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The emotional dimension of the rise of the populist extreme right in Europe

Cristiano Gianolla
Júlia Garraio
Manuel João Cruz

20 de july de 2022, 14h00
Sala 1, CES | Alta

Moderator: Sérgio Barbosa (CES)


The rise of populism in Europe is characterized by an intense recourse to emotions. Although this is recognized as a self-evident fact, political leaders and in the media too often – and banally – identify it as a mere disqualified way of doing politics. However, the resistance and proliferation of populist phenomena in different countries urges to go deeper in analyzing the roots of this entanglement. The scholarship is increasingly dealing with the complexity that relates populism and emotions and progressively attempts to disentangle this relationship from moral judgements in order to be able to proper assess the political relevance and effectiveness of emotions in politics even when associated with extremist ideas. In order to contribute to this effort, the roundtable engages with a theoretical framework that relates emotions elicited by populist parties and politicians in relation to the sociopolitical processes of identification substantiated with the discursive creation of political, social and cultural opponents. Through the analysis of case studies, the round table will relate with a number of challenges and evidences emerging in Germany, Portugal and Italy.

This event belongs to project UNpacking POPulism: Comparing the formation of emotion narratives and their effects on political behaviour, which aims to explore how narratives of emotion allow a deeper analysis of how populist phenomena constitute and influence political behaviour.

Thus, the cycle of events developed throughout the project will address various issues involving the recent growth of populism, focusing on the role of emotions - both those seen as negative such as anger and fear, and those seen as positive such as hope and love - in political behaviour.
Coordinated by Cristiano Gianolla e Lisete Mónico and institutionally hosted by the Centre for Social Studies and CINEICC - Research Centre in Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioural Intervention - of the University of Coimbra, the UNPOP project is funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P. (PTDC/CPO-CPO/3850/2020).

This is an open to the public event and part of the Summer School ‘Endangered Theories: Standing by Critical Race Theory in the Age of Ultra-Violence‘. It is sponsered by the Summer School’s partners UNpacking POPulism: Comparing the Formation of Emotion Narratives and Their Effects on Political Behaviour (UNPOP; PTDC/CPO-CPO/3850/2020); Inter-Thematic Group on Migration (ITM); Doctoral Programme ‘Democracy in the Twenty-first Century’ (CES-UC); Holocausto em português: um repositório dinâmico de recursos educativos (FACC 21/7/9); and Il Razzismo é Una Brutta Storia.

Bio Notes:

Cristiano Gianolla is a researcher at the Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra (UC), where he integrates research thematic line on Democracy, Justice and Human Rights. Cristiano is the Principal Investigator of the UNPOP project (FCT, 2021-2024) and was a team member of the FRANET (FRA, 2021-2022). ECHOES (H2020, 2018-2021), ALICE (ERC, 2011-2016) EU projects. He is a co-founding and co-coordinating member of the “Inter-Thematic group on Migrations” and co-coordinates the research programme “Epistemologies of the South” at CES. He is coordinating editor of Alice News, editor of e-cadernos scientific journal and Rights! blog and a reviewer for other scientific journals. Cristiano co-coordinates the PhD course “Democratic Theories and Institutions” and the MA course “Critical Intercultural Dialogue” at the Faculty of Economics of the UC, where he also teaches on the PhD course “State, Democracy and Legal Pluralism”. His research interests are: democratic theory, populism, post-colonialism, intercultural dialogue, heritage processes, movement-parties, citizenship, human rights, migrations and cosmopolitanism. Currently he focuses on emotions and narratives in democratic processes.

Júlia Garraio is researcher at the Centre for Social Studies/University of Coimbra, where she integrates the research line Democracy, Justice and Human Rights, is co-coordinator of WG-POLICREDOS (Religion, Gender and Society), is co-coordinator of the Observatory of Masculinities and integrates the WG-GPS (Research on Sexualities). She is member and co-founder of the International Research Group Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) ( She integrates the International Editorial Board of the European Journal of Women’s Studies. Her current research interests include sexual violence, masculinities, feminisms, nationalism, migrations, memory, literature and media. She has participated in six national and international research projects in the areas of Gender Studies, Memory Studies, Cultural Studies and Literature. Her main focus of research is narratives and the politics of representing sexual violence in literature and the media, namely in the following contexts: the rape of German women and girls in WWII, Portuguese colonialism and its legacies, the Angolan wars, the 2011 war in Libya, and contemporary migrations.

Manuel João Cruz
 is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Communication Sciences at the Faculty of Arts, University of Coimbra. He is currently studying political narratives and the populist narrative of Chega. He works in the area of Social Sciences with an emphasis on Communication Sciences and Political Science. He is the author of several articles on Disinformation and Fake News, as well as a book chapter on education in Higher Education. He is a researcher at the Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra (UC), where he’s part of the thematic line on Democracy, Justice and Human Rights.At CES he’s part of the project “UNPOP: Dismantling Populism: Comparing the formation of narratives of emotion and their effects on political behavior. He is also a member of the Organizing Committee of the Jornadas de Comunicação 2022 of the Faculty of Arts, University of Coimbra. Main research interests are: Media, Populism, Democracy.

Sérgio Barbosa
 is a PhD candidate in the program “Democracy in the Twenty-First Century” linked to the Centre for Social Studies (CES) at the University of Coimbra. From August 2020, he was awarded with a FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) Research Fellowship, grant reference: SFRH/BD/143495/2019. Prior to joining FCT cohort of fellows, Sérgio was a SYLFF (Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund) fellow sponsored by Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research. Currently, he is a visiting researcher at CAIS (Center for Advanced Internet Studies), Bochum, Germany. Previously, Barbosa was a visiting researcher at University of Glasgow (2022), Utrecht University (2021) and University of Amsterdam (2019-2020). He is a member of the COST Action CA17135 ‘Constitution-Making and Deliberative Democracy’. His research interests include the emerging forms of political participation vis-à-vis the possibilities afforded by chat apps, with emphasis on WhatsApp for digital activism and social interaction, focusing on WhatsAppers, Digital Sociology, Digital Activism, and Data Ethics. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Political Studies Review, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, and First Monday, among others.