UTSA criminal justice honor society hosts Nov. 14 lecture on hate groups

Pete Simi

Pete Simi

Share this Story

(Nov. 11, 2013) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society will present a lecture by sociologist Pete Simi at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Frio Street Building Sam Riklin Auditorium (1.406) on the UTSA Downtown Campus. Simi's lecture, "Spaces of Hate: the Contemporary U.S. Neo-Nazi Movement," is free and open to the public.

Simi's lecture will focus on the culture and ideology of the modern U.S. neo-Nazi movement. Neo-Nazism is one of the largest socio-political movements dedicated to the tenants of Nazism and white supremacy, or the doctrine that the white race is superior to all others. There are more than 100 active neo-Nazi groups currently operating in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Pete Simi's decade-long research into the white supremacy movement in the U.S. is simply an astonishing feat," said Richard Hartley, chair of the UTSA Department of Criminal Justice and adviser for Alpha Phi Sigma. "His knowledge of the mind-sets, cultures and lifestyles of the various domestic hate groups with which he's worked is second-to-none. This lecture is sure to be invaluable to those interested in understanding why neo-Nazi groups have proliferated at the rate that they have."

Simi is an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, with more than a decade of experience conducting extensive fieldwork with right-wing extremist groups across the United States. His research investigates the reasons various domestic hate groups, white supremacists and neo-Nazism in the United States have thrived by exploring first-hand how they cultivate their membership and ideals.

His 2010 book, "American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement's Hidden Spaces of Hate," co-authored with Robert Futrell, focuses on the hidden world of white supremacy hate groups through an extensive collection of case studies, first-person accounts and in-depth interviews. It was nominated for the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title of the Year award (2010), the C. Wright Mills Award by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2011) and the Charles Tilly Best Book Award by the American Sociological Association (2011).

In 2001, while embedded within the world of white supremacy groups in southern California, Simi met Wade Michael Page, who, in August 2012, fatally shot six people and injured four at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. For approximately two years, the two interacted on a semi-regular basis while Simi conducted his field research.

Recently, Simi has shifted focus to understanding the radicalization and de-radicalization process of individuals who have left these extremist movements behind. His other research interests include juvenile delinquency and gangs, violence, social psychology and qualitative methods. Currently, he also is analyzing the relationship between indicators of adolescent health and delinquency as well as examining the nature and prevalence of street gangs in Omaha, Neb.

"Alpha Phi Sigma hopes that students will be able to use Pete Simi's expertise and guidance as a tool to explore ways to prevent violence by hate groups in the future," said Hartley. "By examining the social spaces of the modern neo-Nazi movement, it might be possible to understand what drives certain individuals to violent outbursts against targeted ethnic or racial groups."

Simi obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science degree from Washington State University. He graduated with an M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

------------------------------

The UTSA Alpha Phi Sigma guest lectures are student-facilitated events that bring members of the criminal justice community together with students at UTSA for candid lectures about the criminal justice field. Students are given the opportunity to learn about the various facets of criminal justice duties, responsibilities and challenges directly from those who live them.

>> Learn more information about the UTSA Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice National Honor Society.

>> For more information about the lecture, contact the UTSA Department of Criminal Justice at 210-458-2535 or email Courtney Rottgering.