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Mapping Global Populism — Panel XII: Populist Authoritarianism in China – National and Global Perspectives

Date/Time: Thursday, April 25, 2024 — 10:00-12:00 (CET)

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Dr. Rune Steenberg

(Anthropologist Researching Uyghurs and Central Asia, Principal Investigator at Palacký University Olomouc).


“Who Are the People, Populist Articulation of the People in Contemporary China,” by Dr. Kun He (Postdoctoral Researcher at the Computational Linguistics Group within the University of Groningen).

Religion with Chinese Characteristics – Regulating Religions under Xi Jinping,” by Dr. Martin Lavička (Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University).

“Unveiling China’s ‘Global Populism’: Sharp Power Politics Along the Belt and Road Initiative,” by Dr. Ibrahim Ozturk (Professor of Economy and visiting fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen).

The Expanding Reach of China’s Authoritarian Influence: Shaping a New Illiberal Digital Order,” by Dr. Yung-Yung Chang (Assistant Professor at Asia-Pacific Regional Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan). 


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Brief Biographies and Abstracts

Dr. Rune Steenberg is an anthropologist researching the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Uyghurs. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Xinjiang, Central Asia, China, and Indonesia and has published widely on topics ranging from kinship to cross-border trade, narratives, and mass incarceration. Rune received his PhD from Freie Universität Berlin in 2014 and is currently a researcher at Palacky University Olomouc. Since 2018, he has also worked as a Uyghur interpreter for asylum seekers, activists, journalists, and human rights organisations, and has participated in producing several documentary films on the tragedies in Xinjiang. 

Who Are the People, Populist Articulation of the People in Contemporary China

Dr. Kun He is a postdoctoral researcher in the Computational Linguistic Group of the University of Groningen. His academic journey has been characterized by an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing fields such as populism, humane AI, media and communication studies, and computational social science. Presently, his research mainly focuses on three main areas: Populist multimodal and multiplatform communication (PhD project), particularly in the context of Chinese populism; the exploration of humane AI (postdoc project), emphasizing human-AI interaction, AI ethics and the geopolitics of AI; and the study of visual disinformation. All his research activities are conducted within the framework of computational social science, applying computational methods to analyze extensive datasets.
Abstract: Discerning what populists mean by the people is crucial for understanding populism. However, the appeals populists make to the people differ across political systems, with distinctions particularly evident between democratic contexts and one-party states such as China. Articulations of the people in Chinese populist communication remain underexplored, which is a gap this paper addresses by clarifying how the people is constructed in the discourses that underpin Chinese populism. A total of 61 populism cases were examined through discourse and meta-analyses, from which three manifestations of the people emerged. First, the Chinese nation serves as an ideological glue to mobilize people to protest against those seen as betraying their Chinese identity or violating the sovereignty and dignity of China. Second, the mass is associated with an affective aversion to scientists and experts, but also with mass support for a satirical subculture that challenges the hegemony of elite-dominated cultural production and cultural institutions. Finally, socially vulnerable groups assemble powerless people in situations of economic impoverishment, political marginalization, and social vulnerability. The analysis reveals how these three conceptualizations of the people drive online Chinese bottom-up populism, allowing netizens to serve as mediators and pitting the people against corrupt elites and the establishment.

Religion with Chinese Characteristics – Regulating Religions under Xi Jinping

Dr. Martin Lavička studied Chinese and Japanese philology (BA), International Relations (MA), and Political Science (Ph.D.). He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, teaching courses about modern Chinese history, Taiwan history, and Chinese politics. His research focuses on the socio-legal aspects of China’s ethnic policies, religious freedoms, and the rule of law. He is a visiting research fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden, working on his two-year OP-JAC MSCA-CZ project titled Chinese Conceptualisation of the Rule of Law (CLAW): Challenges for the International Legal Order. 

