The Problem with "Populism"

  • Date: –18:30
  • Location: Lewinsalen, room 3576, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Jason Frank, Robert J. Katz Chair of Government at Cornell University
  • Organiser: Department of Government and Uppsala Forum
  • Contact person: Mattias Vesterlund
  • Föreläsning

“Populism” is a notoriously ambiguous political concept, but it has become the dominant term, for scholars and journalists alike, to describe the emergent authoritarianisms of our time and the dangers they pose to liberal democracy. This talk will critically examine how populism has been conceptualized in contemporary democratic theory, and argue that both populism’s liberal critics and radical democratic admirers share a questionable understanding of the concept.  Turning to populism’s nineteenth-century American history, the talk will offer an alternative view of populism as a source of democratic renewal rather than democratic decline.

Jason Frank is the Robert J. Katz Chair of Government at Cornell University. Jason’s research and teaching interests include democratic theory, American political thought, modern political theory, politics and literature, and political aesthetics. He is the author of Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America (Duke University Press, 2010), Publius and Political Imagination (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). While in Uppsala as a Forum Fellow, Jason will work on his forthcoming book entitled The Democratic Sublime: Assembly and Aesthetics in the Age of Revolution (under contract at Oxford University Press) which addresses popular sovereignty in periods of revolutionary transition.