Trump, Populism, and American Foreign Policy

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Employing a discursive understanding of populism and combing it with insights of poststructuralist international relations theory and Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article examines the conceptual links between foreign policy and populist forms of identity construction, as well as the ideological force that populism can unfold in the realm of foreign policy. It conceptualizes populism and foreign policy as distinct discourses that constitute collective identities by relating Self and Other. Identifying different modes of Othering, the article illustrates its arguments with a case study on the United States under Donald Trump and shows how the Trumpian discourse has used foreign policy as a platform for the (re)production of a populist-nationalist electoral coalition. Unlike common conceptions of populism as an ideology that misrepresents reality, the article argues that the discourse develops its ideological appeal by obscuring the discursive construction of social reality and thereby promising to satisfy the subject's desire for a complete and secure identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-311
Number of pages20
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


ECF-2018–656 from the Lever-hulme Trust.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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