Abstract: In China, freedom of belief is officially protected by the Constitution and legal documents. However, in practice, the government often restricts religious activity and discriminates against religious minorities. Five major religions have been tolerated but regulated by the Communist Party-led state since the end of the Cultural Revolution. The government regulates religious activity by requiring religious groups to register with the state, approving religious leaders, and monitoring religious activities. Additionally, under the current leadership, religions are increasingly pressured to reflect Chinese characteristics and include, for example, Xi Jinping Thought in their teachings. The Communist Party views religion with suspicion and believes that foreign forces can use it to undermine the government. Therefore, it is the Communist Party’s long-term goal of gradually reducing religion’s role in Chinese society. In recent years, we have witnessed an increasing number of religious restrictions targeting not only Uyghur Muslims, but also increasingly encompassing a wider range of religious practitioners across China. My presentation will address some of these recent policies and laws, examine the so-called “Chinafication” of religions, and show the shrinking space for religious believers in today’s China.

Unveiling China’s ‘Global Populism’: Sharp Power Politics Along the Belt and Road Initiative

Dr. Ibrahim Ozturk is a Professor of Economy and visiting fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen since 2017. He is studying developmental, institutional, and international economics. His research focuses on the Japanese, Turkish, and Chinese economies. Currently, he is working on emerging hybrid governance models and the rise of populism in the Emerging Market Economies. As a part of that interest, he studies the institutional quality of China’s Modern Silk Road Project /The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its governance model, and implications for the global system. He also teaches courses on business and entrepreneurship in the Emerging Market Economies, such as BRICS/MINT countries. Email:,

Abstract: This paper underscores the pressing need to understand the intersection of populism, which is currently being rigorously developed to explain contemporary political divisions worldwide, with the emerging concept of “sharp power politics” (SPP). It argues that as populist governments increasingly lean towards authoritarianism over extended periods, they are prone to engage in international power politics, mainly through SPP. This involves creating new scapegoats and manufacturing national threats to mask internal shortcomings or further consolidate the ruling party’s authority. The paper supports this argument by examining China’s adoption of a robust global populist rhetoric after decades of accommodating economic and political strategies. China strategically employs this rhetoric to exploit weaknesses in the multilateral world order, aiming to expand its influence through initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

When Technology Meets Authoritarianism – The Expanding Reach of China’s Authoritarian Influence: Shaping a New Illiberal Digital Order?

Dr. Yung-Yung Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Asia-Pacific Regional Studies Program at the National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. Her main research interest deals with China’s discourse power in digital governance, regional integration in East Asia, China’s external relations/foreign policy and politics & security of the Indo-Pacific region. She has researched in the UK, Austria, Germany, and Taiwan. She has published in Journal of Chinese Political Science, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Politics & Policy and so on. Her recent publication is ‘China beyond China, establishing a digital order with Chinese characteristics. China’s growing discursive power and the Digital Silk Road.’

Abstract: In recent years, China has emerged as a prominent figure in the global digital arena, exerting its authoritarian influence far beyond its territorial borders. This presentation examines China’s role as a surveillance dictatorship and technological pioneer in shaping a burgeoning authoritarian digital order.

The focus of the presentation is to analyze how China’s digital authoritarian practices are spreading and gaining traction abroad, reshaping the global landscape of digital repression and control, and challenging conventional notions of digital freedom and democracy.

The presentation will begin by scrutinizing the ongoing debate surrounding the impact of digital technology on authoritarian governance. Following this, the presentation elucidates key concepts such as digital authoritarianism, digital order, state capacity, and legibility to provide a solid foundation for further discussion. It will then pivot to analyze China’s ambitious national strategy aimed at establishing itself as a dominant cyber power, while also examining its trajectory toward becoming a burgeoning surveillance state.

Empirically, the presentation will utilize the Digital Silk Road as a case study to demonstrate how the CCP strategically employs digital infrastructure projects to propagate its high-tech, surveillance-oriented model on a global scale, thereby offering a blueprint for international emulation.

Prabowo Subianto gives a speech about the vision and mission of the 2019 Indonesian presidential candidate in front of a crowd of supporters on the campaign in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on April 8, 2019. Photo: Aidil Akbar.

