Book Review : The Palgrave Handbook of Populism
Chetan Rana — PhD Student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
One of the latest volumes on Populism, The Palgrave Handbook of Populism (2022) edited by Michael Oswald, is a comprehensive work that compiles 40 chapters integrating several themes related to the phenomenon. Michael Oswald is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Passau and a lecturer at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Free University of Berlin.
The book engages with key theoretical debates on populism and its consequences for liberal democracies, the economy, rights and equality. A section of the book also delves into populist discourse and rhetoric and its intersection with post-truth and collective memory. However, the distinguishing trait is the book’s focus on relatively overlooked or emerging discussions like ‘populism and gender’, ‘political psychology of populism’, ‘medical populism’, ‘environmental populism’ and ‘anti-populist discourse’. The volume also succeeds in bringing out diverse regional narratives through chapters on the US, Europe, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
The fast diminishing lines between populism, authoritarianism, and fascism have also been addressed. Through the chapters in the final section, ‘Consequences of Populism & Anti-Populist Discourse’, the contributors seek to unpack critical issues of ‘democratic dilemma’ and ‘polarization’ in modern democracies and the possible counterstrategies against populism.
The Palgrave Handbook of Populism is a great work for young scholars to navigate the vast and complex landscape of populism scholarship. The inclusion of relatively under-discussed themes like gender and political psychology will also help academics to push the boundaries of traditional debates and venture afresh. This handbook has the potential to become an essential reading for scholars of populism.
Michael Oswald (ed.) (2022), The Palgrave Handbook of Populism (doi: 10.1007/978–3–030–80803–7)