Backlash: The Rise of Populism in Global Perspective

The University Forum on Current Issues

The University Forum on Current Issues series is designed to engage the Pitt community in respectful and civil discussions about today’s most vital issues. Under the leadership of the Office of the Provost, each forum aims to incorporate a broad set of perspectives that will allow for a deeper understanding of challenging current affairs. For additional events, visit here.

“Backlash: The Rise of Populism in Global Perspective”

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The discussion will place recent popular upheavals (the US elections, Brexit, etc.) in transnational perspective. The panel will introduce rising populism briefly and address questions including: how rising economic inequality and frustration with reigning economic orthodoxy have fueled populist surges; why populism sometimes manifests as a right-wing and sometimes a left-wing phenomenon; why trust in political institutions and mainstream media has eroded and what role social media and alternative sources of news and information have played in facilitating populism; likely trajectories of this populist wave and its broader implications; and, the appropriate role of a university in responding to a populism driven in part by distrust of elites and suspicion of expertise.

Panelists included:

Michael Goodhart, PhD (Moderator), is Associate Professor of Political Science and holds secondary appointments in Philosophy and in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.  He is Director of the Global Studies Center at Pitt and a University Honors College Faculty Fellow.  His research focuses on democratic governance and accountability and the global level, on the theory and practice of human rights, and on philosophical approaches to problems of injustice.  He has published widely on these and other topics, and his latest book, Political Theory and the Politics of Injustice, is slated for publication with Oxford University Press later this year.

Jeanette S. Jouili, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. She has held fellowships at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities, at Duke University, and at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research. Her research and teaching interests include Islam in Europe, secularism, pluralism, popular culture, moral and aesthetic practices, and gender. Her recent publications include Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe. Stanford University Press, 2015 and “Islamic Sounds, Secular Sounds and The Politics of Listening,” Special Issue of Anthropological Quarterly (coedited with Annelies Moors), 87.4 (2014). She is an affiliated faculty of European Studies Center, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, Global Studies Center.

Noah Theriault, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include the cultural politics of environmental regulation, indigeneity, state-minority relations, and the political ecology of agrarian transformations in Southeast Asia and beyond. His current work focuses on the Philippines and its so-called “last frontier,” Palawan Island.  His endeavors as an anthropologist are animated both by intellectual curiosity and by a deeply felt commitment to social and environmental justice.  He is the founding co-editor of Engagement, a blog about engaged environmental anthropology, and is currently a regular contributor to a new interdisciplinary blog called Inhabiting the Anthropocene.

Emily Rook-Koepsel, PhD, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, Asian Studies Center studies the history of democracy and democratic movements in India. Focusing on questions of inclusion, constituency, citizenship, and unity, Rook-Koepsel’s most recent projects have argued that democratic state building has been a project of negotiating inclusivity and power, especially for minority political speech and organizing. By looking at a long history of popular politics and anti-colonial movements in India, Rook-Koepsel argues that the meaning of key terms of Indian politics, like democracy, unity, and citizenship were defined for an Indian context among popular majority movements, minority political organizations, and state power.

Miguel Simón, PhD, is a visiting scholar at the European Studies Center for the 2016-2017 academic year, where he is conducting research on the rise of the far-right in politics in Europe and the U.S. Dr. Simón received his Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Administration from Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain. He has been a visiting fellow at Harvard University, held a postdoctoral fellowship at Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris and Centre Pour l’Ëtude de la Vie Politique in France (FNSP-CNRS). Prior to his year in residence here at Pitt, he was a visiting scholar at the Institut d’Études Politiques  de Paris (Sciences Po) before working with the Federal Executive Committee of Spain’s PSOE party. He has served in the capacity of political advisor, in addition to his work as a scholar. He is the author of Sociedad, Estado y autonomía politica (Madrid, 2006) and editor of La extrema derecho en Euorpea de 1945 a nuestros días (Madrid, 2007), a collaborative volume on the topic of the Radical Right in Europe.