International Conference on Populisms, Digital Technologies, and the 2024 Elections in Indonesia

Venue/Date: Deakin University, Australia / April 17-18, 2024.


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Deakin University, in collaboration with the European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS), Universitas Indonesia, and Universitas Gadjah Mada, is organizing “The International Conference: Populisms, Digital Technologies, and the 2024 Elections in Indonesia.” This event, scheduled shortly after the simultaneous multi-level elections in February, will be hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization (ADI), providing a crucial platform to explore various aspects and dynamics of populism in Indonesia. The conference’s scope extends beyond electoral outcomes to encompass the intricate interplay between populism, digital technologies, artificial intelligence, disinformation, religion, collective emotions, and socio-political factors that shape Indonesia’s democratic discourse.

Over the course of two intense days, the conference will feature comprehensive discussions spanning 31 papers organized into eight thought-provoking panels. These panels will address distinct facets of Indonesia’s populisms, ranging from Gender and Youth to Populist Strategy and Communication, and from the complexities of Sharp Power, Disinformation, and Cancel Culture to the nuances of Authoritarianism and Islamist Populism. The diversity of topics underscores the breadth and depth of issues that this conference endeavors to explore.

In addition to paper presentations, the conference will also host two distinguished keynote speakers: Professor Simon Tormey, a renowned authority on populism theory with over a decade of scholarly contribution, and Professor Vedi Hadiz, a seasoned scholar specializing in Islamic populism within the Indonesian context. Their insights will enrich understanding and stimulate critical dialogue throughout and after the conference.

The timely conference is made possible thanks to the generous funding provided by the Australian Research Council (ARC), the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization (ADI), and the European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS).

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Photo: Matej Kastelic.

ECPS Academy Summer School — Populism and Foreign Policy: How Does Populist Politics Influence Foreign Affairs? (July 1-5, 2024) 

Are you passionate about global politics and understanding the dynamics that shape it? Are you looking for a way to expand your knowledge under the supervision of leading experts, seeking an opportunity to exchange views in a multicultural, multi-disciplinary environment, or simply in need of a few extra ECTS credits for your studies? Then, consider applying to ECPS Summer School. The European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS) is looking for young people for a unique opportunity to assess the relationship between populism and foreign policy in a five-day Summer School led by global experts from a variety of backgrounds. The Summer School will be interactive, allowing participants to hold discussions in a friendly environment among themselves in small groups and exchange views with the lecturers. You will also participate in a Case Competition on the same topic, a unique experience to develop problem-solving skills in cooperation with others and under tight schedules. 


Populism has often been studied as a subject of political science and investigated as a topic of domestic affairs, namely party politics and elections. Nevertheless, a growing body of literature suggests that this phenomenon is not confined to the borders of nation-states; it interferes with international relations thanks to populist leaders’ desire to shape foreign affairs with a populist and mostly revisionist view. Trump’s threats to withdraw the US from NATO, Modi’s handling of India’s relations with Pakistan, Erdogan’s diaspora politics towards European countries, Orban’s instrumentalization of migration in the EU, Netanyahu’s approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Johnson’s management of the Brexit process and numerous attempts by populist leaders to undermine or subvert international or supranational organizations, such as the UN, WTO, and EU, are among many examples that showcase how external relations can be blended with populism. 

Considering the current political landscape in which the number of populist figures is on the rise, we may witness more similar instances in the international political arena in the period to come. Populism in international relations has the potential to complicate existing problems, create new ones and bring about repercussions for the multilateral liberal global system. This outlook urges scholars and policy-makers to understand the interwoven relationship between populism and external relations more deeply and take into account the populist dimension of problems while crafting solutions to interstate issues. 

Against the background explained above, at the ECPS Summer School this year, we would like to look at populism from an international relations perspective. To this end, we will discuss the theoretical background of the interplay between populism and foreign affairs and examine a number of case studies from different parts of the world with a view to see similarities as well as differences between the ways populist leaders craft external politics. 

