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Seeing Fascisim

The Swastika, Constructing the symbol (Malcolm Quinn)The Swastika Constructing the Symbol, my book on the aesthetic of politics in twentieth-century fascism, was published in the ‘Material Cultures’ series from the department of anthropology, University College London in 1994. This series ‘crosses the traditional subject boundaries of archaeology, history and anthropology to consider human society in terms of its production, consumption and social structures.’ My book examined the swastika as one element of a political design for the ‘re-branding’ of Germany within a programme for colonial expansion and genocide on the European continent.

I have returned to the themes and issues of this book in lectures (‘Branding the symptom’ at Brand.New V&A 11- 12 November 2000) journalism (‘The rebranding of Britain: where’s the beef?’ The Independent 21 March 2000),an entry for A Historical Encyclopaedia of World Fascism in 2006 and an interview on the topic of political symbolism and the new Conservative Party logo, by Philip Dodd for Nightlines, BBC Radio 3, also in 2006.  In 2008, I delivered a lecture ‘Occupying the Totalitarian Imagination’ at Romanian Cultural Institute London and gave a television interview for BBC2. I was recently interviewed for a BBC TV documentary on the swastika that will be broadcast in November 2013.  Some of my later publications on this theme have generated their own critical commentaries – for example, my article in The Independent on the re-branding of Britain in has since been cited in articles by Morris (2003) and McKever (2013).

Selected Citations

Wenke Nitz, Die symbolische Repräsentation der faschistischen Diktaturen in Fotografien, in: Politische Ikonographie,, (3) 2010

‘Indeed, as what Malcolm Quinn (1994) calls a migratory image, the brand is continuously being placed and displaced; while having ambitions to define its own context as universal, it only becomes visible, recognizable and mobile through processes of selection and exclusion.’

Celia Lury ‘Marking Time with Nike: The Illusion of the Durable’ The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader London and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 2003 p.384

“Three days before the opening of Tate Britain an article in The Independent unequivocally stated that ‘new fetish images of transmutation and multiplicity have replaced the castellated, defiant and immutable Britain of yore’ (Quinn, 2000: 21).”

Andy Morris, ‘Redrawing the boundaries: questioning the geographies of Britishness at Tate-Britain’, Museum and Society, Nov 2003, pp.178-179

‘Nazism (and by extension Fascism/fascism) was a revolutionary force, offering, in Brown ‘s own words,‘new forms of expression ‘, and a ‘recoding’ of identities. It highlights the central role played by the invasion of socio- psychological space by the symbology of fascism, giving a new dimension to the superbly documented analyses of this process already carried out, for the fasces by Emilio Gentile and the Swastika by Malcolm Quinn.’ Roger Griffin ‘Fascism an Anti-Culture’ Renaissance and Modern Studies 2001 (42), pp. 95-115

‘Quinn mit frappanter Sachkenntnis als Selbsterfahrungstrip der “arischen” Germanen, die schon überall ihre Standarten aufgestellt haben wollen – beispielsweise im alten Troja, weil Schliemann da einschlägige Krakel ausbuddelte. Hitler wußte, welche Saite er in den Deutschen anschlug, als er den Mythenträger zum Staats-Logo erhob und zum knüppelnden Kreuz stilisierte. Und der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch: Auf Glatzen rollt das Rad weiter, nun als Ornament der Furchtbarkeit.’
‘Hitler’s Firmen Logo’, Der Spiegel 52, 1994


1994 ‘The Swastika: Constructing the Symbol, in the ‘Material Cultures‘ series of the  Department of Anthropology, University College London, London: Routledge


Mass Media

2008 Television Interview for Desi DNA BBC2 23 Jan 2008

2006 Interview on the topic of political symbolism and the Conservative Party logo, Nightlines BBC Radio 3

1994 Interview on ‘The Swastika Constructing the Symbol’ for Nightlines BBC Radio 3

Essays. Reviews and Critical Writing

2006 Entry on the Nazi swastika for A Historical Encyclopaedia of World Fascism, ed. Cyprian Blamires, New York: ABC-Clio

21 March 2000 ‘Where’s the Beef?’ The Independent

January 2000 Malcolm Quinn ‘The Customer is Totally Insane’ Blueprint

September 1998 ‘Re-opening old wounds’ a review of Piotr Uklanski’s exhibition ‘The Nazis’ at the Photographers’ Gallery, London, in Blueprint

31 October 1994 ‘A Charm Spinning in Blood’ Times Higher Education Supplement

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