Call for Papers: ISA2018 Populist Nationalism & the New Authoritarianism

Call for Papers: ISA2018 Populist Nationalism & the New Authoritarianism

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Two linked panels on Populist Nationalism and the New Authoritarianism

contact Prof Emeritus Martin O. Heisler at to submit an abstract for consideration (200 words max). 

Panel 1

Populist Nationalism and the New Authoritanism I:
Internal Sources and Cross-state Diffusion

Proposed by Martin O. Heisler, University of Maryland

Beneath and beyond the headlines, there is growing systematic evidence of the erosion of democratic politics and governance in all world regions.  As data in the 2017 report of the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg show, “in the last ten years, a number of countries have declined noticeably in terms of democracy.”  These developments reflect classic challenges for comparative analysis, such as Galton’s Problem, and call for the consideration of the interplay of domestic and cross-national factors.  (A companion panel focuses on implications for transnational and international relations.)

The papers on this panel explore the influences that foster newly energized populist nationalism, authoritarian tendencies and “illiberal democracy” and connections across these phenomena in a diverse range of countries.  Links between internal social and political developments and economic changes in the past 25-30 years, including those associated with globalization, are examined.  We look at systems in which transitions to democracy from recent non-democratic pasts failed to consolidate democratic norms and institutions despite such positive indicators as consecutive peaceful elections and transfers of power.  The rise of such or similar forces in well-established, institutionalized democracies is also considered.

Panel 2

Populist Nationalism and the New Authoritarianism II:
Transnational and International Implications

Proposed by Martin O. Heisler, University of Maryland

Populist nationalism has been stimulated by, and has in turn affected, a wide array of international and transnational changes during the past 100 years.  The end of empires and the formation of new or newly autonomous states lead to efforts to define identitive boundaries or to revivify national identity.  Demands for boundary changes, exclusion or discrimination against cultural or ethnic minorities in the population often arise during the formation or consolidation of national states, as may pressures to incorporate or at least establish extensive ties with national kin in neighboring states.  More recently, large-scale migration, coupled with the advent of multiple citizenship and voting rights for expatriates, has also affected relations between states.

Populist nationalism is frequently associated with the emergence of authoritarian leadership styles and regimes.  While the thrust of such nationalism is toward the society, authoritarian leaders often strive to enhance their legitimacy through links to those in other states.  Such efforts may include challenges to established patterns of international relations including international organizations and law, intergovernmental agreements and non-governmental organizations.  The papers on this panel examine recent developments and their implications for international and transnational relations.