Populism, Gender and Feminist Politics: Between Backlash and Resistance
Photographer Michele Lapini ©
Organizers: Manuela Caiani, Francesca Feo (SNS)
Keynotes lectures: Eva Anduiza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Andrea Krizsán (Central European University).
In the present context of social insecurity and political realignment, populist parties and movements are everywhere on the rise, both on the left and on the right. In the abundant literature now available in the field of populism studies, there is increasing attention to the complex relationship between populism, gender and feminist politics. This 2-days international conference wants to provide a space to deepen the discussion around the diverse ways in which gender is constructed, mobilized and contested in the populist political moment.
Benefiting from a widespread sense of crisis, the populist surge also confronts neoliberal hegemony. While left-wing populism rails against economic neoliberalism, the populist right is mounting an attack on neoliberal culture, in which anti-feminism takes centre stage. As Nancy Fraser describes, ‘authoritarian populism’ takes aim at a regime of ‘progressive neoliberalism’, a form of elitist liberalism that managed to co-opt and disarm the emancipatory agenda put forward by the New Social Movements since the 1970s. This diagnosis has been contested, but it raises interesting questions about the position of feminism in the populist dichotomy between the establishment and the people.
In recent years, the populist radical right has appropriated the conservative agenda on gender issues, sponsoring patriarchal social relations and heteronormativity through masculinist tropes, maternalist policies as well as by joining, supporting or creating anti-gender mobilizations. Often, gender and religion have been used as criteria to identify the people of the ‘heartland’ and the outsider groups, in what Sara Farris calls ‘femonationalism’. Also, anti-gender issues create a common ground for the creation of transnational (populist) radical right identities and movements, overcoming the constraints to internationalization processes posed by the nationalist core value of radical right ideology.
The conference will addresses these issues and topics with empirical as well as theoretical contributions from various countries, European and beyond.