The Global Rise of National Populism

The Global Rise of National Populism

Summer Institute for Community College Instructors

May 31 - June 1, 2019

News of the past few years has increasingly featured accounts of rising national populism in the form of public demonstrations, rhetoric, political leadership, public rhetoric, and more. To examine this global phenomenon, the 2019 Summer Institute for Community College Instructors pivots away from a World History focus toward Global Studies. This program will first consider what Global Studies is and how Global Studies programs differ around the world. Then, participants will learn about the rise of national populism in the modern world and discuss how they might approach teaching about this phenomenon through an explicitly Global Studies lens.

This ORIAS Summer Institute is open to community college instructors across disciplines and (space permitting) high school teachers of AP courses. It is intended for instructors who already teach courses within Global Studies, for instructors who are working to create Global Studies programs, and for instructors who want to globalize their existing courses in rigorous, thoughtful ways. Participation is free, but space is limited.


Friday, May 31

8:30 - 9:00 AM

Check in and breakfast

9:00 - 9:15 AM


9:15 - 10:30 AM

Global Studies and the Global Rise of National Populism
Manfred Steger

What is Global Studies and how can this new transdisciplinary approach be used to illuminate current global issues such as the worldwide rise of national populism? This question stands at the core of the presentation, which contains two major parts. The first section introduces the Global Studies framework in terms of its ‘four pillars’: globalization, transdisciplinarity, space and time, and critical thinking. It also addresses similarities and differences to international studies and areas studies approaches as well as offering a brief overview of related institutional and programmatic contexts. The second part shows how a Global Studies approach can be applied to make sense of the remarkable national populist surge across the globe. Emphasizing the significance of ideological dynamics, this presentation suggests that the new wave of right-wing populism is intricately connected to shifting perceptions of the role of globalization in the world.   

10:45 - 11:45 AM

Global Studies’ Global Footprint: Pathways of Convergence and Divergence
Victor Faessel

The field of Global Studies has grown rapidly over the last 15 years. With degree programs now established across the world, global studies as an academic field reflects diverse institutional settings and paths of development. Since the early to mid-2000s, attempts to intellectual unify this diversity have been undertaken through field-mapping publications, on the one hand, and in the formation of umbrella organizations dedicated either to disseminating research or to networking, sharing best practices and institutional experience, and identification of shared goals with an eye to student outcomes. But given that the rise of the global studies as a teaching field has been largely demand-driven, and considering that conceptions of what “the global” implies for researchers, students, and administrators around the world vary widely, it is no wonder that institutional response in creating GS programs has followed several paths and that ‘Global Studies’ today has taken on sometimes divergent characteristics and emphases, often meaning very different things in different contexts.

This presentation will give a general overview of some common developmental arcs that global studies programs around the world have followed, discuss some challenges to conceptual unification of the field, and touch on student-oriented questions of educational goals and outcomes, stressing the experience of BA and graduate programs.

11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Discussion led by Alan Karras

12:30 - 1:15 PM


1:15 - 2:15 PM

Varieties of Populists: Who are they, and what do they want? 
Martin Eiermann 

The term populism is often invoked to describe a particular type of voter -- stereotypically male, less educated, and less affluent -- as well as a wide range of political movements across many countries. In other words, it assumes a highly specific profile of populist constituents but offers only a very generic characterization of populist platforms. Yet these assumptions are rarely tested, thus raising the possibility that important differences are obscured when diverse political phenomena are lumped into a single category. This presentation attempts to open the black box of populism. Using survey data from 25 European countries, the speaker will demonstrate significant diversity among contemporary populist voters. Not only are they drawn from a wide cross-section of society, but they also fall into different ideological and regional camps. Left populists tend to be more distrustful of social and political institutions than Right populists but also more supportive of pluralist values and democratic norms. Populists in Western Europe tend to be ideologically radical, while populists in Eastern European countries are less distinguishable from the political mainstream. 

2:25 - 3:30 PM

Populism in Turkey: From Revolutionary Nationalism to Islamic Neoliberalism
Cihan Tuğal

Ever since the Young Turks’ mobilization against the Ottoman Sultan, a discursive opposition between the elite and the people has been a mainstay of Turkish politics. Young Turks’ inheritor, Kemalism, explicitly included populism as one of the six pillars of official ideology. Tarnished due to its association with revolutionary nationalism, the word populism came to have negative connotations for the Right and the non-Kemalist Left. Nevertheless, most opponents of official ideology also depended on populist style, as can be seen in the governing parties of the center-right from the 1950s onwards, and among a couple of Marxist organizations (which enjoyed popularity only in the 1970s). After the 1980s, Islamists came to be the major populist actors, pushing the Kemalists themselves into an elitist corner. Mirroring developments in 1980s Latin America, Islamists divorced populism from its erstwhile association with left-progressive politics and married it to neoliberalism. During the last decade, with Kemalists shifting to this conservative-neoliberal ground, Islamists are in search of a new path. The current regime in Turkey now seeks to integrate revolutionary nationalism with Islamic neoliberalism. The Islamic regime is challenged also by the Kurdish movement, whose attempts at populism has not, however, produced a bloc as large as the Islamists' and the Kemalists'.

