link in the public mind and always has been (in the UK at least) between skinheads and racism. You cant ignore or not acknowledge it. West-Indians and Asians do have an inherent mistrust of any white guys with shaved heads. You can see it and feel it as you walk down the street even if nothing is said . . .

Common to these historical accounts is the importance placed on the past, which is privileged as the site of authentic action, the present the site of its effects. For Canadian Ska Star and the American Tom, the historical origins of skinhead culture are conceptualized as linear and total, as they pinpoint an inception unconnected in any way to racism, and this serves as the cast for the authentic skin today. Tom, on the other hand, acknowledges the racist happenings of the 70s, but maintains that the absence of organized racism and anti-racism in the beginning makes skinheads neither racist nor anti-racist, rather it makes skinheads non-racist. For Bill, the racist actions of the past, while not a founding component of skin culture, are a little more signicant, affecting relations with ethnic others. For Stephen, skinhead history is always-already racist, and it was this racialist past (at least in part) that Stephen confesses compelled him to want to be one. Each mode of recollection, invested with meaning, produces and authenticates each of the speakers skin identity in the present, yet these antagonistic recollections of the past also expose a history (and a present) continually in negotiation and process. The debates and contestations which are apparent through these dialogues, are extremely signicant for the skins, for much is at stake. By laying claim to the authenticity of their account against which they position themselves, they announce and performatively afrm to themselves and to others who and what they are, in short, authentic skinheads. For instance, Ska Stars insistence on multi-cultural beginnings gives credence to his explicitly anti-racist skinhead identity; in contrast, Stephens insistence on racial links (though not essential) authenticates his previous racist skinhead identity. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that debates revolving around this and similar issues of authenticity continually recur, for the most compelling historical account conrms the speaker as appropriately skinned. More signicant, perhaps, is what arises as a result of these types of dialogue, namely an (sometimes tacit) agreement that racism and anti-racism have no essential connection to skinhead culture. Even self-proclaimed
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racists such as Wire, a female, white-pride skinhead, [who] believes in the separation of the races, concurs, as she remarks: Its not about racism, even though thats what most people see about it in the media. This is conrmed as Wire takes issue with the barrage of racist, but non-skin specic, material sent to the group:
You stupid son of a bitch . . . most skinheads arent white racists (and in my experience, most who start out as both just end up becoming one or the other, either burning out on the racism or nally guring out theyre not really skins)

Much of the anger generated by racist cross-posts can be explained by the shared group intolerance for non-skinhead contributions. More signicantly, though, it is a performative act which enables a known racist to effectively distance themselves from boneheads (racist skinheads); thus an opportunity to establish oneself as authentic. In a group seemingly hostile to the idea of the racist/skinhead equivalence, skinheads only in it for the racism are condemned as impostors; thus, as Wire postures irritably to racist cross posts, she establishes that she transcends the equivalence, as she asserts a skinhead identity not reducible to a racist one. Open expulsions of racism, which results in an apparent group decision involving the non-role of racism (but not of known racists) in skinhead culture, is a manoeuvre which allows the participants to interrupt the skinhead/racist equivalence. At the same time, it enables them, even those who believe in the separation of the races, to rid themselves of the racist label and to see themselves as moderate and non-racist. What I want to suggest is that this self and group distancing from racism, which is clearly understood as explicit and discriminatory, creates a specic context which parallels a wider cultural happening; namely, an environment in which a differentialist racial logic is legitimized and normalized. As I discuss below, this involves establishing the group as neither racist nor anti-racist, and, moreover, establishing skinhead identity as a white identity, while appearing to elide the question of race and ethnicity (McPherson, 2000). FENCE-WALKING OR WHITE WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING A neither racist nor anti-racist stance, also referred to as fence-walking is personied by Bill, who declares that he is a trad or a non-racist, and for this reason indifferent to politics:
. . . These days I dont prescribe to either politics. It achieved nothing but to split the scene right down the middle. It cut down the potential for meeting up with other skins by 50 %.

