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We will be great again: historical victimhood in populist discourse

Al-Ghazzi, Omar ORCID: 0000-0001-9905-409X (2021) We will be great again: historical victimhood in populist discourse. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 24 (1). pp. 45-59. ISSN 1367-5494

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1367549420985851


This article explores historical victimhood as a feature of contemporary populist discourse. It is about how populist leaders invoke meta-history to make self-victimising claims as a means for consolidating power. I argue that historical victimhood propagates a forked historical consciousness – a view of history as a series of junctures where good fought evil – that enables the projection of alleged victimhood into the past and the future, while the present is portrayed as a regenerating fateful choice between humiliation and a promised golden age. I focus on the cases of the United States and Turkey and examine two key speeches delivered by presidents Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2017. My case-study approach aims to show how the same narrative form of historical victimhood, with its temporal logic and imaginary, latches on widely different contexts and political cultures with the effect of conflating the leader with the people, solidifying divisions in society, and threatening opponents.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2020 00:39
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 03:48

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