Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Populism 2.0

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Populism 2.0 Event

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Chakrabarti Lecture Theatre (JHB208) and JHB207, John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


Donald Trump in the US, and both right and left-wing populist parties and movements in Europe, have served to intensify the perception that populism has re-emerged as a political phenomenon. 

The global recession, austerity and immigration are powerful issues for populist politicians to rally support in a reading of the world which is divided between the will of the ‘people’ versus a profligate ‘elite’. Yet, populism remains a loose and fuzzy concept which can often be misapplied and can be understood in different ways in different contexts and temporal realities. 

Contemporary populism is not isolated to Western Europe and the United States; Latin American and post-Soviet populism arguably pre-date the rise of populist politicians in the West.

This workshop brings together historians and political scientists to situate the phenomenon of contemporary populism in theoretical and historical perspective, while also taking account of the diverse forms of populism in various regional contexts.

The papers in this workshop seek to address questions such as:

  • How can we best theorise and conceptualise populism? 
  • Why has it re-emerged as a viable force now?
  • Did it ever go away? 
  • How does contemporary populism differ from populist movements of the past? 
  • What are the implications of populism for liberal democracy? 
  • And how is it understood in different geographical contexts? 

The papers will draw on a wide range of cases from the US, UK, post-Soviet areas, Latin America, Europe and South Africa, offering a thorough treatment of the concept.

9:30 Coffee and tea
10:00“Welcome/opening remarks: Interpreting populism.” Gary Browning 
10:15–11:30The populist style - Sarah Whitmore
“Anti-politics or postmodern populism - 20 years on.” Barrie Axford and Richard Huggins
“Real people, then and now.” Erik Landis
“Common sense democracy: On populist reason.” Tom Crook
Coffee and tea
11:45–13:00Populism and the global order - Chrissie Steenkamp
“Populism as a normative order: Illiberalism in the post-communist space.” Rico Isaacs
“New wine in old Bottles? Latin American populism revisited" John Crabtree
“Trump and grand strategy.” Thomas Robb 
13:00–14:00 Sandwich lunch
14:00–15.15The economics of populism - Dorethe Rosenow
“The economic freedom fighters and left-wing populism in South Africa.” Steve Hurt and Mikko Kuisma:
“The roots of populism: Revolt of the ‘left behind’?" Jon Wheatley
“Who are the Corbynites, and what do they believe?” Glen O’Hara
Coffee and tea
15:30–14.45Populism and cultural wars - Molly Cochran
“Speaking to the silent majorities: Nixon, Reagan, Trump.” James Cooper
“British Welfare for British Citizens; Or, Brexit As an Opportunity for Neoliberal Welfare State Retrenchment?” Matthew Donoghue
“Does the demise of UKIP mean the demise of populist political parties in the United Kingdom, or is this the lull before the storm—what messages did the election of 2017 send us?” Alex Finnen
16:45–17:00Concluding remarks
Barrie Axford ( baxford@brookes.ac.uk)
Tom Crook ( tcrook@brookes.ac.uk)
Rico Isaacs ( ricoisaacs@brookes.ac.uk)