De-democratisation through humour: the memetic violence of the Latin American far right

Project Summary

This project is hosted by: Institute of Languages Cultures and Societies

Research interests:
North America, North America, South America, South America
Project period:
01-Dec-2023 - 30-Nov-2025
Project categories:
Fellowship grant
Project summary:

Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farade. These are some of the most renowned and widely studied “right-wing populist” leaders of the Global North. Studies of their equivalents in the Global South are far less abundant and exhaustive. Nor are these studies placed in dialogue with scholarship on European right-wing populisms. This project will aim to cover this gap by asking questions that seek to understand the global rise in authoritarian expressions: What is the role of humour in the social media communication of these leaders? What role do memes and simplified speeches play?

Over the past decades, scholarship on right-wing populism has focused on the sociological elements that help to understand the phenomenon. However, studies on the relationship between the rise of right-wing populisms and the communicative codes, such as humour, that might have enabled their popularity have been hardly examined. My previous research indicates the relevance of metaphorical thinking in the construction of political polarisation. People think through metaphors that organise their ideas, including political ones.

This project seeks to understand the contemporary success of right-wing populisms in electoral campaigns in Latin America through the analysis of the recent radicalisation and polarisation of their memetic discursive practices. Specifically, I will explore what deep values are mobilised at this particular historical moment and how communication through memes contributes to that mobilisation.

Management Details

Lead researcher & project contact:

Name Position Institute Organisation Contact
Dr Gabriel Bayarri Toscano Newton International Fellow (CLACS) Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies School of Advanced Study, University of London



Funder Grant type Award
The British Academy Newton International Fellowship £118,911.00