Lecturer of Political Science

Areas of Specialization: American Politics; Comparative Politics; Latin American Politics; Populism; Social Movements; Identity; Media

Rachel Meade studies why people support populism, with a focus on the social identities and political practices of populist movement members. Her research is based on interviews and participant observation conducted in the US and Argentina in 2016-2018. In addition to populism and social movements, her research and teaching interests include political identity, polarization, digital media, political parties, and democratic theory. As an educator, she aims to teach her students civic democratic skills.

Her 2019 article, “Populist Narratives from Below: Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party,” argues that left and right populists share common concerns about media and party elites, while left populists have a more pluralistic conception of “the people.” She draws on interviews from US and Argentine social movement members for “Populism from the Bottom Up: Ethnography from Trump’s US and Kirchner’s Argentina,” published in Routledge’s Mapping Populism.  The chapter compares the political practices of a Michigan Tea Party group and the pro-Kirchner leftist social movement La Campora in Buenos Aires, finding that members engaged in similar sets of political practices which create transgressive social identities. She is currently working on a study of how distrust in experts and elites affects the information-gathering processes of populists. An article written for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage examines these issues of trust as they pertain to anti-lockdown protestors. 

Prior to joining BU in 2020, Rachel taught courses in American Politics and worked as a Fellowships Advisor at Brown University, where she also received her Ph.D. in American and Comparative Politics in 2019. She earned her B.A. in History and Latin American Studies from Bard College in 2010.