Populist Discourse and Claims to Authenticity in Brazil, India and Ukraine

How are claims to authen­ticity used in the dis­courses of populism in Brazil, India and Ukraine, and what is the sig­nifi­cance of mediality in this frame­work? Debates on authen­ticity as found in post-colonial or post-socialist social con­texts have to date been left out from theo­retical re­flec­tions on populism and its authori­tarian ten­den­cies. That is precisely where this project comes into play. Fund­ament­alist and (right-wing) populist move­ments that put pressure on existing dominant dis­courses are on the in­crease world­wide, including in Brazil, India and Ukraine. Populists claim to be advo­cates for the true and authentic voice of ‘the people’. With attentive­ness being a scarce commodity in the digital age, their attempts to outshout the com­petition and find an au­dience for their claims of authenticity are shrill and piercing. The frequent emphasis put on authenticity can be viewed as a protest against main­stream construct­ivism or as a confir­mation of the plural­ization of opin­ions.

In this research project, interdisciplinary and comparative discussions were organized jointly with experts from Brazil, India and Ukraine. The aim was to examine the ways in which populist discourses are used to construct claims for authenticity, how such discourses are reflected in different influential media formats, such as school textbooks, and what role the inherent dynamics of social media play in the radicalization of discourses. The focus was set on country-specific social controversies concerning historical narrative and remembrance practices, the parties involved and their interests as well as the media strategies applied.

The Volkswagen Foundation funded the project from August 2017 to January 2019. The lead institution was the Georg Eckert Institute – Leibniz Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI). The project team included: Barbara Christophe (GEI), Heike Liebau (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, ZMO), Christoph Kohl (GEI and Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, PRIF) and Achim Saupe (Centre for Contemporary History, ZZF). The project had been developed and was conducted in a cooperative venture within the Leibniz Research Alliance Historical Authenticity.

Project director:
  • Kohl, Christoph

Partners

Georg-Eckert-Institut – Leibniz-Institut für internationale Schulbuchforschung (GEI)
Georg-Eckert-Institut – Leibniz-Institut für internationale Schulbuchforschung (GEI)
http://www.gei.de/home.html
Leibniz-Forschungsverbund Historische Authentizität
Leibniz-Forschungsverbund Historische Authentizität
http://www.leibniz-historische-authentizitaet.de/start/
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
https://www.zmo.de/
Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung – Institut der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (ZZF)
Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung – Institut der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (ZZF)
www.zzf-potsdam.de

Donors

VolkswagenStiftung
VolkswagenStiftung
www.volkswagenstiftung.de/en