3:30 - 3:45 PM


Saturday, June 1

8:30 - 9:00 AM

Breakfast and check-in

9:00 - 9:30 AM

Discussion led by Alan Karras

9:30 - 10:30 AM

Populist Politics in Africa
Kathleen Klaus

Populism in its various forms involves an appeal to “the people” and the denunciation of “the other,” be they entrenched elites, immigrants, or another ethnic group. While debates around the resurgence of populism tend to focus on Latin America and Europe, populist politics in Africa has been—and remains—a powerful political tool. Drawing on specific examples from South Africa and Kenya, this talk discusses the meaning of populism in Africa, its current appeal, and the narratives, slogans, and personas that give it life. The talk also considers how populism in Africa compares to other brands, whether it differs from ethnic politics, and whether it threatens or animates democratization across the continent.

10:40 - 11:40 AM

Beyond "Populism": Understanding the Nexus of Democracy and Governance in the Philippines
Maria Ortuoste 

The term "populism" is so ambiguous and value-laden that any intellectual attempt at systematic definition risks entrenching particular political interests.  Instead of belaboring the point this presentation shows how the failures of governance under a democratic political system (the Philippines) engenders many political reactions, one of which could be called populist.  Bringing together political science and area studies, the presentation will discuss structural factors (e.g. institutions, globalization, historical legacies) and the role of agency as a way to understand current politics in the Philippines.

11:40 AM - 12:00 PM

Discussion led by Alan Karras

12:00 - 12:45 PM


12:45 - 1:45 PM

The Revolution Will Be Organized: Power and Protest in Brazil's New Republic, 1988-2018
Elizabeth McKenna

Vast but siloed literatures examine how egalitarian movements strengthen democracies, whereas reactionary countermovements weaken them. Less is known about how rival political movements respond, react, and strategize in relation to one another. This talk focuses on a five-year prospective case study that began at the height of the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT)'s popularity and ended with the election of a neo-fascist military officer. The speaker will describe her investigation of the bounds, composition, and sources of power in the political terrain of a nation-state, and her attempt to arrive at more valid explanations for how and why it shifts. The findings demonstrate that studying how rival parties, movements, and capital fractions interact leaves us better positioned to understand political shifts—like the rise of illiberal politics worldwide—than any one does on their own.

1:55 - 3:00 PM

Manufacturing a Hindu people: the rise of Hindu nationalism in India
Thomas Blom Hansen

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People’s Party), won a strong mandate across large parts of India. In May 2019, the party’s leader, Narendra Modi is seeking re-election on a promise of making India a world power, a strong economy and society that gives preference to its Hindu majority over the country’s multiple minorities.

The BJP is a part of a very large and sprawling assemblage of militant, conservative Hindu organizations with more than 10 million volunteers that all focus on ‘unifying’ Hindus across deep divides of community, language and caste. The movement works to preserve and defend traditional gender norms against liberal reforms; and its leaders vow to ‘defend’ Hindus from supposed demographic and physical threats from the large minorities in the country, especially Muslims.

The rise of this movement in the last three decades has resulted in unprecedented levels of violence against minorities across India – pogroms, arson, lynching – and increasing threats to civil liberties and freedom of speech. This lecture will lay out the history of this movement and how it today constitutes the gravest threat to the very institutions of liberal democracy that enabled it to grow and flourish.

3:10 - 3:30

Closing Discussion

When & Where

Where: The Institute will be held at the ORIAS office, at 1995 University Ave, Suite 510, in downtown Berkeley.

When: See the agenda to the left for daily schedule information. Please arrive during the breakfast and check-in period or at breaks.

Registration: Registration is currently full, though you may use the registration form to add your name to the waitlist.

Transit & Parking: ORIAS is located close to several AC Transit bus lines and only three blocks from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. If at all possible, it is recommended that you take public transit. If you drive, you can learn about parking options here.


Read, Watch, Listen, Explore

Please see the links below for pre-reading or follow-up resources.


"Trump in the Tropics" episode from The Good Fight podcast


Global Studies Consortium

global-e online global studies journal