Loperfido Giacomo

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Barcelona, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-715

Approve Date

March 4, 2016

Project Title

Loperfido, Dr. Giacomo, U. of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain - To aid workshop on 'Populism in Theory: Towards an Anthropological Frame of Interpretation,' 2017, U. of Barcelona, in collaboration with Dr. Bjorn Bertelsen

This workshop aims at establishing an ‘Anthropology of Populism’ as a theoretical field in political anthropology. As a political phenomenon, Populism has mainly been studied by political scientists. This tendency seems to have established a form of analysis whose modes of inquiry are basically limited to the different actors, processes, and institutions populating the political arena. In this sense, Populism has generally been understood in terms of its internal properties (Taggart, 2000, 2003): its specific qualities (Albertazzi, McDonnel, 2008; Urbinati, 2014), its different typologies (Canovan, 1981, Wiles, 1969), or, – at best – (Canovan, 1999, Arditi, 2004, Panizza, 2005) it’s foundational relationship with ‘democracy’ as a political system. Yet, despite the abundance of literature on the matter, almost the totality of these accounts has to agree about the fact that the phenomenon is too multifaceted, too historically and geographically diverse, in other words too complex to be reduced to an abstract way of understanding it. Our position differs in kind. In our view, existing theories of populism partly miss the point inasmuch as they deploy strategies of understanding that are internal to the political systems they study. Anthropological analysis has the advantage of holding an historically ‘externalist’ approach. Institutional realities of a given society are then apprehended as parts of the reproductive logic of social, economic, and political systems, that are larger than the society in which they happen. With this workshop, we thus aim at establishing a combined approach, putting into dialogue the insights provided by political scientists, with a deeper analysis of the economic, social and cultural transformations of the larger worlds in which Populism gets constituted as a political phenomenon.