Karlsruhe Dialogues 2009

Right-Wing Extremism in Europe today

Dr. Renate Bitzan




Dr. Renate Bitzan was born in 1965 and is social scientist and a journalist. After she had finished a traineeship and had worked as an editor in the daily newspaper Hessisch-Niedersächsische Allgemeine, she has studied political science, sociology and history at the University of Kassel. Afterwards, she began to work in the feministic centre for women’s education and women’s cultural centre in Bielefeld/Germany.

In 1998 she received her Ph.D. at the University of Kassel on the topic “Zeitschriftenanalyse zur Präsenz von Frauen in rechtsextremen Publikationen und zur ihren heterogenen Positionen im Geschlechterdiskurs – Eine Herausforderung für die feministische Theorieentwicklung?”. In the aftermath she overtook various honorary functions. She for example was responsible for the evaluation at the University of Kassel and worked in the archive of the German women’s movement in Kassel.

From 1999 to 2000 she was scientific assistant at the Zentrum für Europa- und Nordamerika-Studien (ZENS), working in an international research project about migration and interculturality in Great Britain, Spain and Germany.

From 2001 to 2008 she was scientific assistant at the faculty of social sciences in the Georg-August-University Göttingen/Germany, where she was supported by the Dorothea-Erleben-Programme. She is co-founder of the research network Women and Right-Wing Extremism. Bitzan’s main topics of interest are migration, interculturality, gender, globalisation, labour unions, right-wing extremism and racism.

Since 1989 she intensively deals with the topic women and right-wing extremism in research projects, speeches and publications. In 2000 she published her book “Selbstbilder rechter Frauen. Zwischen Antisexismus und völkischem Denken.”

In her opinion, right-wing extremist women mostly refer to ethnic communities, race and nation, and less to gender ideologies, although the individual concepts of life might differ. An increase of special women’s groups can be observed as well as the presence of right-wing extremist women in public performances.

ZAK asked Dr. Renate Bitzan to answer the following question:

What Can Citizens do Against Right-Wing Extremism? 

"First and foremost, information about right-wing parties and organisations is necessary, as well as about their activities, ideological mindsets and symbols. Furthermore, everyday racism in one’s own thoughts and words needs critical reflection, just as rightist extremist comments in one’s personal environment. These should never go unanswered. Discussions are important, but it should always be made clear that a right-wing extremist political attitude is not tolerated. Civil courage can be dangerous and often costs an effort, but it is very important to prevent further abuse. Supporting or initiating alternative recreational activities for children and teenagers protects them from offers from rightist extremists. People may also visit information sessions or rallies and support initiatives with donations. "