Fear of a brown planet: the 'Trump effect', right-wing populism, and Islamophobia in Australia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 20:54 by Zahrah N. Sahib
This thesis will argue how the explicit Islamophobic stance Donald Trump embodied during 2016-17, influenced a resurgence of right-wing populism in Australia. Amidst a global environment, characterised by notions of insecurity, Trump emerged victorious in his bid to win the 45th United States Presidency. His presidential claim to fame centered on a populist premise of 'Making America Great Again' through mobilising the disenfranchised white fringes of US society. The superpower's legitimisation of a nationalistic driven rhetoric presents a thriving area of interest within academia, specifically in localising the 'Trump effect' in the Australian context and examining its impact on Australian politicians and the media. The significance of my research project lies in the complexity of analysing the domestic media and political spheres, portraying a homogenous threatening perspective of the Othered identity, personified by Australian Muslims. However, this is not a novel concept. Previous research into Australia's settler-colonialist history reveals an embedded legacy premised upon systematically oppressing and demonising Indigenous and non-white bodies. In these deviations from the white majority, racialised manifestations of Islamophobia are justified: a public perception of the Muslim body as a sole aggressor in an otherwise peaceful world is reinforced through ethnocentric schemas advocated by those with political power. Regarding the 'Trump effect' that is characterised by an overwhelming Islamophobic sentiment prevailing throughout the West, the thesis will analyse key public addresses recorded during Trump's pre-presidential and post-inauguration campaigns. Through a Foucauldian discourse and visual cultural analysis, the effects of his Islamophobic representations of Islam and Muslims are compared with the rhetoric of the Australian political and media spheres. As such, iterations of the transnational nature of the 'Trump effect' are best exemplified through the controversial personalities of Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi. In concluding, my thesis evidences how Trump's position of power institutionalised a divisive rhetoric that normalised race hatred and hate speech in an unprecedented way. Therefore, the Australian populist response was legitimated in its overt adaptation of the 'Trump effect'.