Taking its cue from the crucial role of language in populist communication, this special section of Iperstoriaon “Populism and Its Languages” aims at exploring the various discursive dimensions of populist leaders and parties, mostlytaking place in the digital environment. This special section opens with a paper by Massimiliano Demata, Michelangelo Conoscenti,and Yannis Stavrakakis on the construction of the concepts of populism and anti-populism and their metaphorical realisations in the British press in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendumand Trump’s victory, a crucial moment not only for British politics but also for the EU and populist discourseworldwide. Adopting both the methodology offered by Corpus Linguistics and the Corpus Approach to Critical Metaphor Analysis, the authors emphasise the critical role that metaphors play in orienting the public perception of populism based on shared modes of understanding social and political life. Following onfromBrexit-related discourse, in the second paper,Michael Boyd proposes a fine-grained critical analytical study of an article in a British mid-market newspaper with a pro-Brexit stance, highlighting the discursive and multimodal strategies employed to negatively represent both the Remain-supporters and the judiciary, while stressing the positive presentation of Leavers and the newspaper role as the ‘voice of the people.’ Maria Ivana Lorenzetti’s study compares right-wing populist discourses on migration in the national contexts of the USA and Italy,unveiling how the joint contribution of language and other semiotic modes is strategically exploited on social media by prominent right-wing populist leaders, such as Donald Trump and Italian Leagueleader Matteo Salvini inthe othering and exclusion of ethnic minorities. The study, adopting a critical multimodal analytical perspective, reveals that the two leaders employ comparable strategies. Web 2.0 affordances are crucial for both Trump and Salvini to enact the rhetorical exclusion of minorities while constructing their role as leaders and “build their people.” The social media domain is also the focus of the next contribution,in whichMarianna Lya Zummo investigates how politicians employ social media Demata andLorenzettiIntroduction to “Populism and its Languages”Saggi/Essays5Issue 15–Spring/Summer 2020Iperstoriaplatforms to enhance authenticity and boost their connection with ‘the people.’ Within the framework of Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (KhosraviNik 2017), and adopting tools from multimodal discourse analysis, Zummo highlights how politicians of different orientation, i.e. American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Italian right-wing leader Salvini, exploit social media affordances, and in particularlive-streamed videos, creating a new politainment genre for the strategicperformance of their authenticity.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also the focus of the next two contributions. Applying a methodological framework that combines the resources of qualitative approaches, such as transitivity, appraisal and multimodal critical discourse analysis, Margaret Rasulo explores the identity-populism nexus in a corpus of AOC’s tweets containing verbal and non-verbal instantiations of self-representational strategies. Based on the analysis, the communication style adopted by the politician emerges as the result of a blend of identities and life experiences, correspondingly sharpened by the presence of populist behaviour. Such a nexus allows AOC to intensify her self-presentation and build her political persona. By exploring the mechanisms that govern the presentation, interpretation, and framing of the antagonistic opponent viathe analysis of delegitimisation strategies, recontextualising principles, and (re)framingprocesses, Jacqueline Aiello’s study analyses the coverage of AOC by a political commentator with a right-wing populist ideological orientation. Her findings suggest that the delegitimisation of the antagonist occurs primarily by recontextualisation, whereby the antagonist’s viewpoints are systematically concealed, ridiculed, or the target of personal attacks, underscoring covert and overt sexism and racism.Racism and its subtle connection with right-wing populism are evident in the next paper by Philip Limerick. Focusing on the case of the Central Park Five, a criminal case involving the wrongful conviction of four African-Americans and one Latino, the paper investigates the covert and overt racist discourse by Trump. Applying a critical discourse analytical perspective to acorpus of diversified sources, the author unveils Trump’s discursive construction of African-Americans as ‘the others’ through fearmongering, delegitimisation, and evasion, emblematic in his ‘law and order’ ideology, also shedding light on resistance discourse by the Central Park Five members.Antipodean populism is investigated in the next two papers. Combining a corpus linguistics perspective with critical stylistic analysis, Arianna Grasso investigates narratives constructed around the refugee crisis articulated on Twitter by selected right-populist leaders in Queensland State. The analysis unveils a predominantly Islamophobic ideology through the frequent association of asylum seekers with Islamic terrorism. In the last contribution to this special Demata andLorenzettiIntroduction to “Populism and its Languages”Saggi/Essays6Issue 15–Spring/Summer 2020Iperstoriasection, Antonella Napolitano analyses the discursive strategies employed by Pauline Hanson, the founder ofAustralian One Nation Party, and leading right-wing exponent of Antipodean populism. Critical discourse analysis applied to a corpusof the leader’s most controversial speeches within the time span of twentyyears uncovers the unfolding of the right-populist prototypical division between ‘the pure people’ and the ‘outsiders,’ here primarily represented by the Australian Aboriginals butalso by Asian and Islamic communities at large. ‘The corrupt elite,’ as in many right-wing populist discourses promoting a nativist ideology (Wodak 2015), is accused of conspiring with ‘the dangerous others’ damaging ‘the legitimate people.’The papers published in this special section on “Populism and Its languages” cover an impressive range of approaches to a variety of populist actors, both left-wing and right-wing, and in different national contexts. All contributions show, each in its own way, the importance of populist language and its emphasis on authenticity and emotions. The papers have revealed that a full understanding of populism can only be possible through close scrutiny of its discursive realisations and the different modes (verbal, visual, etc.) in which it is codified.

