Elena Block’s first book, Political Communication and Leadership: Mimetisation, Hugo Chávez and the Construction of Power and Identity has just been published by Routledge New York. A revision of her 2014 PhD thesis supervised by Associate Professor Eric Louw and Dr Kitty van Vuuren, this is a major study of controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. She says that the book allowed her to join up all the elements involved in Chavez’s political communication style: 'hegemony and identity construction, political culture, populism, mediatisation and communicational government'. Chavez, she says, took further classic populist styles towards ‘more inclusive, participatory forms’. For her study Elena drew on her prior experience lecturing in political communication at the Central University of Venezuela and working variously in journalism, PR, corporate communications and media liaison in Venezuela. She says that these in-country experiences very much informed her understanding of Chavez’s distinct political style.
Elena’s study is an important contribution to the growing body of work on the new kinds of political populism that have emerged over the last two decades globally. Since completing her PhD Elena has been working with Prof Ralph Negrine of the University of Sheffield comparing UK and Latin American forms of new populism conducting their research from the perspective of political communication.
Elena has a MSc from the London School of Economics and a BA in Social Communication from the Central University of Venezuela. Elena is currently tutoring in the School of Communication and Arts.