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Cosmos

The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Populism, Gender and Feminist Politics: Between the Backlash and the Resistance

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ONLINE CONFERENCE

Scuola Normale Superiore, 10-11 December 2020.

Organizers: Manuela Caiani, Francesca Feo (SNS)

Keynotes lectures: Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Andrea Krizsán (Central European University).

In the present context of social insecurity and political realignment, populist parties and movements are everywhere on the rise, both on the left and on the right. In the abundant literature now available in the field of populism studies, there is increasing attention to the complex relationship between populism, gender and feminist politics. This 2-days international conference wants to provide a space to deepen the discussion around the diverse ways in which gender is constructed, mobilized and contested in the populist political moment.

Benefiting from a widespread sense of crisis, the populist surge also confronts neoliberal hegemony. While left-wing populism rails against economic neoliberalism, the populist right is mounting an attack on neoliberal culture, in which anti-feminism takes centre stage. As Nancy Fraser describes, ‘authoritarian populism’ takes aim at a regime of ‘progressive neoliberalism’, a form of elitist liberalism that managed to co-opt and disarm the emancipatory agenda put forward by the New Social Movements since the 1970s. This diagnosis has been contested, but it raises interesting questions about the position of feminism in the populist dichotomy between the establishment and the people.

In recent years, the populist radical right has appropriated the conservative agenda on gender issues, sponsoring patriarchal social relations and heteronormativity through masculinist tropes, maternalist policies as well as by joining, supporting or creating anti-gender mobilizations. Often, gender and religion have been used as criteria to identify the people of the ‘heartland’ and the outsider groups, in what Sara Farris calls ‘femonationalism’. Also, anti-gender issues create a common ground for the creation of transnational (populist) radical right identities and movements, overcoming the constraints to internationalization processes posed by the nationalist core value of radical right ideology.

Against the conservative backlash, women’s and feminist movements have sprung up in many countries, defending women’s rights and the gains of the feminist project. Populism, even from the right, may create unanticipated openings for women’s empowerment, regardless of the actors’ intentions. On the other hand, the new wave of mobilizations may also open up the possibility of a feminist populism on the left. In the past, especially in Latin America, feminist mobilizations have often found an ally in populist formations.

Drawing on recent debates, we are particularly interested in the following themes:

  • Theorizing on the relation between populism(s) and feminism(s)
  • The construction of gender in populist discourses
  • Gendered practices within populist parties and movements
  • Opportunities and threats of populist politics for the promotion of gender equality
  • The impact of populist varieties on feminist and gender-friendly policies
  • The relationship between populism and anti-gender mobilizations
  • How women’s movements mobilize for and against populism
  • Feminist resistance in populist times
  • The implication of feminism in anti-establishment as well as elitist politics
  • The (re)gendering of politics in the populist moment and its effects on the gender system

The conference invites theoretical and empirical contributions from all related academic fields. We welcome papers with different regional foci and aim for methodological diversity.

There is no registration fee.

Keynotes lectures will be streamed@ SNS Channel Humanities and Social Sciences.
For further information on how to participate write to manuela.caiani@sns.it and francesca.feo@sns.it

 

News

10/01/2022

SNS announces 14 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence, Italy is pleased to announce 14 PhD fellowships beginning on November 1, 2022.

16/07/2021

Prof. della Porta to lead VolkswagenStiftung-funded ECSEuro project

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Reflecting the European challenge of transnational cooperation and multiple crises, this project asks how local political initiatives across Europe enact citizenship and solidarity and contribute to the vision of a more democratic Europe from below.

09/07/2021

SNS announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions

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The Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore announces 7 fully-funded PhD positions. Deadline for applications: 21 August 2021.

28/09/2020

Four post-doctoral research positions on the pandemic

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The Scuola Normale Superiore announces four post-doctoral positions to be activated as part of the research project “After the coronavirus pandemic: The effects of the health emergency on society and knowledge.” 

26/02/2020

CFP Athens conference "Capitalism, Democracy, Contention: A Decade of Crisis" 13-15 May 2020

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Aspiring to shed light on the Greek experience in the era of crisis in a comparative, inter-disciplinary perspective, the Laboratory on Contentious Politics (Department of Political Science and History, Panteion University, Athens), the Centre on Social Movement Studies (Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) and the Hellenic Political Science Association are organizing an international conference to be held at Panteion University, on 13, 14 and 15 May 2020.

