Right before Christmas, Barbara De Cock presented some preliminary results as well as the overall method and aims of the TrUMPo project at the colloquium “Us versus Them” Exploring Transatlantic Practices of Fascism(s) and Populism(s) from the Margins, organized at the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome by dr. Maria Bonaria Urban (KNIR), dr. Monica Jansen and dr. Reindert Dhondt (Utrecht University).
While the TrUMPo project in itself is already interdisciplinary, including researchers from the fields of linguistics, communication science and political sciences, the colloquium was a great opportunity to connect with still other approaches to populism and discourses on populism, coming from the fields of history, art history, philosophy and literature. Moreover, the colloquium opened up the geographical scope to include studies focusing on Latin-America. As such, the conference put the issues of situatedness of phenomena vs. transnational flows at the heart of its discussions, which ties in neatly with the aims of TrUMPo to analyze the circulation of discourses on populism across Belgium, France and Spain.
The opening talk by Andrea Mammone already pointed out that even in academic studies the difference between populism and other phenomena, such as the far right, is not always operationalized in a correct or consistent way, showing that our methodology to study who uses the term populism with what meaning could be relevant not only for analyzing laypersons’ discourses but also for analyzing academic discourses. Another interesting point to bear in mind is Federico Finchelstein’s observation that populist movements that are not in power have so far perhaps received more analyses than populist movements in power and that, in any case, the difference between being in power or not is a relevant criterion in the analysis. This observation can be interesting also for the future political analyses in the TrUMPo project since we aim to look into who is being called a populist and why. The question whether parties in power or rather parties in the opposition are being called a populist, certainly merits further thought.