The program will take place on Zoom, consisting of two sessions each day. Over the course of five days, interactive lectures by world-leading practitioners and experts will discuss the nexus between populism and foreign policy. The lectures are complemented by small group discussions and Q&A sessions moderated by experts in the field. The final program with the list of speakers will be announced soon. 

Moreover, as last year, the Summer School will comprise a Case Competition on a real-life problem within the broad topic of populism and foreign policy. Participants will be divided into teams to work together on solving the case and are expected to prepare policy suggestions. The proposals of the participants will be evaluated by a panel of scholars and experts based on criteria such as creativity, feasibility, and presentation skills. 

Our five-day schedule offers young people a dynamic, engaging, and interdisciplinary learning environment with an intellectually challenging program presented by world-class scholars of populism, allowing them to grow as future academics, intellectuals, activists and public leaders. Participants have the opportunity to develop invaluable cross-cultural perspectives and facilitate a knowledge exchange that goes beyond European borders. 


Day 1: Populism and International Relations: A Theoretical Overview 

Day 2: Populism, Conflicts and International Courts

Day 3: Populism, Sharp Power, Peace and Security

Day 4: Populism and the EU Foreign Policy 

Day 5: Showcases: USA, Turkey, India, Israel and Brexit 

Who should apply? 

This unique course is open to master’s and PhD level students and graduates, early career researchers and post-docs from any discipline. The deadline for submitting applications is June 21, 2024. The applicants should send their CVs to the email address with the subject line: ECPS Summer School Application. 

We value the high level of diversity in our courses, welcoming applications from people of all backgrounds. Since we have a limited quota, we suggest you apply soon to not miss this great opportunity. 

Evaluation Criteria and Certificate of Attendance 

Meeting the assessment criteria is required from all participants aiming to complete the program and receive a certificate of attendance. The evaluation criteria include full attendance and active participation in lectures. 

Certificates of attendance will be awarded to participants who attend at least 80% of the sessions. Certificates are sent to students only by email. 


This course is worth 5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you; however, please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.


Russian President Vladimir Putin observed amidst soldiers during the military parade in Belgrade, Serbia on October 16, 2014. Photo by Dimitrije Ostojic.

Mapping Global Populism – Panel XIII: Resurgence of Expansionist Tsarism: Populist Autocracy in Russia

Date/Time: Thursday, May 30, 2024 — 10:00-12:00 (CET)


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Dr. Richard Sakwa (Emeritus Professor of Russian and European Politics at University of Kent).


“Why Putin Is Not a Populist, But Worse,” by Dr. Luke March (Professor, Personal Chair of Post-Soviet and Comparative Politics at the University of Edinburg).

“Katechontintic Sovereignty of Z-Populism in Putin’s Russia,” by Dr. Aleksandra Yatsyk (Researcher at IRHIS-CNRS at the University of Lille and a lecturer at Sciences Po, France).

“‘Traditional values’: Gendered and (New)Imperial Dimensions in Russia,” by Dr. Yulia Gradskova (Associate Professor, Researcher at Södertörn University, Sweden).

“The Economic Costs of Autocracy in Putin’s Russia,” by Dr. Dóra Győrffy (Professor of Economy at Institute of Economics, Corvinus University of Budapest).


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Brief Bios and Abstracts

Dr. Richard Sakwa is an Emeritus Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent. He has been associated with the School since 1987, initially joining as a lecturer and subsequently being promoted to a professorship in 1996. Over the years, he held the position of Head of School twice, from 2001 to 2007 and then again from 2010 to 2014.

During his academic journey, Dr. Sakwa pursued his doctorate focusing on Moscow politics during the Civil War (1918-21). He enriched his research experience through a year-long British Council scholarship at Moscow State University (1979-80) and gained practical insights by working for two years in Moscow at the ‘Mir’ Science and Technology Publishing House. Prior to his tenure at the University of Kent, he lectured at the University of Essex and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In addition to his academic roles, Dr. Sakwa holds various esteemed positions in the academic and research community. He served as an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and an Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Moscow State University. Since September 2002, he has been a member of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences.

