Popular Biopolitics and Populism at Europe’s Eastern Margins


In this groundbreaking book, Andrey Makarychev approaches populism through a critical biopolitical lens and shows that populist narratives are grounded intrinsically in corporeality, sexuality, health, bodily life and religious practices. The author demonstrates that populism is a phenomenon deeply rooted in mass culture. He compares three countries -- Estonia, Ukraine and Russia--that all share post-Soviet experiences offering a broad spectrum of populist discourses. The three case studies display the interconnection between biopower and populism through references to culture, media, art, theatrical performances and literature, raising new questions and directions for understanding traditional accounts of populism.

This work was supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 822682: "Populist rebellion against modernity in 21st-century Eastern Europe: neo-traditionalism and neo-feudalism – POPREBEL".

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Andrey Makarychev, Ph.D. (1999, Nizhny Novgorod State University, Russia), is Professor of Regional Political Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. He has published monographs and articles on populism and biopolitics, including Critical Biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: From Populations to Nations (Lexington Books, 2020, co-authored with Alexandra Yatsyk).
"This book invites us to look at popular culture as a major repertoire of biopolitical metaphors that can then be instrumentalized by populist leaders. With this innovative, bottom-up approach, Andrey Makarychev offers us a fascinating dive into Eastern European culture and politics. A must-read to re-think how sovereignty and governmentality are experienced at a more grassroots level."
-- Marlene Laruelle, Director, Illiberalism Studies Program, The George Washington University

"Theoretically nuanced and empirically rich, this original and thought-provoking new book by Andrey Makarychev prompts us to rethink right-wing populism from the perspective of biopolitics. By analysing how and why populists protect and enhance the lives of some citizens while marginalising and threatening others, he skilfully demon-strates the close interrelationship between biopolitical dynamics and populism in Estonia, Ukraine and Russia. Challenging standard approaches to the study of populism which take the populist political actor as the starting point of their analyses, Makarychev highlights the importance of popular culture as a key generator of populist meanings, showing how these meanings are then converted into political claims by populist power contenders and holders. This original approach looks set to make an important contribution to our understanding of the mechan-ics of populism in the post-Soviet world and beyond."

-- Prof. Richard C. M. Mole, Professor of Political Sociology, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

"Popular Biopolitics is an original, well-researched, theoretically laden, and very engaging work shedding light on Estonian, Ukrainian, and Russian versions of popular biopolitics as they existed before the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. [...] the escalation of Russian aggression in Ukraine and associated changes in regional biopolitics in no way diminish the relevance of the book but, on the contrary, add extra depth and historical value to it."
-- Kostiantyn Yanchenko, University of Hamburg, in: H-Net Reviews (July 2022).

Introduction: Biopolitics in Search for a Hegemony
1 Popular Biopolitics: A Theoretical Outline
 1.1  Biopolitics: A Short Introduction
 1.2  Performativity and Popular Biopolitics
 1.3  Popular Biopolitics and/of Populism
 1.4  Liberalism and Its Disavowal: A Biopolitical Reading
 1.5  Bare Lives between Biopolitics and Ideology
 1.6  The Regional Focus of the Book
 1.7  Methodological Note
2 Estonia: Bare Life between Geo- and Biopolitics
 2.1  The Popular Biopolitics of Bare Life: Two Dominant Discourses
 2.2  Biopolitical Dislocations
 2.3  Contemporary Reverberations: The Reactualization of the Biopolitical Contexts
3 The Screen and the Street: Two Face(t)s of Ukrainian Popular Biopolitics
 3.1  From Comedian to President: A Cultural Genealogy of the New(est) Ukrainian Populism
 3.2  The Geo-/Biopolitical Construction of Sovereignty in Insecure Times
4 Pastorate and “Somatic Sovereignty” in Russian Popular Biopolitics
 4.1  Night Wolves’ Performative Imperialism
 4.2  Iben Thranholm’s Biopolitical Interfaces
 4.3  The Popular Biopolitics of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Russian Hegemonic Populism
 4.4  Russian Illiberal Populism: An Afterword
Populations, Popular Biopolitics, Populism: Concluding Thoughts
This book would be of immediate interest to university scholars, specialists in political studies, students in- political science and international relations, and policy practitioners.
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