“Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad…?”: Populism and the reatened Border in Austria

Alexandra Schwell


This paper analyses the performative power of the discourse on the transgression of borders and boundaries. Drawing on research in Austrian right-wing populist political and
media discourse, I show how different imaginations of threat are connected to different conceptualisations of boundary-drawing. Stigmatized representations of Muslims and Eastern European
males as the threatening “Other” differ regarding the kind of border transgressions and violence used against the body politic. I argue that by invoking the “threatened border”, the
populist discourse creates a powerful image of an endangered ethno-national community, projectinga utopian future where the border will be restored. Therefore, this article elaborates on
the relationship between nationalism and borders by emphasizing the performative nature of the populist discourse on borders and boundaries.

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