2. Populism, sovereignty and affect: New political constellations
In the wake of the rise of left-wing populism in Europe, I am currently working on a comparative analysis between Podemos and the Scottish National Party. My main line of investigation concerns possible conflations between national and popular sovereignty, and the role of emotions and affect in creating political identities. The project asks where the line is drawn between the “People” and the “Nation” and how these boundaries of political subjectivity relate to universal provisions of equality, which is a basic tenet of left-wing thought. The project thus seeks to identify possible contradictions and tensions between on the one hand the creation of a specific community, and, on the other, equality for all.
I’m currently the co-convenor (with Yannis Stavrakakis and Andy Knott) of the Populism Specialist Group within the Political Studies Association. We will organise several panels on populism for the 2018 PSA Conference in Cardiff.
2. Politics in Times of Anxiety
Together with Andreja Zevnik and Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet, I’m have co-edited a volume entitled Politics of Anxiety, with Rowman and Littlefield International. This emanated form an international conference in 2014 (with Zygmunt Bauman as keynote speaker). We have also guest edited a week on Open Democracy.
3. Indignation as dissent? The affective components of protest and democracy
My PhD research analysed how the protests movements in Spain in 2011 (the Indignados) were driven by emotions and affect in addition to unified claims, and how this influences our perception of democracy.
Emotion is a topic of interest for both social movement theory as well as political philosophy and the thesis argues that there should be stronger ties between social and political theory. In order to merge the two, the thesis utilised Laclau’s theory of hegemony to further understand the connection between affect and political identities.
Laclau’s theory situates itself in between the two fields of Derridian deconstruction and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Combining these two concepts of abundance and lack, respectively, we can conceive of a theory able to understand the affective dimensions of collective identities.
The thesis is based on two types of data, social media analysis as well as ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Madrid 2013. The virtual and the real are always mutually constitutive, and we therefore need to study both in order to catch the characteristics of social phenomena.