chapter  10
Trump’s two bodies
The trickster-wrestler as a political type
ByMorten Axel Pedersen
Pages 16

What kind of leader is Donald Trump? From the vantage of traditional political anthropology and political sociology, the popularity of anti-establishment populist leaders such as Trump, Duerte and others such as the former Italian prime minister Berlusconi represents something of an anomaly if not a mystery. After all, according to this scholarship the exemplary leader stands out from others by virtue of superior moral qualities and capacities. But what happens when the buffoonish and transgressive behaviour of clowns, fools and tricksters is elevated to a political platform? Of what is Trump an exemplar? Based on a critical re-assessment of the anthropological literature on moral exemplars and on tricksters, this chapter explores the “two bodies” of modern populist and authoritarian leaders like Trump via re-assessment of the literature on moral exemplars and tricksters. This will involve a series of transformations of established analytical binaries from the literature on what Sahlins called “political types”: chief/big man → big man/great man → bureaucratic/charismatic leader → moral exemplar/ trickster, to end with the (ludicrous and scary, yet I think apt) binary of the “wrestler-trickster”