Spring 2022

Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-407  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-400


Amrita Basu (Section 01)


(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: an emphasis on written work, readings, group work, visual analysis, aural analysis, oral presentations, and independent research. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to SWAGS and Political Science majors.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024