National Populism in Eastern Europe

While the Latin American and North American origins of the current populist political trends are well-known, the relationship between the nineteenth century East European tradition of populism, its transformation in the twentieth century, and the current resurgence of populism in the region remains an understudied problem. While national populism is conventionally considered as a variety of authoritarian nationalism, its complex relationship with various ideological trends and social movements (including liberal, socialist, and anarchist) is often ignored. In this course we will explore the intellectual, social and cultural history of broadly defined national populism trying to locate it on the changing ideological map of Eastern Europe. In particular, we will trace down the long-lasting entanglement of populism and nationalism in the region.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will learn how to analyze the ideological representation of social agenda in various changing historical contexts, how to apply transnational and comparative approaches to the study of entangled political projects (in this case, nationalism and populism) in the region of Eastern and Central Europe, and how to deconstruct nationalist and populist claims of the current illiberal politicians in the region. By focusing on the East European roots of national populism, the course shall provide deeper understanding of mechanisms of populist and nationalist imagination and mass mobilization.

Course Requirements

·       Regular preparation and active participation in the discussions in classroom (30% of the final grade)

·       Oral presentation in the class (30% of the final grade). Each student is expected to give a presentation (max. 15-20 minutes) addressing one of the topics listed in the course schedule. Presentations should provide a summary and critical review of one or two of the listed additional readings or present a special case of a convergence of nationalism with populism in the region under consideration. In addition to the presentation, two or three questions might be prepared for discussion during the class.

·       Final Paper or “open-book exam” (40% of the final grade). At the end of the course students are expected to either write an 3000-4000 words long essay or to take an “open-book exam.” Students should choose the topic of their final paper and discuss it with the instructor by 10 March, otherwise they shall prepare for the exam (the questions will be announced in advance). The essay might be based on the materials discussed during the oral presentation in the class.