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Confronting authoritarian populism: the rural dimension

by Ian Scoones, Saturnino Borras, Lyda Fernanda Forero, Ruth Hall, Marc Eldelman, Wendy Wolford, Benjamin White in 2018
Religion, gender dynamics, place and cultural identity – all inform rising authoritarian populism in rural areas, alongside class interests and inequalities. Mobilising alternatives to capture by regressive political forces is not straightforward.
Authoritarian populism is on the rise. Whether in Brazil, Hungary, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, France, the US and many other countries. Regressive, nationalist, sometimes with religious inflections, it is a diverse, global phenomenon.
Much has been written about the rise of authoritarian populism, not least on openDemocracy. But there has been relatively scant analysis of its specific roots and impacts in rural areas.
We launched the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative to fill this gap. ERPI aims to explore how and why authoritarian populism emerges in diverse rural worlds globally, and how it can be confronted. In March, several hundred researchers and activists will meet in The Hague to discuss experiences and ways forward. Our aim is both analytical and practical: to understand and also actively to seek alternatives.


This is the first in a series of openDemocracy articles that explores these questions, based on emerging research from around the world.