This neither racist nor anti-racist position (known to skins as fencewalking), which at rst glance appears to be a political neutral
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position, is unsustainable, and this becomes apparent in and through inconsistent and ambivalent performances. Visible throughout the research was Bills on-going involvement in discussions oscillating around matters of race, ethnicity and racism, an observation which seemed at variance with his repeated afrmations of indifference. Bill is a pivotal gure in the group, and affords great respect. He is a longstanding British skinhead, characteristics which appear to carry signicance within the group, signalling commitment and allegiance as well as marks of authenticity. This made his evaluative comments concerning race all the more signicant for the groups dynamic. Thus, when Bill declares that skins are neither racist nor anti-racist, his utterance operates to police the group, leaving minimal room for either politic, at least explicitly. Bills high standing within the group partly explains this, but, importantly, Bill also appears impartial in matters revolving around race. As Bill condemns both extreme racists (understood as overt) and anti-racists (understood as zealots), he mediates a polarization which locates him as moderate or neutral; while he risks alienating both sides, for the most part he succeeds in appearing non-aligned regardless (or perhaps because) of his ambivalence. During one conversation, Bill reveals past connections with racism in his earlier skinhead days:
When I moved to . . . (inner city area), the skins were much more organised in terms of the NF/BM thing. They had their own pub and had meetings and shit like that. I got to know a bloke called Tony who I started doing a zine with.11 It wasnt a specically White Power zine. It was called Wonderful World of Oi. I listened to Screwdriver . . . It seemed right at that particular moment in time. When I met some of the other NF skins, they were complete muppets and I soon realized that for every one like Tony who had no police record as such and was very articulate, there were four or ve dumb fucks with nothing better to do than go round taunting Pakis . . . The WP skins had CS gas by the truckload and loved dropping a canister at gigs to show theyd been . . .

This passage, which reveals Bills involvement with racism in the past, does not have the effect of tarnishing him with racism; on the contrary, Bill effectively dissociates the Bill of now from the racist label by recounting his rejection of the racist scene. It would also appear that Bill has never been really racist at all since the real racists are represented as the muppets (not articulate skins such as Tony and, by inference, himself). Bills self-distancing from racism allows him to enact less explicit forms. This is aided by a general vision of racism within the group which is perceived as organized practice. Indeed Tom rebuffs the link between skins and racism on the very grounds that among the 60s skins . . . there wasnt *organized* racism, even though in the same sentence he admits, there was Paki-bashing etc. Hence, when Bill states, Im not a racist but I dont like Pakis, he is not viewed as racist. The non-racist self-declaration,
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coupled with the image of racism as organized, leaves little room for more prominent anti-racists in the group to counter the clear racism of the utterance. This is further enabled by Bills eminent position within the group, which means that his (and others) comments go uncontested, creating conditions for more insidious, differentiating modes of racism to ourish. SKINHEADS R WHITE: ESSENTIALIZING IDENTITY AND THE BLACK PRETENDER An unfamiliar skinhead, Africanskinhead, posts a message to the group entitled, Boneheads from a Black skinheads perspective. Given the dominant image of skinheads this message seemed signicant.[A.I1] The black inuences of ska and reggae are widely overlooked in popular depictions. Thus the motivations of this poster for incorporating a skin identity were, in the face of its racist connections, intriguing. However, Africanskinheads visit to the newsgroup was eeting and he did not appear again through the duration of the research. His remarks, however, generated much debate. Conversations once again returned to the issue of race, although this time the discussions focused on whether blacks could be skinheads. Taken as given in wider culture is the skinhead norm as always-white, and this was evidently an assumption made by the majority of skinheads in the group. Previous debates on the status of racism assumed a priori the whiteness of skins, who do or who do not posture aggressively against the non-white Other. When Bill states, . . . I cant ever see skins hanging around with blacks in Britain. Blacks hate skins and they believe us all to be Nazis, he does not simply make an observation about the general state of racerelations, he also (re)establishes skins as already-white. This differentiating discourse constructs whiteness as a fact, in a manoeuvre which also constructs and separates blackness from skinness. Not only does this speech act (re)establish racial identities as xed absolutes, it quite specically makes blackness incompatible with a cultural identity which turns out to be ethnically exclusive. If the place of racism (understood in narrow terms) is radically undecided by those in the group, the ethnicity of authentic skins appears a little more clear-cut, despite the exclusionary and absolutist processes at work in this recognition. Even as Ska Star attempts to negotiate a more inclusive skin identity, one in which blacks are included (hence undercutting ethnic and racial absolutes established by Bill), Roddy (an adversary of Ska Star) effectively disregards any possibility:
Lots of blacks cropped their hair and wore the fashions of the day back in the sixties, even had skinhead friends perhaps . . . still werent skins.
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Despite the historical presence of blacks in skinhead gangs, particularly in the rst wave of the skinhead movement, Roddy refuses the possibility of a black skin identity. Black people with baldheads who might take a skinhead style are, for Roddy, ostensibly pretenders. They are differentiated from the authentic white skinhead, and in so doing whiteness is rendered an ethnic certainty, transcendent to skinhead culture. The black Other provides the contours against which the white skinhead stands for denition, as whiteness is made to strike the pose of realness (Dyer, 1997), lending immediate racial embodiment to the disembodied dialogue on the computer screen. Without explicit assertions, whiteness, then, is made to appear as the immutable quality which displays authenticity. For the notion of authenticity itself points to a characteristic which is essential and unchanging: clothing, haircut, music listened to, are all viewed as malleable easily appropriated; race and ethnic identity, understood as disprovable facts, provide the thread and a contour. Only Ska Star makes any sincere attempt to undercut the white skinhead subject as incarnated by Bill and others, and he is further regulated by Stephen, who responds to him, stating, I never quite understand why you insist on pushing this racial division and pressing the racial hysteria, but you do . . . Ska Star is at once made to speak partially and ideologically, unlike others who are regarded as making commonsense, objective observations; Ska Star is represented not only, paradoxically, as the one obsessed with race but also for having an agenda (he has a Black girlfriend, he once belonged to SHARP), who is always politically motivated, always speaking as an extreme anti-racist and never just as a skin. AUTHENTIC SKINHEADS UNITE Despite the centrality of the race issue to this group, on the surface most of the participants aggressively denied any real links between race/racism and skinhead authenticity. I thus asked the group to characterize what was mutual between them. I received a resounding response from most of the core participants that the most critical facets were unity and pride A more detailed response from Stephen made it clear that unity is about comradeship and loyalty from my mates, its being ready to drop what youre doing and help out no questions asked; while Wire suggested that unity was a transcendence of politics. A feeling of group unity was engendered as participants postured aggressively towards outsiders: newbies, visiting non-skins, and especially researchers such as myself. Acting with some hostility and suspicion put the other on the outside of the group, which established it as bounded, exclusive and cohesive. However, the idea of friendship overcoming politics was not as straightforward, and again the spectre of racial authenticity surfaced. Roddy, a more overt racist, was frequently involved in heated
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discussions with visiting anti-racists (some of whom were skinheads), involving unequivocally racist and homophobic epithets, as the following instance highlights:
More fag shit from the gay nigger. Predictable. At least you didnt butcher the language this time. Youre learning . . . And they said we couldnt teach you savages to be civilized.