Special Section of Iperstoria "Populism and Its Languages"

Maria Ivana Lorenzetti
2020

Abstract

Taking its cue from the crucial role of language in populist communication, this special section of Iperstoriaon “Populism and Its Languages” aims at exploring the various discursive dimensions of populist leaders and parties, mostlytaking place in the digital environment. This special section opens with a paper by Massimiliano Demata, Michelangelo Conoscenti,and Yannis Stavrakakis on the construction of the concepts of populism and anti-populism and their metaphorical realisations in the British press in 2016, the year of the Brexit referendumand Trump’s victory, a crucial moment not only for British politics but also for the EU and populist discourseworldwide. Adopting both the methodology offered by Corpus Linguistics and the Corpus Approach to Critical Metaphor Analysis, the authors emphasise the critical role that metaphors play in orienting the public perception of populism based on shared modes of understanding social and political life. Following onfromBrexit-related discourse, in the second paper,Michael Boyd proposes a fine-grained critical analytical study of an article in a British mid-market newspaper with a pro-Brexit stance, highlighting the discursive and multimodal strategies employed to negatively represent both the Remain-supporters and the judiciary, while stressing the positive presentation of Leavers and the newspaper role as the ‘voice of the people.’ Maria Ivana Lorenzetti’s study compares right-wing populist discourses on migration in the national contexts of the USA and Italy,unveiling how the joint contribution of language and other semiotic modes is strategically exploited on social media by prominent right-wing populist leaders, such as Donald Trump and Italian Leagueleader Matteo Salvini inthe othering and exclusion of ethnic minorities. The study, adopting a critical multimodal analytical perspective, reveals that the two leaders employ comparable strategies. Web 2.0 affordances are crucial for both Trump and Salvini to enact the rhetorical exclusion of minorities while constructing their role as leaders and “build their people.” The social media domain is also the focus of the next contribution,in whichMarianna Lya Zummo investigates how politicians employ social media Demata andLorenzettiIntroduction to “Populism and its Languages”Saggi/Essays5Issue 15–Spring/Summer 2020Iperstoriaplatforms to enhance authenticity and boost their connection with ‘the people.’ Within the framework of Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (KhosraviNik 2017), and adopting tools from multimodal discourse analysis, Zummo highlights how politicians of different orientation, i.e. American Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Italian right-wing leader Salvini, exploit social media affordances, and in particularlive-streamed videos, creating a new politainment genre for the strategicperformance of their authenticity.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also the focus of the next two contributions. Applying a methodological framework that combines the resources of qualitative approaches, such as transitivity, appraisal and multimodal critical discourse analysis, Margaret Rasulo explores the identity-populism nexus in a corpus of AOC’s tweets containing verbal and non-verbal instantiations of self-representational strategies. Based on the analysis, the communication style adopted by the politician emerges as the result of a blend of identities and life experiences, correspondingly sharpened by the presence of populist behaviour. Such a nexus allows AOC to intensify her self-presentation and build her political persona. By exploring the mechanisms that govern the presentation, interpretation, and framing of the antagonistic opponent viathe analysis of delegitimisation strategies, recontextualising principles, and (re)framingprocesses, Jacqueline Aiello’s study analyses the coverage of AOC by a political commentator with a right-wing populist ideological orientation. Her findings suggest that the delegitimisation of the antagonist occurs primarily by recontextualisation, whereby the antagonist’s viewpoints are systematically concealed, ridiculed, or the target of personal attacks, underscoring covert and overt sexism and racism.Racism and its subtle connection with right-wing populism are evident in the next paper by Philip Limerick. Focusing on the case of the Central Park Five, a criminal case involving the wrongful conviction of four African-Americans and one Latino, the paper investigates the covert and overt racist discourse by Trump. Applying a critical discourse analytical perspective to acorpus of diversified sources, the author unveils Trump’s discursive construction of African-Americans as ‘the others’ through fearmongering, delegitimisation, and evasion, emblematic in his ‘law and order’ ideology, also shedding light on resistance discourse by the Central Park Five members.Antipodean populism is investigated in the next two papers. Combining a corpus linguistics perspective with critical stylistic analysis, Arianna Grasso investigates narratives constructed around the refugee crisis articulated on Twitter by selected right-populist leaders in Queensland State. The analysis unveils a predominantly Islamophobic ideology through the frequent association of asylum seekers with Islamic terrorism. In the last contribution to this special Demata andLorenzettiIntroduction to “Populism and its Languages”Saggi/Essays6Issue 15–Spring/Summer 2020Iperstoriasection, Antonella Napolitano analyses the discursive strategies employed by Pauline Hanson, the founder ofAustralian One Nation Party, and leading right-wing exponent of Antipodean populism. Critical discourse analysis applied to a corpusof the leader’s most controversial speeches within the time span of twentyyears uncovers the unfolding of the right-populist prototypical division between ‘the pure people’ and the ‘outsiders,’ here primarily represented by the Australian Aboriginals butalso by Asian and Islamic communities at large. ‘The corrupt elite,’ as in many right-wing populist discourses promoting a nativist ideology (Wodak 2015), is accused of conspiring with ‘the dangerous others’ damaging ‘the legitimate people.’The papers published in this special section on “Populism and Its languages” cover an impressive range of approaches to a variety of populist actors, both left-wing and right-wing, and in different national contexts. All contributions show, each in its own way, the importance of populist language and its emphasis on authenticity and emotions. The papers have revealed that a full understanding of populism can only be possible through close scrutiny of its discursive realisations and the different modes (verbal, visual, etc.) in which it is codified.
populism; populism research; critical discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; metaphor; immigration; racist discourse; left-wing populism; right-wing populism
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