BASEES Annual Conference 2022

COVID memory wars on social media between populist movements: The Czech case

Fri8  Apr02:20pm(20 mins)
Teaching Room B


Ilana Hartikainen


The 2021 Czech parliamentary election has given parties their first opportunity to shape the memory of our most recent, traumatic past: the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper will focus on the numerous populist parties competing within the Czech political system to investigate how they have incorporated the memory of the COVID-19 pandemic into their movements and, through that, the role that memory plays in the process of “us”-building in a populist movement. Relying on social media data gathered primarily from Facebook during the lead up to the election and using rhetoric-performative analysis as its methodology, this paper will investigate how the aforementioned parties have incorporated the pandemic into their past-focused messaging. It will consider the spatiotemporal entanglements appearing in the data in order to question how COVID-19 has either upheld or upended previously existing memory regimes and the connections that they have drawn between time and space. Finally, by comparing data from the four parties, it will capture the earliest memory wars taking place over the COVID-19 pandemic and how each of the parties is using a different memory of it to engage their followers and thus build their own conception of “the people.”