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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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Conference at the Faculty of Political and Social Science, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, 2-3 July 2020

Call for papers (deadline for applications 25th of February, 2020):

Organizers: Manuela Caiani, Francesca Feo (SNS)

Keynotes lectures: Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Andrea Krizsán (Central European University) (TBC), Bice Maiguascha (University of Exeter)

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.

Benefitting 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.

The deadline for paper proposals is 25th of February, 2020. Please send an abstract of your planned contribution (max. 500 words) together with a short bio to francesca.feo@sns.it. Notification of acceptance will be sent by the 10th of March, 2020.

There is no registration fee, but accommodation and travel costs are to be covered by participants.

News

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.

22/07/2019

Protest for a future: international report on #FridaysForFuture and the climate strike

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Composition, mobilization and motives of the participants in Fridays For Future climate protests on 15 March 2019, in 13 European cities. A multi-country collaboration report, with contributions from COSMOS researchers Lorenzo Zamponi, Donatella della Porta, Martín Portos, Niccolò Bertuzzi and Daniela Chironi.

21/06/2019

Call for papers: "The Nation and the Radical Left - Practices and Discourses of National Identity in Left-Wing Politics"

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The call for papers is now open for a conference on national identities and left-wing politics.

18/06/2019

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The call for papers is now open for a two-day conference on class and identities at the Scuola Normale Superiore on 14-15 November 2019

05/03/2019

A dialogue on labour, trade unions and conflicts

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On the 22nd of March, from 4pm to 7pm, Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore) and Maurizio Landini (Secretary General of CGIL) will discuss about labour, trade unions and conflicts.

Publications

Journal Article - 2019

Alliance building and eventful protests: comparing Spanish and Portuguese trajectories under the Great Recession

Martín Portos & Tiago Carvalho
Social movement research has shed light on the relationship between processes of alliance building and multiple factors related to political opportunities, framing, identities, networks and resource mobilization. However, less is known about the impact of eventful protests on coalition building dynamics.

Monograph - 2019

Social Mobilization beyond Ethnicity. Civic Activism and Grassroots Movements in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Chiara Milan
This book offers an in-depth investigation of the emergence and spread of social mobilizations that transcend ethnicity in societies violently divided along ethno-national lines. Using Bosnia Herzegovina as a case study, the book explores episodes of mobilization which have superseded ethno-nationalist cleavages.

Journal Article - 2019

From the Rainy Place to the Burnt Palace: How Social Movements Form their Political Strategies. The Case of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba

Leonidas Oikonomakis
Exploring the case of the cocaleros of the Chapare, this article argues that more emphasis should be placed on mechanisms that are internal to the movements, such as: (a) the resonance of other political experiences at home and abroad, (b) internal struggles for ideological hegemony, and (c) the political formation of their grassroots.

Monograph - 2019

Resistere alla crisi. I percorsi dell'azione sociale diretta

Lorenzo Bosi, Lorenzo Zamponi
Uno studio in profondità su solidarietà, mutualismo e organizzazione dal basso nell'Italia della crisi.

Journal Article - 2019

Digital movement parties: a comparative analysis of the technopolitical cultures and the participation platforms of the Movimento 5 Stelle and the Piratenpartei

Marco Deseriis
This article contributes to the debate on technopopulism by accounting for the critical role played by two different technopolitical cultures in shaping the conception and design of the online participation platforms of the Italian Five Star Movement and the German Pirate Party.

Monograph - 2018

The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Struggles and Power Relations within English and Italian Universities

Lorenzo Cini
Drawing on neo-institutionalist and social movement approaches, this book analyses the impact that recent student mobilizations have brought about within Italian and English universities in terms of student services, curriculum organization, and governance structures.

Chapter in edited book - 2018

I post, you rally, she tweets…and we all occupy. The challenges of hybrid spatiality in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations

Alice Mattoni
Exploring the interconnections between camps and platforms, this chapter shows how a fluid conception of spatiality emerged in the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations, which had vital implications for the participation patterns of activists.

Journal Article - 2018

New Technologies as a Neglected Social Movement Outcome: The Case of Activism against Animal Experimentation

Manès Weisskircher
Based on novel empirical research, this paper analyzes a crucial and understudied case of a movement pushing for new technologies: the animal rights movement and its efforts to push for alternatives to animal experimentation.