In one case, Roddy is involved in a racial dispute and nds himself underattack. At this point Bill interjects and supports Roddy, adding his own racial slur, as he comments:
This is the only really funny bit Paddy. I dunno, give a Paddy a computer and all of a sudden they tink deyre smart.

Bills apparent show of unity towards Roddy, goes uncontested by others in the group, even though Bills support seems to endorse and to encourage Roddy to continue in the same racist vein:
Oh come on, Bill, give the mick some credit, he did pretty well for someone from a nation who almost starved to death when they ran out of potatoes.

Bill appears to transcend politics and so seems to realize the essential component of skin culture: unity, making it difcult for others in the group to challenge either Roddy (whose position is sanctioned by Bills backing) or Bill, who can lay claim to be merely doing what an authentic skin does i.e. stick up for your skinhead mates no questions asked. But the undecided place of racism in skin culture produces a number of antagonistic relationships, signicantly between more explicitly anti-racists, such as Ska Star, and more openly racist skinheads, such as Roddy. This not only exposed the on-going magnitude of race and the dis-continuities of skin identity, it pointed to an inevitable dilemma for (supposedly) non-racists of whom to performatively (in the sense that it establishes the backer as authentically uniting) support? When Ska Star questions Bill about his defence of racists in spite of his non-racist claim, Bill responds:
. . . Thats the thing you hate about me, that I dont instantly dismiss someone because they are a nazi/nationalist/white power. I can understand non-whites having a pop at them for what they say, but Im white. Its not me theyre offending . . . Its a pathetic notion that you should disown even your own family if they were racist.

