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Nationalism and the far right

  • 10 hour course by Umut Özkirimli (IBEI)
  • 28, 29 & 30 June & 1-2 July (09:00 - 11:00h CEST)
  • Format: online

Few would disagree today that liberal democracy is in crisis under the pressure of nationalism, populism and identity politics. Yet the consensus crumbles once we move past this rather banal observation and start discussing the nature of this crisis and how to best respond to it. For some, this is a crisis of liberalism marked by (depending on where you stand on the  Left-Right spectrum) the rise of authoritarian nationalist populism or divisive identity politics; for others, it is a crisis of democracy caused by neoliberal globalism and the concomitant erosion of national sovereignty.

The point of departure of this course is the argument that what we are witnessing today is more a question of retreat from liberalism than anything else, for procedural democracy and elections are still the only game in town, however contested they may be. In fact, as the vast literature on democratization shows, most problems associated with what political scientists call “democratic backsliding” (e.g. electoral manipulation, voter apathy, institutional tinkering, the dismantling of rule of law and checks and balances) are either directly caused by or intrinsically related to the retreat from liberalism and the rise of nationalism.

Even a cursory list of issues with which we are grappling today would be sufficient to expose the nature of the challenge these trends pose: the growing appeal of populist discourses and strategies and their reflection on mainstream politics, in particular on issues related to security, immigration and austerity; the simultaneous and seemingly paradoxical fragmentation of the European project and its further consolidation as a nation-state writ large with ever-changing “others”; the rise and, at least according to some, the fall of multiculturalism; the changing nature of sovereignty, citizenship, territoriality—among others.

This course will seek to understand our current political predicament, reflecting on the nature of nationalism today, and its relationship with kindred concepts such as populism, nativism and racism. It will also explore its thorny connection with far right politics, both theoretically and empirically, focusing on a few selected case studies.

⬇️  Reading List (pdf)