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DemCP colloquium: ELIZAVETA GAUFMAN: "Carnival and Displaced Abjection: Racist Rhetoric in the Trump Election Campaign"

When:We 16-09-2020 16:00 - 17:00

Trump has often been compared to a carnival fool or clown, but this comparison goes further than jokes about the size of his hands or his hair. In fact, Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of topsy-turvy and politically incorrect carnival culture can explain Trump's success with the electorate beyond the more common populist framework. Among other things, carnival culture includes an element of demonization, whereby a marginalized group is degraded so as to restore the core values that mainstreamers hold. The enemy in carnival is a focus of ‘displaced abjection’, i.e., when socially ‘low’ groups focus their anger not against someone in authority, but someone who is hierarchically even lower. The carnival folk that reverses the hierarchy with the elite still preserves certain social groups on the very bottom of the social ladder who remain there through carnivalesque practices of abuse which explains the uptick of hate crimes during the Trump presidency directed primarily at black, immigrant, Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities.

Elizaveta Gaufman is assistant professor of Russian discourse and politics at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She is the author of "Security Threats and Public Perception: Digital Russia and the Ukraine Crisis" (Palgrave, 2017).

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