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Dr Maria Asavei


Institute of International Studies, Charles University

Scientist-in-Charge for Charles University

POPREBEL project: ‘ Populism and popular culture in Central and South-Eastern Europe: an ambivalent relationship?’

After the fall of communism, according to current political rhetoric, the former communist countries should have quickly adapted to the Western market economy and cultural strategies. The rapid ‘Westernisation’ of East European art and culture dictates the main trends, strategies and even what art and cultural production should be critical about. As a reaction to these pressures cultural production from the region has started to display more “cultural traditions” and “neo-traditional styles.” Thus, cultural productions are politicised and used in debates on European integration or religious values. This task aims to disentangle the realm of popular culture and art’s relation to populism. Populist parties in CEE identify themselves with  formats of cultural productions which oppose, resist or critique “high culture” on the grounds that there is an antagonism between the general will and taste of the people and elite’s culture and aesthetic taste. However, there is a conflation between “high culture” and elitism as well as between popular culture and people’s culture. In this framework, a rich category of mass films, comedy as a genre, pop & hip-hop music, and media provide a valuable insight in both promoting and contesting populist ideology.

Key publications