Democracies around the world are on fire with anger at the moment. Moreover, in many places, a deep sense of entitlement underpins this angry lashing out, which has been directed not just (or in many cases not even primarily) at politicians or political parties but at categories of people deemed to be threats — unentitled, undeserving, and fundamentally ‘other’ — whether specific groups of fellow citizens, immigrants/refugees, or even longtime allies.
This is patently evident in the vitriolic populism of Trump’s America and support for Brexit in the UK, both of which have clear geographies and demonstrate a reliance on simplistic narratives of right/wrong, us/them, that are well-documented (Hochschild 2016; Bhambra 2017; McQuarrie 2017). These map onto populations who nostalgically sense they have lost what was rightfully, morally, genealogically theirs; in many cases, the resultant politics presume such ostensible greatness can be regained in equally simplistic manner by applying that angry sense of entitlement to an authoritative (indeed often authoritarian) exercise of government. Yet populist rage paired with populist simplicity is reshaping more than Anglo-American politics. Elements of this scenario are readily visible in Brazil especially, but also in Argentina, South Africa, Turkey, India, the Philippines, and numerous other cases in different configurations. As we chart geographies of entitled anger, these must also map the self-righteous hatred that is redefining the political landscapes of these places in the Global South as well. Populism in general, of course, is not new, but this kind of revanchist populism– attempting to take back, wresting space both material and symbolic, from the supposedly undeserving – bears novel features.
We assemble this session with a sense of urgency. Brazil has just seen the rapid, indomitable rise to the top of national politics of a white male evangelist with a military background who openly encourages violence and just as openly denounces women, LGBT people, and all manner of state endeavours to alleviate inequality — in a country historically marked by profound, multidimensional inequalities that have only lessened during the last generation of active pro-equality reforms. In Brazil and beyond, we seek to understand not only the geographically distributed nature of support for this kind of populist leadership, but also the spaces of encounter or confrontation, exposure or isolation, and alliance or avoidance that make entitled anger such a definitive feature of our times.
Neil Smith (1996) popularised the notion of revanchism in urban geography as related to gentrification, and postulated its global diffusion (Smith 2001; Smith 2002). Whereas Smith was largely concerned with how capital mobilised punitive discourses and measures to ‘take back’ parts of the city, we embrace a broader view about how the shaping of space and the shaping of populism may be intimately related. Whilst looking for commonalities across cases, we also heed cautions about imputing generality and thus remain open to understanding formative relational connections among cases with apparent likenesses (see Hart 2018) – alive to the fact that populist discourses, imaginaries, and interests in one part of the world may well affect developments in another. With such a broad vision in mind, our aim is to map this revanchist populism in Brazil and beyond.
Our session is open to detailed case studies as well as larger comparisons; we welcome empirically driven fieldwork and careful, focused theoretical interventions alike. Possible topics — among others — include:
*the role of middle classes in the ascent of populism
*the spatial patterns (urban vs rural, north vs south, etc.) of support/opposition
*place-based differences in populist rage & simplicity
*essentialism & locality in the cultivation of entitled anger
*new vs old populisms in relation to changing social norms or pro-equality measures
*the influence of colonial/imperial legacies in shaping the support for populist and/or authoritarian governments
*the politics of affect or how emotions (anger, hope, hate etc.) are mobilised as sources of dominance/resistance
*spatial techniques and spatial objects of revanchist populism
*relations between sites in surges of populist narratives, imagery, practices, and/or logics
Bhambra, Gurminder. 2017. “Brexit, Trump, and ‘methodological whiteness’: on the misrecognition of race and class.” British Journal of Sociology 68(S1): S214-S232.
Hart, Gillian. 2018. “Relational comparison revisited: Marxist postcolonial geographies in practice.” Progress in Human Geography 42(3): 371-394.
Hochschild, Arlie. 2016. Strangers in the Own Land: Anger & Mourning on the American Right. New York City: New Press.
McQuarrie, Michael. 2017. “The revolt of the Rust Belt: Place and politics in the age of anger.” British Journal of Sociology 68(S1): S120-S152.
Smith, Neil. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification & the Revanchist City. London: Routledge.
Smith, Neil. 2001. “Global Social Cleansing: Postliberal Revanchism and the Export of Zero Tolerance.” Social Justice 28(3): 68-74.
Smith, Neil. 2002. “New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy.” Antipode 34(3): 427-450.
|Presenter||David Nemer*, University of Kentucky, Uncovering Hidden Spaces of Populism in Brazil: The Case of Bolsonaro Supporters in WhatsApp Groups||20||9:55 AM|
|Presenter||Mara Nogueira*, London School of Economics, The limits of Brazilian participatory democracy: middle-class dwellers and informal street vendors in Belo Horizonte||20||10:15 AM|
|Presenter||Luiz Vilaça*, , From human rights to corruption fighting: Agenda-shifting in the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office||20||10:35 AM|
|Presenter||Daniel Robins*, University of St Andrews, Contested Nationalisms: (im)mobility and belonging in times of crisis||20||10:55 AM|
|Discussant||Ryan Centner London School of Economics||20||11:15 AM|
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