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What does populism look like beyond the nation-state? This article introduces the concept of transnational populism as a way of understanding how populists construct “the people” above the national level, thus disentangling the oft-conflated concepts of populism and nationalism. It defines transnational populism, distinguishes it from international cooperation between populists and provides illustrative examples from across the globe to demonstrate what it looks like in practice. The article also addresses why transnational populism is so rare, arguing that “the people” of transnational populism is far more difficult to construct than nationally bounded conceptions of “the people”. To flesh out this claim, the article draws Ernesto Laclau’s work on populism together with the work of those authors associated with the “constructivist turn” in political representation, exploring the role of both audiences and constituencies in answering representative claims made on behalf of the transnational “people”. Finally, the article turns to the role of media—both old and new—in broadcasting and (more problematically) answering transnational populist claims.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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