S05E05: Nadia Urbinati on the Resur­gence of Pop­ulism, its His­to­ry, and its Var­i­ous Forms

Since pop­ulism became wide­spread in parts of Latin Amer­i­ca, was it mis­tak­en­ly seen as for­eign to Euro-Amer­i­can lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, and has it in recent decades become more wide­spread than par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy or lib­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism? Is the poten­tial for pop­ulism inher­ent in democ­ra­cy itself, espe­cial­ly when con­ceived in terms of a dialec­tic between the major­i­ty and the minor­i­ty? Is it always accom­pa­nied by a sus­pi­cion against the elites? Should pro­gres­sive polit­i­cal forces resort to pop­ulist tac­tics and rhetoric in order to win back the mass­es from the far-right dem­a­gogues? Or does this inevitably pose a risk to demo­c­ra­t­ic ideals of plu­ral­ism and uni­ver­sal­ism? Could this then pave the way to an exclu­sion­ary, antag­o­nis­tic, imag­i­nary sys­tem, which would play into the hands of eth­no-nation­al­ist forces? Is pop­ulism still com­pat­i­ble with democ­ra­cy by con­tin­u­al­ly test­ing its lim­its? And what dis­tin­guish­es pop­ulist pol­i­tics from post-fas­cist rule?

Guests fea­tured in this episode: 

Nadia Urbinati, the Kyr­i­akos Tsakopou­los Pro­fes­sor of Polit­i­cal The­o­ry at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. She is also a per­ma­nent vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at the Scuo­la Supe­ri­ore Sant’Anna in Pisa (Italy), and has taught at Boc­coni Uni­ver­si­ty Milan (Italy), Sci­ences Po Paris (France) and the UNI­CAMP Uni­ver­si­ty (Brazil). Her main fields of exper­tise are mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary polit­i­cal thought and the demo­c­ra­t­ic, as well as anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic traditions.


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.