12/12/2019

Prof. Donatella Della Porta to Be Awarded Honorary PhD

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On Friday 13, 2019, the University of the Peloponnese (PSIR) will award an honorary doctorate to Professor Donatella Della Porta, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the Scuola Normale Superiore.

Publications

Journal Article - 2022

Forging, bending, and breaking: Enacting the “illiberal playbook” in Hungary and Poland

Andrea Pirro & Ben Stanley
We first argue that illiberal changes are ideologically founded and identify how both populism and nativism figure in the policymaking of illiberals in power. We then show how these practices emerge from a common “illiberal playbook”—a paradigm of policy change comprising forms of forging, bending, and breaking—and elaborate on the notion that illiberal governments are using legalism to kill liberalism.

Journal Article - 2022

Populists in power and conspiracy theories

Andrea Pirro & Paul Taggart
Looking at three cases of populists in government – Orbán in Hungary, Trump in the United States, and Chávez in Venezuela – we examine the definition of conspiring elites (who), the circumstances under which conspiracy theories are propagated (when), and the ultimate purpose of conspiratorial framing (why).

Journal Article - 2022

The Three Faces of Populism in Power: Policy, Policies and Politics

Manuela Caiani & Paolo Graziano
The article explores the consequences of the increasing presence of both left- and right-wing populist parties in government, critically reflecting on the recent scholarship on the topic, underlining promising venues for future research and outlining a conceptual framework which constitutes the background of this special issue entitled ‘Populism in Power and its Consequences’.

Monograph - 2022

Resisting the Backlash: Street Protest in Italy

Donatella della Porta, Niccolò Bertuzzi, Daniela Chironi, Chiara Milan, Martín Portos & Lorenzo Zamponi
Drawing interview material, together with extensive data from the authors’ original social movement database, this book examines the development of social movements in resistance to perceived political "regression" and a growing right-wing backlash.

Journal Article - 2022

The mobilization for spatial justice in divided societies. Urban commons, trust reconstruction and socialist memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
The article contributes to the urban studies literature and the study of social movements in divided societies by disclosing the distinctive features and mobilizing potential that the notion of urban commons retains in a war-torn society with a socialist legacy.

Journal Article - 2022

Casting a new light on the democratic spectator

Andrea Felicetti
Scholarship in relation to democratic theory tends to see spectatorship as a state in which citizens are politically uninterested, isolated, and passive. In this article, the author shows that positive spectatorship occurs when citizens show an interest in one or more political problems and, together with others, strive to understand them better.

Edited Volume - 2021

Contentious Migrant Solidarity. Shrinking Spaces and Civil Society Contestation

Donatella della Porta & Elias Steinhilper
Building upon social movement and migration studies, this book maps the two sides of ‘contentious solidarity’: a shrinking civic space and its contestation by civil society.

Journal Article - 2021

Learning from Democratic Practices: New Perspectives in Institutional Design

Andrea Felicetti
Drawing from literature on democratic practices in social movements and democratic innovations, the article illustrates three ways to advance institutional design in the wake of the systemic turn.

Journal Article - 2021

Far-right protest mobilisation in Europe: Grievances, opportunities and resources

Pietro Castelli Gattinara, Caterina Froio & Andrea Pirro
In this article, we bridge previous research on the far right and social movements to advance hypotheses on the drivers of far-right protest mobilisation based on grievances, opportunities and resource mobilisation models. We use an original dataset combining novel data on 4,845 far-right protest events in 11 East and West European countries (2008–2018), with existing measures accounting for the (political, economic and cultural) context of mobilisation.

Journal Article - 2021

Populism between voting and non-electoral participation

Andrea Pirro & Martín Portos
The article focuses on a neglected aspect of populist mobilisation, i.e. non-electoral participation (NEP), and elaborates on the extent to which populist party voters engage politically outside the polling station. While challenging common understandings of populism as inherently distrustful and apathetic, and protest as an exclusive practice of the left, the study critically places NEP at the heart of populism in general, and populist right politics in particular.