Populism, hindu nationalism, and foreign policy in india: The politics of representing "the people"

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37 Citations (Scopus)


There is today a growing sense of a global rise of populism. Right-wing populist leaders and parties claim to represent the people and pit them against a "corrupt"elite and "dangerous"Others. However, the international dimensions of populism remain largely unexplored in the populism and international relations (IR) literature. By analyzing the relationship between foreign policy and populism, this article seeks to show how the phenomenon of populism can be integrated into IR theory and how IR scholarship can inform debates on populism. The article argues that poststructuralist IR, with its focus on foreign policy as a boundary-drawing practice that demarcates the Self from the Other, allows us to study how populist actors can use foreign policy as a site for the reproduction of their claim to represent the people. To grasp this, the article identifies different discursive strategies through which the people/elite antagonism can be constructed and interacts with other antagonisms such as the inside/ outside divide of nationalism. It illustrates its arguments with a case study on India's foreign policy discourse under the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, who has promised to purify India from a corrupt elite and pursue an "India first"policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-422
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) (2019).


  • Foreign policy
  • Identity
  • India
  • International relations theory
  • Populism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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