The Perils of Populism: Feminist Conversations

Each year, IRW's distinguished lecture series presents a variety of talks showcasing interdisciplinary work on women, gender and sexuality by a variety of eminent speakers. The lecture series revolves around an annual theme that is also shared by our interdisciplinary seminar and undergraduate learning community. In 2017-18 our annual theme is "The Perils of Populism: Feminist Conversations."

Thursday, October 5, 2017
"From Progressive Neoliberalism to Reactionary Populism? Distribution, Recognition, and the Crisis of Hegemony"
Nancy Fraser (The New School for Social Research)

Image of Nancy Fraser

We are currently facing a severe crisis of political authority: a dramatic weakening of the credibility of established political classes, parties, and the commonsense that underpinned them. I chart the eruption of progressive and reactionary populisms in 2016 after a period in which neoliberalism left many Americans without a voice. I also map the unfolding of Trump’s presidency as a hyper-reactionary neoliberalism. Looking at the current “resistance,” I suggest we are stranded in an interregnum in which, quoting Gramsci, “the old is dying and the new cannot be born.”

Thursday, November 2, 2017
"Organizing, Resisting, Surviving"
Kenyon Farrow (activist,writer), L.A. Kauffman (author, organizer), and Robyn Magalit Rodriguez (University of California, Davis)

Images of "Organizing, Resisting, Surviving" panelistsFrom the massive Women’s March on Washington, to groups like Indivisible and immigrant rights efforts, in recent months we have seen an extraordinary outpouring of popular resistance. This panel brings together experts on social movements who are also activists to probe the history of grassroots organizing, the uses of different strategies (such as marches, boycotts, direct action, and community organizing), and how to best get involved.

Thursday, November 16, 2017
"Truth, Power, and the Media"
Jessie Daniels (Hunter College), Sarah Leonard (The Nation), and Bilge Yesil (College of Staten Island)

Images of "Truth, Power, and the Media" panelistsThough journalism has never been a transparent window to the truth, the rise of the Internet, the proliferation of “fake news,” and a presidential administration that seeks to discredit the press, call for fresh understandings of the relationship between truth and power. It is possible to distinguish “real” from “fake” news in the digital age? How can we use the tools at our disposal to invigorate a democratic public sphere?

Thursday, December 7, 2017
"Discursive Dispossessions: Gender as a Resource for the Construction of Authoritarian Us/Them Dichotomies"
Sabine Hark (Technical University of Berlin)

Image of Sabine HarkNeo-authoritarian movements simultaneously reject, attack and discredit notions of gender while reclaiming them. We see this in Germany today, where the right uses the discourse of “anti-genderism” to construct racist, neo-authoritarian us/them-dichotomies. This talk explores the paradoxical ways right-wing critics discredit Gender Studies for not being a “proper” academic discipline, while using gendered appeals.

Thursday, March 1, 2018
"Angry White Men"
Michael Kimmel (Stony Brook University)

Image of Michael KimmelIn this illustrated presentation, Michael Kimmel develops an intersectional analysis of the extreme right wing. Based on interviews with White Nationalists in the US and ex-neo-Nazi skinheads in Sweden, he looks at class background and racial ideologies through the prism of gender, and discusses the ways that gender—masculinity—provides a critical lens through which to understand both how young men get into extremist movements and how they can get out.

Thursday, April 5, 2018
"The Perils and Paradoxes of Hindu Nationalism"
Amrita Basu, Amherst College

Image of Amrita Basu Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who heads the current Hindu nationalist government in India, is extremely popular, despite his failure to execute economic reforms, his assault on democratic freedoms and violence against minorities. Some attribute his appeal to his appropriation of religious and political traditions embodied by Mahatma Gandhi. But if Gandhi personified nonviolence and androgyny, Modi personifies violent masculinity. How can we account for Modi’s appeal? How might a gender analysis aid in resisting his dominance?


All talks are free and open to the public and will be held at the Ruth Dill Johnson Crockett Building, 162 Ryders Lane, Douglass Campus, Rutgers-New Brunswick at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a 4 p.m. reception.


Download the 2017-18 Distinguished Lecture Series Poster