Reflecting on long-term intensive ethnographic fieldwork, we sketch a “constellation” framework for understanding U.S. extremist white supremacy. Rather than tracing fluctuating people and organizations to explain the persistence of white supremacist extremism, we suggest that focusing on a core set of practices, ideas, and emotions offers a more complex, nuanced, and useful interpretation. We contrast our constellation framework with more typical “bucket” approaches that tend to compartmentalize a complex reality into categories that do not sufficiently match extremism’s dynamism.

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