Dr. Sakwa’s research interests encompass a wide range of topics, including political developments in Russia, international politics and the Second Cold War, the nature of post-communist political orders, prospects for socialism, global challenges facing former communist countries, and issues related to European and global order.

Dr. Sakwa has published widely on Soviet, Russian, post-communist and international affairs. Recent books include Putin Redux: Power and Contradiction in Contemporary Russia (London and New York, Routledge, 2014), Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (London, I. B. Tauris, 2016), Russia against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order(Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Russia’s Futures (Cambridge, Polity, 2019). His book The Putin Paradox, was published by I. B. Tauris (Bloomsbury) in 2020 and his Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War came out with Lexington Books in late 2021. His latest book is The Lost Peace: How the West Failed to Prevent a Second Cold War, Yale University Press.

Why Putin Is Not a Populist, But Worse

Dr. Luke March is Professor of Post-Soviet and Comparative Politics at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include the politics of the European (radical) Left, Russian domestic and foreign politics, nationalism, populism, radicalism and extremism in Europe and the former Soviet Union. His books include The Communist Party in Post-Soviet Russia (2002), Radical Left Parties in Europe (2011) and Europe’s Radical Left. From Marginality to the Mainstream? (edited with Daniel Keith, 2016). His latest publication (edited, with Fabien Escalona and Daniel Keith) is The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Left Parties in Europe (2023). 

Abstract: Russian President Vladimir Putin often presents an inscrutable, Sphinx-like image. A controversial label often applied is populism – but for all who see him as a quintessential populist, as many people vehemently disagree. Looking more closely at his ‘populism’ reveals much about his politics. Putin is no populist, but rather a statist and (imperialist) nationalist, who uses ideologies (including populism) selectively. The implications of this are more troubling than if he were simply a populist.

Katechontintic Sovereignty of Z-Populism in Putin’s Russia

Dr. Alexandra Yatsyk is a researcher at IRHIS-CNRS at the University of Lille, and a lecturer at Sciences Po, France. Her expertise covers post-Soviet nation-building, populism, illiberalism, mega-events and biopolitics. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including  co-authored the Critical biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: from Population to Nation (Lexington, 2019), Lotman’s Cultural Semiotics and the Political (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017), the co-edited Mega-Events in Post-Soviet Eurasia: Shifting Borderlines of Inclusion and Exclusion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), New and Old Vocabularies of International Relations After the Ukraine Crisis (Routledge, 2016), and Boris Nemtsov and Russian Politics: Power and Resistance (Ibidem Verlag & Columbia University, 2018).

Abstract: In February 2024, two years after Russian full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, a number of US media alarmed – with references to the US Intelligence Service – about Russia’s possible plans on installation of a nuclear weapon in space. According to the media, in doing so, the Kremlin is pursuing to destroy the US satellites, which lend assistance to Ukrainian forces. The news seriously disquieted the US officials, who considered Kremlin’s development a violation of the 1967 Outer Space. The Treaty prohibits orbiting any nuclear weapon and its contravention will entail the catastrophic consequences for the world. Russia’s President Putin commented the news is erroneous, saying that his country neither has the nuclear weapon in space no has any plans to deploy it.

This case is an example of the nuclear debate on Russia’s sovereignty and security, that goes back to the Cold War era, and which Putin rearticulated in his speech at the Münich Security Conference in February 2007. In Putin’s words, a nuclear weapon and Orthodoxy are two shields of Russian security at home and abroad. During the following decades, the image of Russia as a world power and a hotbed of the Orthodox values, ready to defend its political and spiritual sovereignty with arm and faith, had been extensively proliferated by the state, Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and popular culture.

