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.
- Kohl, Christoph