ECPS Book Talks — The Attractions of Populist Nationalism: Insights from Anthropological Fieldwork Amongst the Radical Right (April 29, 2021)

UKIP's Brexit Betrayal Rally in London with Tommy Robinson and Gerard Batten on September 09, 2018.

During this ECPS event, Dr. Cathrine Thorleifsson will discuss her book Nationalist responses to the crises in Europe together with Sabine Voss, who researches the political culture of far-right populist grassroots politics in post-socialist eastern Germany. 

In her book, Dr. Thorleifsson examines the drivers and local appeal of populist nationalism. Based on multi-sited anthropological fieldwork in England, Hungary and Norway, she explores the various material conditions, historical and social contexts that shape resentment of elites, migrants and diversity. Combining analysis of the discourses propagated by radical right parties such as UKIP and Jobbik with an analysis of the hopes and concerns of supporters, Thorleifsson develops wider conclusions about how populist nationalism is enlivened and reconfigured in response to destabilizing crises of economy, culture and displacement. 

Date and Time: Thursday, April 29, 2021, 7 PM CEST

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Cathrine Thorleifsson is a Researcher at the Centre for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo. Cathrine holds a PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2012). She has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork amongst supporters of the populist, radical right in Europe and Israel. The past decade she has been researching and writing on nationalism, belonging, racisms and far right politics. Her recent books include: Nationalist Responses to the Crises in Europe: Old and New Hatreds (Routledge 2019) and Nationalism and the Politics of Fear in Israel (I.B. Tauris 2015). Dr. Thorleifsson has studied Arabic at the University of Damascus and Hebrew at the University of Haifa. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. In addition to her academic pursuits, Dr. Thorleifsson has carried out consultancy work for the UNDP, the World Bank, the European Commission and a number of ministries on the dynamics of far-right radicalization. Dr. Thorleifsson frequently provides expert analysis for policy makers as well as print and broadcast media.

Sabine Volk is a PhD candidate at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and Early Stage Researcher in the EU Horizon2020 project “Delayed transformational fatigue in Central and Eastern Europe: Responding to the rise of illiberalism/populism (FATIGUE)”. Volk’s dissertation explores the political culture of far-right populist grassroots politics in post-socialist eastern Germany, focusing on dimensions such as ideology, memory, and the ritualization of public protest. She has conducted several months of ethnographic fieldwork in the context of the Dresden-based “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident” (PEGIDA) movement, including online ethnography of virtual protest events. Volk has published in journals such as German Politics and Politique Européenne, and blogs on Open Democracy, LSE Europe,, amongst others. Prior to her PhD, Volk obtained two MA’s in European Studies: one from the Erasmus Mundus Programme of Excellence ‘Euroculture’ and one from the College of Europe. Previous places of study and research include Tübingen, Groningen, Strasbourg, Indianapolis and Warsaw.

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