This paper reveals the Putinist populist narratives on Russian messianic imperialism of “two security shields” that have been circulating in works of Russian Z-singers since Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. I raise the question on what do the Russian Z-patriots sing on Russia’s security to the millions of Russian civilians and Putin’s combatants? What messages on external and internal threats do they send to the Russian population through their songs? How do they aestheticize and normalize the war in Ukraine? I approach the issues in terms of political theology within the IR debate on the katechontic sovereignty.

‘Traditional values’: Gendered and (New)Imperial Dimensions in Russia

Dr. Yulia Gradskova is Associate Professor in History and researcher at the Department of Gender Studies; she also works as Research Coordinator at the Center for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University (Sweden). Her research interests include Soviet and post-Soviet social and gender history, decolonial perspective on Soviet politics of emancipation of “woman of the East,” maternalism and transnational history. Currently she is PI in the project “Maternity in the time of ‘traditional values’ and femonationalism” (supported by the Östersjöstiftelsen). Her last book is The Women’s International Democratic Federation, the Global South and the Cold War. Defending the Rights of Women of the ‘Whole World’? (Routledge 2021). Gradskova is the author of Soviet Politics of Emancipation of Ethnic Minority Women. Natsionalka (Springer, 2018) and co-editor of several books, including Gendering Postsocialism. Old Legacies and New Hierarchies (Routledge 2018, with Ildiko Asztalos Morell).

Abstract: While Putin’s government presents “traditional values” as a genuine value system based on social cohesion that can “save” Russia and guarantee social harmony and peace, in my presentation I will show these ideas as affecting individual rights and freedoms of several categories of citizens of the Russian Federation and used for gathering popular support for the new imperialist Russian war on Ukraine. The adopted already in 2013 law on so called “propaganda of LGBT for minors” was amended recently and from January 2024 everything that can be associated with the LGBTQ+ can lead to accusation in extremism. Using declarations about “demographic crises” in Russia Putin’s government is making efforts to further restrict abortion while gender research is practically banned from universities While sometimes the “traditional values” are presented as a set of ideas propagated first of all by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), in practice, “traditional values” are supported and distributed by several different actors, only some of who were closely associated with the ROC. The narrowing distance between these actors happened with the open support of the state, with the aim of controlling the reproductive capacities of women’s bodies and social reproduction for strengthening Russia’s geopolitical position in the world. In my presentation I will show how the state-created and state-supported women’s organizations in Russia are also used for distributing conservative ideas and contributing to the new (imperial) patriotism and support of the militarism.

The Economic Costs of Autocracy in Putin’s Russia

Dóra Győrffy is Professor at the Institute of Economics at Corvinus University of Budapest. She holds a BA in Government from Harvard University (Class of 2001), an MA (2003) and PhD (2006) in International Relations and European Studies from the Central European University and a Doctor of Science degree in Economics (2015) from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is Chair of the Economics Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2021-). Her research focuses on issues of international political economy with a particular focus on the post-communist member states. She is the author of four monographs including Institutional Trust and Economic Policy (CEU Press, 2012) as well as Trust and Crisis Management in the European Union (Palgrave, 2018). She has published over 70 scholarly articles and book chapters in English and Hungarian most recently ”The Middle-Income Trap in Central and Eastern Europe in the 2010s: Institutions and divergent growth models” in Comparative European Politics (2022) and ”Neo-Backwardness and Prospects for Long-term Growth: The effects of Western sanctions on Russia and the changing embeddedness of Ukraine in the world economy” in Madlovics, B. and Magyar, B. eds.: Russia’s Imperial Endeavor and Its Geopolitcal Consequences, CEU Press (2023). 

Abstract: The presentation examines the long-term economic consequences of Western sanctions on Russia, portraying a bleak outlook for the country’s economic future. The sanctions have led to a significant decline in access to Western capital, loss of intellectual inputs, and the exit of multinational corporations and skilled individuals. This has fundamentally altered Russia’s economic trajectory, making it asymmetrically dependent on China and hindering its prospects for economic prosperity. The chapter underscores the lasting impact of the sanctions on Russia’s economic fundamentals and its trajectory towards becoming a neo-backward country.


