Fighting Authoritarianism: “Harry Potter” and Millennial Political Activism

The influence of the Harry Potter series on Millennial political activism has been explored in a chapter of a new book all about the next generation of leadership in the United States.

TIME correspondent Charlotte Alter has explored the impact that Harry Potter as a cultural phenomenon has had on Millennials and political activism in her new book, The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America.



In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Alter revealed that she first noticed the influence of the series when interviewing students who had survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Many of them, independently, brought up Harry Potter and were comparing their quest to defeat the [National Rifle Association] to Harry Potter and his friends’ quest to defeat Voldemort. And as soon as I started seeing it, I noticed it was everywhere.

In a chapter titled “Harry Potter and the Spawn of the Boomers,” Alter explores the wide-reaching impact of the Potter series on the lives of Millennials and how it has influenced the way they see the political world and their place in it.

It has fundamentally shaped how many of these young people see their role in the world and also their responsibility in terms of what is good and what is evil. Harry Potter is a story about authoritarianism. It’s a story about young people banding together to fight an authoritarian ruler who is enabled by feckless adults who don’t want to stand up to him.

And it’s not just the fight against authoritarianism that the series has inspired. Fan activism can be found in every corner of the Harry Potter fandom. The Harry Potter Alliance has been turning fans into heroes since 2005, the Protego Foundation fights for animal rights, and Transfiguring Adoption supports foster and adoptive families through a Harry Potter-based curriculum – to name just a few examples.

The Harry Potter Alliance tweeted its support for Alter’s book, adding that another influence of the Potter series has been the shared language and identity that helps Millennials and Generation Z form connections.



Check out Alter’s full interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert below and find out more about Harry Potter fan activism on MuggleNet.


Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!

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