Jean-Thomas MARTELLI presenting an online series Seminar entitled “Populism as Mimetic Representation in Narendra Modi’s Speeches”

Jean-Thomas MARTELLI, Head researcher presenting a seminar on: Populism as Mimetic Representation in Narendra Modi’s Speeches, in an Online Seminar Series on Political Representation organizing by 𝙍𝙚:𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 on 26 October 2021 on Tuesday at 16:00 CEST.

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Abstract: Minimal understandings of populism focus on measuring explicit stances of anti-elitism. This essay suggests that the study of populism also requires taking in account implicit anti-elitism. Expressed through performances of ‘layman-likeness’, it enables populist politicians to dissociate from traditional ruling elites while enabling people-leaders’ identifications. Using a novel 123-million word dataset of Indian political discourses—including the speeches of eleven Prime Ministers—to proxy such identifications, we argue that populist leaders rely on a mimesis of the putative people as a metaphor of the majority. Three core mimetic speech-items are quantified: intimacy, disintermediation and simplicity. We use a replicable corpus-contextual multi-word collocation technique to populate lexicons of pre-tested psychometric profiles as well as a four-fold validation method. The analysis finds that current PM Narendra Modi communicates mimetic identification around his ubiquitous persona, indexing his stylistic, ideological and institutional populist politics.

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