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ARENAS – Analysis of and Responses to Extremist Narratives

By Denise Callan, EU Projects and Communications Specialist

We are facing the “post-truth” world, characterised by conspiracy theories, overwhelming disinformation, fake news and extremist narratives. As Europeans prepare to vote in the European Parliament elections in June, we must carefully interrogate the information presented and empower people, to critically evaluate media and digital technology.

ARENAS is a Horizon Europe research project that looks at extremist narratives that affect political and social life in Europe. It examines the nature of these narratives and seeks to understand the discourses they impact, particularly about science, gender and the nation.

The work on this four-year project is being carried out by a consortium of 12 organisations from 9 countries. These include universities, NGOs, and private sector organisations including Momentum Educate and Innovate from Ireland. Momentum is responsible for the communication, dissemination and exploitation of the project, and is contributing to developing effective training and workshops for professionals working with institutions, judges, lawyers, etc.

Momentum has a multidisciplinary team working on ARENAS. An experienced team of graphic designers, videographers and website designers collaborated to develop a strong visual identity for ARENAS.  The creation of published content is led by Denise Callan and the experienced team of EU project officers at Momentum who work with partners to support the creation of blogposts, ezines, project reports and any other materials required. Anthony Carty is collaborating with French and Italian partners to develop training materials.

Topics being researched include the characterisation, detection, circulation and influence of extremist narratives, the mediations and remedies for extremist narratives, and the ethics and norms of political science. Actively questioning and challenging extremist narratives helps safeguard democracy, maintain trust, and promote informed decision-making during European elections.

As year one of the project concludes, the consortium is gathering in May for a three-day meeting in Dusseldorf to present and discuss findings to date. The ARENAS consortium focuses on the narratives as crucial nexuses, because “the battle of stories, not the debate on issues” can determine how citizens react to political events. To learn more about the project, visit ARENAS and get regular updates on events, research and results by following the project’s social media channels.