Workshop, Wed, 13 – Fri, 15 January 2021

This workshop seeks to bring together scholars working on populism or related themes to reflect on their own work and its relation to populist hype. Following Glynos and Mondon (2016), the term refers to an inflationary use of the label populism, across scholarly, mass media and political arenas, simplifying and homogenizing an array of politicans, parties, and movements, whether as populist or anti-populist. In light of the recent populist hype surrounding the surprise elections of Trump, Duterte, and Brexit to name but a few, we invite critical reflections on the way populism is utilized in politics, media, and academia.

We suggest three sets of questions for the workshop, but welcome any other proposals:

  • How can we justify our particular scholarly uses of “populism” in the light of the hype surrounding it? Can populism still be a productive analytical concept especially compared to related concepts such as democracy, technocracy, and liberalism?
  • What impact has the populist hype had on both academic debate and political discourse? For example, has the populist hype led scholars and other commentators to rally around the political status quo? Did it distract attention from other political projects such as the climate movement, feminism or decolonization?
  • What happens after the hype subsides? Does populism become normalized and fundamentally change politics? Or does the political system instead tame populism?

Keynotes will include: Aurelien Mondon (University of Bath), Bice Maiguashca (University of Exeter), Christopher Bickerton (University of Cambridge)

Please note that the deadline for applications has passed.

The workshop is planned as a blended event (part online, part in-person on the Aberdeen campus). Given the ongoing travel risks it is likely that many if not all of our speakers will only be able participate online. To make the workshop as accessible as possible and to minimise screen fatigue, we decided to spread the workshop over three days instead of two allowing for ample breaks between each session.

The workshop will be hosted by the inter-disciplinary Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law, which studies political concepts in the world. We consider how these concepts have been fostered historically, debated philosophically and in politics, fought over by social movements, codified in law, transmitted through education and the media, and lived out in everyday life.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact the organizers, Stephan Ritscher (stephan.ritscher@abdn.ac.uk) and Daniel Matthews-Ferrero (d.matthews-ferrero@abdn.ac.uk).


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.