Workshop – The Interplay Between Migration and Populist Politics Across Europe Ahead of European Parliament Elections

Key Dates

Paper abstract submission: December 22, 2023. 

Decision about abstract acceptance: January 15, 2024.

Submission of draft papers due: April 19, 2024.

Workshop: First Day In Person: May 22, 2024 at Oxford University / Second Day Virtual: May 23, 2024.

Populism & Politics (P&P) is a digital journal dedicated to advancing the study and understanding of populism-related phenomena and populist challenges in historical and contemporary contexts. 

Migration, with its multifaceted socio-economic and political implications on voting behavior, stands at the nexus of the factors that have fueled the demand for populism in Europe and beyond. As the 2024 European Parliamentary elections approach, comprehending the trends in voting behavior and the role of immigration-related populism necessitates an interdisciplinary approach. To this end, P&P invites scholars, researchers, policymakers, and civil rights advocates to engage in a workshop looking into the interplay between populism and migration.

The central theme of the workshop revolves around elections and anti-immigration populism in the European context. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

Impact of Migration on Voter Behavior: Examine the influence of refugee flows and migrant populations in the EU member countries on voting patterns, party preferences, and electoral results. Case studies from both individual EU countries and groups of countries are encouraged.

Integration Policies and Political Effects: Investigate the relationship between different approaches to immigrant integration (e.g., multiculturalism vs. assimilation) and their political consequences, including support for populist radical right (PRR) parties.

The Role of (Social) Media in Shaping Migration Politics: Examine how media coverage and political/populist discourse on migration issues influence public opinion and political decision-making, particularly in the context of populism.

Migrant Political Participation: Explore the political engagement and participation of migrants, including their involvement in local politics, voter turnout, and the emergence of migrant-led political movements, and investigate those movements’ stances vis-à-vis populist politics. 

Nationalism and Anti-Migrant Sentiment: Investigate the impact of nationalist ideologies and anti-migrant sentiment on electoral politics in different European countries and regions.

Immigrant Political Mobilization: Study the strategies and effectiveness of immigrant-led advocacy groups and political movements in counteracting anti-immigrant policies, both at national and EU levels.

Migration and Welfare State Politics: Analyze how immigration affects the design and sustainability of welfare state policies, including debates about social benefits, welfare chauvinism, and access to healthcare for migrants, and in this context, explore the impact of populist discourses on welfare state policies.

Asylum Policies and Populist Discourse: Examine the relationship between asylum policies, populist rhetoric, and public opinion, particularly regarding the acceptance or rejection of refugees.

Border Security and Political Agendas: Investigate how populist narratives and debates over border security, border controls, and border crises shape the political agendas of European governments and parties.

Election Campaign Strategies on Migration: Analyze how political parties use migration issues in their election campaigns, including framing policies and campaign rhetoric.

The European Union and Migration Governance: Examine the EU’s role in shaping migration policies across member states and the impact of EU decisions on national politics with regard to populist anti-migrant policies in member states. 

Local Politics and Migration: Investigate the role of local governments and municipal policies in addressing populist anti-immigrant discourse.

Populist Discourse and Gendered Othering: Analyze how populist discourse constructs and reinforces gendered “othering” of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and its implications for policy and public opinion.

Migrant Women’s Political Mobilization: Study the role of migrant women in political movements and advocacy efforts, addressing gender-specific issues and advocating for gender equality within migration policies in a populist era.

Gender and Populist Party Support: Examine what kind of role gender plays in support of anti-immigrant populist parties, including populist appeals to different gender groups.

Selected papers will undergo expert review and receive constructive feedback before and during the workshop. After the workshop, authors will be asked to revise their papers for publication in Populism and Politics (P&P).

The deadline for submitting the paper abstract (400-600 words) and a bio (max. 400 words) is Friday, December 22, 2023. Draft papers are expected to be submitted by Friday, April 19, 2024. The workshop will be a one-day event in Brussels on 16 May 2024. 

For submissions, please contact:

For guidelines and additional information, please visit: