Prof. Dr. Julia Roth

"Right-Wing Populism and Gender (Not Only) in the USA"

Zeit: 09.06.2021, 18-20 Uhr

In current struggles over cultural hegemony, right-wing populist discourse is marked by an omni-presence of topics related to gender and sexuality. With particular focus on actors in the USA and the Americas, the talk thus discusses the ways in which diverse actors of what will be called the ‘right-wing populist complex’ use gender in order to catapult a variety of arguments into the public sphere. Suggesting a first set of Right-Wing Populist Patterns of Gendering, the talk pursues the question how seemingly emancipatory arguments function in right-wing populist discourse, especially in performing a modernization paradigm, while simultaneously, and in often paradoxical ways, promoting a program of re-traditionalization. Therefore, often, gender arguments – like the sexual freedom of  “autochtonous” women – are used to justify anti-immigration and racist politics, most famously Donald Trump with his claim to keep the “Mexican rapists” out of the US through his wall. One’s own society can thus be depicted as “already fully emancipated” in contrast to the alleged “backward” social order of (immigrant) Others. Through this ethnosexist twist, the talk argues that gender provides right-wing populist discourse a useful tool for affectively bridging seemingly paradoxical arguments around belonging, access to resources and welfare, anti-immigration and demography, and transferring them onto the gender hierarchy. Simultaneously, following the populist logic of polarization, feminists, gender scholars and LGBTQI activists are turned into “internal enemies” who allegedly provide a threat to children and the heteronormative family. Since they presumably keep the “right” women from reproducing, feminists and “gender ideology” are furthermore made responsible for endangering the (reproduction and homogeneity of) the nation and thus turn into an existential threat. 

Julia Roth is Professor of American Studies with a focus on Gender Studies and Inter-American Studies at Bielefeld University, Germany. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the research project "The Americas as Space of Entanglements" in Bielefeld and in the interdisciplinary network "desiguALdades.net - Interdependent Inequalities in Latin America" at Freie Universität Berlin, as well as a lecturer at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Universität Potsdam, and Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico. Her research focuses on postcolonial, decolonial and gender approaches, intersectionality and global inequalities, anti-racist feminist knowledge from the Caribbean and the Americas, gender and citizenship, and right-wing populism and gender. In addition to her academic work, she organizes and curates cultural and political events (e.g., the theater festival “Women/Images of the Americas on the Move" in Berlin 2010; 2014 and 2016 BE.BOP - Black Europe Body Politics with Alanna Lockward, "De-Heimatize Belonging" at the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin).