Drawing on an interdisciplinary methodology and bringing together approaches from the political sciences, art history, iconography, gender studies and linguistics, Miguel Rivas Venegas’s research project at EXC 2020 is dedicated to the investigation of nationalist rhetoric and language use – metaphor, resignifications, political neologisms – in two specific political and geographical communities: Spain and its “peripheral nationalisms” of Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country; and Germany and the palpable growth of the so-called Identitäre Bewegungen. With its emphasis on competing communities as they evolve in tension with structures of power, and on their inherent logic of conflictive action, this comparative study of the rhetoric and “special language” deployed by the multifaceted political movements/communities in question will provide further insight into the phenomenon of national populism, which is here understood as a political symptom whose current acceleration transcends ideologies and political programmes. The development of “special languages” that is taking place at the core of contemporary nationalist movements plays a crucial role in the construction of promises of national resurrection and the constitution of holistic communities. Indeed, nationalist movements are reliant on the spectacle of vibrant words and rhetoric to a high degree: language creates and shapes nationalist imagined communities; it defines social or political enemies in a racialist manner, invites the construction of a national self,and gives form to restrictive gender roles. Accordingly, the specific Sprachverwendung of these nationalist movements, their key concepts, “purr words” and “snarl words” – i.e. words with pejorative, unpleasant or disparaging connotations – and the translation of lexical arsenals between a variety of ideological and political contexts will be at the centre of the investigation.
Miguel Rivas Venegas received his doctorate in art history from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2018. He conducted his doctoral research as an invited PhD researcher at Humboldt Universität Berlin in conjunction with a project funded by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. His work focuses on the comparative analysis of visual communication and language use in transnational fascism (1931–45) and contemporary national populism.