While Bills non-racist position is revealed to be thoroughly racist as he selectively and tacitly sanctions the utterances of those such as Roddy (so conrming Roddy as a real skinhead as opposed to a bonehead), his appeal
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to notions of kinship and unity make it difcult for others (who might be inclined) to counter what is said. Bills (ctive) impartiality here is crucial; were an explicit racist to support another racist, the transparency of the prejudice would become intolerable, the support appearing to be offered because of a shared racist identity. Throughout the research process it became increasingly evident that some in the group were more united than others, that solidarity and friendship were conditional, and depended on your perceived skinhead authenticity. For those such as Ska Star, moments of being included were eeting, and were largely contingent on a willingness to conform and to consent to a non-racist position. This dynamic enabled a more insidious racism to circulate, one which sanctioned racist banter, and which took as given the whiteness of real skinheads, which always necessitated on-going processes of expulsion and denials of blackness. Unity, if only tacitly, was predicated on authenticity, itself understood as equivalent to whiteness. Yet this equivalence was concealed from view through a claimed indifference to racial politics. The convergences between explicit avowals of white unity and skinhead unity were viewed as utterly unrelated. Those who claimed to be white pride skinheads unied not through a shared skin identity but through a shared whiteness were regarded as boneheads. The group members tended to discount the consequences arising from their own implicit commitment to whiteness, and the exclusionary and absolutist logic that this promoted. MASCULINITY Unity was not simply contingent on an assumed shared whiteness but on a particular form of whiteness. To be authentically skinned you must also be appropriately male: tough and, most critically, heterosexual. This not only provided boundaries for skin identity, it simultaneously shaped whiteness. This was accomplished in part by the participants on-going (autobiographical) narratives, which told of stories of nights out, calling attention to the amount of beer drunk, blurred memories and hangovers. Descriptions of tattoos, favourite football teams, chronicles from the terraces, evoking a peculiarly traditional British, working class masculinity, not only by British skinheads but an image appropriated by others from other locales. Yet an appropriated image at once belied by other (inconsistent) autobiographical accounts, which revealed University qualications, professional jobs, values more commonly associated with the (British) middle-class, including the pursuit of respectability, an intolerance of the welfare state, and so forth. Motifs of violence appeared to universally translate in a much less ambiguous way, unanimously attested to through narratives evoking brawls and tussles. A show of violence was rarely portrayed as mindless or
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meaningless, but a means for realizing more abstract (integral) principles; for instance, being able to stand up for yourself and your mates (in a show of unity), or simply having a laugh. Moores (1994) research indicates the centrality of ght narratives to skin culture, and explains: The good time is the act, the story the evidence, and authenticity the verdict bought down on the act (1994:142). Installed through ght narratives was an antagonistic, hyper-masculinity standing contra the effeminate gay man. Skinhead maleness was thus further maintained through a discursive expulsion or distancing of things which did not belong, such as vulnerability, frailty, powerlessness, and queerness. These qualities were construed as belonging some place else, specically, with women and gay men. A patently visible homophobic discourse was endemic to the group, which emasculated and made deviant the gay man. The hetero-sexist policing operated to keep in check a certain form of maleness, which was deployed to govern the boundaries of (white) skinhead sexuality. Homophobic slurs frequently intersected with racial epithets. The inter-articulation of racial and sexual difference effectively consolidated the speakers separateness from these deviancies, and, at the same time, this differentiating narrative established the skinhead as genuine, namely, as (the opposite of these deviancies) white and heterosexual. In a milieu so openly hostile to gayness, it was with some surprise that Stephen responded to a question I posed on skinhead sexuality, by announcing publicly that he was gay. Unexpectedly, everyone who commented on Stephens outing (including Bill and later Roddy, who was initially away when the episode occurred) was accepting and supportive. While these responses might seem to signal a shift in attitude towards gayness, further observations revealed that this acceptance was conditional. In short, on Stephens self-distancing from gay qualities, deemed contrary to a very particularized white masculine core. This involved a propagation of Stephens own homophobic utterances, which helped to re-inscribe the hetero-sexualized boundaries of skin culture, and further allowed Stephen to differentiate himself from the effeminate real gay man. Stephens performance is revealed to be everything. The sedimentation of his homophobic utterances and his aggressive posturing is enough to establish him as an authentic skinhead. This is an image which he only momentarily disrupts, since he does not re-iterate his difference. By talking the homophobic talk, Stephen defends himself against a homophobic culture but one which he at once recapitulates (Pellegrini, 1997). But his outing exposes a blatant dis-continuity at the heart of skin identity, the tenuousness of a specic white, heterosexual masculinity, on which skin identity is supposedly founded. In the end, Stephens potentially subversive act is policed through self-regulation, his declaration clearly out of sync with the culture of the group, which is seemingly too uncomfortable.
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CONCLUSIONS: CENTRING THE EXTREME This study underscores that racism and racist practice (violent or otherwise) is not conned to identiable groups of people who can be readily categorized and heralded as inherently racist. This characterization unwittingly infers that racism is easily spotted and on the fringe of political life (Gilroy, 1992: 51). Indeed this skinhead group was not typically explicitly racist, but instead enacted subtler forms of racism, characteristic of a wider contemporary racial project, where racial discourse is more intent in constructing and separating racial and ethnic identities, in an effort to create permanent contours between Self and Other. These processes were illustrated in and through many of the skinhead participants shared investments in white identity, a signier of authentic skinness, which necessitated the violent (literal and metaphorical) exclusion of the Other, even while this involved a revision of the skinhead cultures hybrid roots and development (Nayak, 1999: 83). It is clear that investments in white identity exceed discreet groups such as skinheads. Whether identication with whiteness is explicit, through the node of skinness, or through more everyday and seemingly legitimate mechanisms, such as national or regional identity, the processes enabling absolutist identications are alike. That is, the expulsion of the Other, since racial and ethnic categories become meaningful only when they operate along an axis of difference, as groups are constructed with specic and unique qualities, and differentiated from other groups on the grounds of mutual incompatibility. This requires the brutal erasure of the Other, not only through exclusionary mechanisms in the present, but also an erasure of the Other through historical narratives, since how we recount the past profoundly effects our understandings of the now, as this study underscores. This study also highlights that the disembodied world does not do away with racial, ethnic, and gendered subjectivities. However, since the substance of the body and the spatial (the material which is proffered as proof for racial ontologies) is carried through to the virtual world more obviously discursively (hence making it in the very least seem more permeable), then it may be a space, not where we are able to transcend them entirely as in utopian accounts of identity and the internet, but a space where their seeming veracity is not so compelling. These conditions could create space, among other things, for a more rigorous hybridization of culture, whereby the notion of separate and unique racial identities is problematized. For the internet offers the capacity to bring new, previously muted voices into dialogue, upsetting reied and monolithic narratives of whiteness (and other identities understood as xed), as marginal voices negotiate and contest established historical tenets from which they have been excluded, and which give rise to narrow and exclusionary
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identications in the present. Indeed, if the Other was shown and understood as always being there (historically), it becomes difcult to maintain both the notion that the Other is the Self s absolute difference, and in turn that they are incompatible in the now.

