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Pandemics as Crisis Performance: How Populists Tried to Take Ownership of the Covid-19 Pandemic


With the Covid-19 pandemic dominating the agenda, it seems almost
natural that it be associated with another buzzword: populism. As the
pandemic advances, it seems that the prediction of populism surviving the
pandemic due to its own diversity has been proved right, given the
variation in responses by populists around the world. One common
denominator stands out though: populists across the political spectrum
understood the benefits of performing the Covid-19 crisis as a tool to
strengthen their political positions. They tried to politicize the pandemic to
increase the antagonism between the people and the elites. In this article, I
introduce the notion of crisis as both a construct and a performance, and as
a useful concept to analyze populist reactions to the pandemic. I argue that
notwithstanding the attempts to politicize the pandemic, the Covid-19 crisis
ended up imposing its own reality. In other words: the crisis could not be
owned by politics.


pandemic, Covid-19, populism, crises, ontology, performance, politization

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Author Biography

Erica Simone Almeida Resende

Erica Simone Almeida Resende holds a double B.A. in Legal Studies and
International Relations, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of
Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her research interests are U.S. foreign policy, identity
politics, memory and trauma studies, discourse analysis, and critical
security studies. Working from South America, she has authored over 12
books in both Portuguese and English, as well as publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar and a U.S. State
Department alumna since 2006. She is Assistant Professor of International
Relations and Security Studies at the Brazilian War College in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, where she is head of the Laboratory on Critical Security Studies.