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Trump, Populism, and American Foreign Policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Early online date23 Aug 2019
Accepted/In press7 May 2019
E-pub ahead of print23 Aug 2019


King's Authors


Employing a discursive understanding of populism and combing it with insights of poststructuralist International Relations theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article examines the conceptual links between foreign policy and populist forms of identity construction as well as the ideological force that populism can unfold in the realm of foreign policy. It conceptualizes populism and foreign policy as distinct discourses that constitute collective identities by relating Self and Other. Identifying different modes of Othering, the article illustrates its arguments with a case study on the United States under Donald Trump and shows how the Trumpian discourse used foreign policy as platform for the (re)production of a populist-nationalist electoral coalition. Unlike common conceptions of populism as ideology that misrepresents reality, the article argues that the discourse develops its ideological appeal by obscuring the discursive character of social reality and promising to satisfy the subject’s illusive desire for a complete and secure identity.

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