Dr. Oscar Mazzoleni’s lecture focused on border issues in right-wing populist strategies.
December 11, 2019 | Written by Igor Vianna Sousa, MALAS Student
This semester, a group of diverse University of Florida students and faculty members attended Dr. Oscar Mazzoleni’s lecture, Right-wing Populist Parties and Border Issues. Toward a Global Perspective. The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for European Studies, and the Department of Political Science.
Dr. Oscar Mazzoleni is a professor of political science at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and is currently a visiting scholar at Columbia University, NYC. His research has been published in several peer-reviewed journals such as Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Revue française de science politique, Government and Opposition, Party Politics, Swiss Political Science Review, Comparative European Politics, Contemporary Italian Politics and Populism among others.
Dr. Carlos de la Torre, director of the Center for Latin American Studies, delivered the introductory remarks to a packed room. The lecture focused on border issues in right-wing populist strategies. According to Dr. Mazzoleni, “populism is a growing industry in political and social science. Many scholars consider that from a conceptually and theoretical point of view, almost all is done in populist studies. However, populism is a widespread, multifaceted, polymorphous, cross-national, and cross-continental phenomenon arising in current democracies and in a globalized world. Therefore, new frames of analyses might be useful and necessary."
Dr. Mazzoleni touched on the current notion of borders in the globalized world to highlight how right-wing populism relates to the notion of borders. He talked about three different and complementary perspectives on the subject. The border as a logic, an issue, and an opportunity. “Populism is a border making discourse,” he said.
He touched on various examples across the globe, from President Donald Trump and the border wall with Mexico; to President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and the sovereignty discourse over the Amazon; to the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom which claimed a need to take back control of their borders against immigrants; to East Europe and the border conflict with Hungary and Siberia. Dr. Mazzoleni analyzed the discourses behind these examples.
“The notion of borders is crucial for understanding contemporary populism as a multi-faceted phenomenon,” he said. “This linkage can be interpreted in different ways; border making can be seen as an intrinsic logic of populism, a border can embody specific issue; borders shaped by global trends might create political opportunities for successful populist actors.”