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Populism and the Past

Forthcoming Special Issue encouraging cross-disciplinary paper proposals

Deadline for submission of article proposals
31 January 2020

The past is a recurrent theme in public discussions on populism. Time and again observers evoke analogies between contemporary populism and historical experiences, or attribute populist successes to longstanding traits of a political culture. Populists themselves often claim to be the heirs to alleged historical traditions, and use old buzzwords, tropes, and appeals to a more or less embellished past.

In scholarly work, however, the connection between populism and the past remains underexplored. While classic work (such as that of Canovan and Laclau) highlighted the historical and, to some extent, cyclical nature of populism, only more recently have scholars begun to examine the past explicitly as an explanatory factor in contemporary populism (e.g. Mammone 2009; Finchelstein 2017; Kelly 2017; Caramani and Manucci 2019).  These analyses, however, remain few and far between.

Journal of Contemporary European Studies

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This Special Issue for the Journal of Contemporary European Studies (JCES) aims to build on this emerging work to promote a comprehensive research agenda on the theme of populism and the past, driven by three objectives: a) improving our understanding of the factors guiding the emergence and evolution of populist movements, beyond the predominant “materialist vs culturalist” dichotomy; b) gaining a more fine-grained understanding of variants of populism, and their social and political implications; c) promoting synergies between different disciplinary approaches to populism, using history as a bridge between them.

The special issue is open to articles examining the various ways in which history, the past, and time have (had) a role in the development of contemporary European populism. Within this broad area, we are particularly interested in contributions that attempt one or more of the following:

  • Examine distal causal chains of institutional and/or cultural path dependence, which help account for contemporary populist manifestations and their variations;
  • Analyse the links between current populism and historical antecedents, for instance by tracing the effect of political and ideational legacies;
  • Explore the role played by the past through the mediation of collective memory, and its mobilization (and/or distortion) by populists.

Articles should focus primarily on European cases. Comparative analyses are especially welcome, as are proposals that expand beyond the traditional foci of studies of populism (for instance by looking at trans- or sub-national cases). Contributions are encouraged from a wide range of academic fields, including political science, political history, history of ideas, political sociology, social anthropology and memory studies.

Submission guidelines

Please send your article proposals to: p.d.tortola@rug.nl no later than 31 January 2020, to whom informal enquiries can also be made.

Full articles should subsequently be submitted via the journal’s ScholarOne Manuscripts site, where you will be asked to identify your article as a Special Issue article from the category selection list. Enquiries about the journal and the submission process should be addressed to the Editorial Assistant, Mary Cenci: jcesedassist@gmail.com

Articles should be around 6,000-8,000 words in length.

Editorial Information

Guest Editors:

Stefan Couperus, University of Groningen (s.couperus@rug.nl)

Pier Domenico Tortola, University of Groningen (p.d.tortola@rug.nl

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