Notes
1 Skinheads clearly are not the only image of the racist. Different social, cultural and historical environments give rise to diverse personications: from the hooded klansman to the Nazi soldier. 2 See publications by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight and the anti-racist Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors racism on the internet 3 Cinematic representations such as Romper Stomper, Made In Britain, American History X, serve to illustrate the extent to which skinhead identity is entwined with images of racism. Each lm, set in different continents, points also to the global currency of skinhead meaning. 4 See, for instance, websites created by the British Hammerskins. 5 Mark Hamms seminal criminological study, American Skinheads, and Moores Shaved For Battle. . . . 6 Skinhead websites are often self-identied as racist, non-racist (traditional), or antiracist. When they were not, I distinguished websites by assessing the overall tenor of the content. For example, did the website include a history of anti-racist skinheads; were there links to more explicit websites; what specic music groups were alluded to, etc. While imperfect, this categorization pointed to the array of skinhead identity possibilities. 7 It is critical not to interpret the meaning of global for universal, for it is clear that the internet is accessed by only a small fraction of the global population, its use is unevenly concentrated in western industrial nations, where it is further distributed unequally along race and class lines. 8 It is impossible to know how many others lurk and merely observe the discussions in newsgroups. At times lurkers post messages when a point of interest arises, but tend to retreat into lurkedom. 9 I chose a deliberately androgynous name for this research gure. Early observations had revealed the group to be a male dominated domain and I was concerned by the response (or lack of) that a female researcher might induce. 10 See Hebdige (1978). 11 The term zine refers to Fanzine, an amateur magazine

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New Media & Society 8(2)

ALEX CAMPBELL is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of New England. She has a BA (Hons) in Cultural Studies, and an MPhil and PhD in Criminology from the University of Cambridge. She has researched and co-authored numerous works in the area of race and racism in Britain, and she is currently working on a book, which explores white identity online. Her other research interests include the globalization of communication technologies and the consequences of these developments for cultural, social, and national identities. Address: Department of Sociology, The University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Rd., Biddeford, Maine 04005, USA. [email: acampbell@une.edu]

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