CFP: Tracing Populism in the U.S. and Comparative Perspective

CAAS (Croatian Association for American Studies) announces a Call for Papers for its 9th annual workshop, Tracing Populism in the U.S. and Comparative Perspective. The 2021 workshop will be hosted by the University of Zadar and will take place in Zadar, Croatia, on September 25, 2021. This year’s key-note speaker is Liam Kennedy (University College Dublin). The deadline for submission of abstracts is June 1, 2021.

The topic of this year’s American Studies workshop is populism. Currently easily the central term in political debates, populism is equally applied to opposite poles of the ideological spectrum. As a social phenomenon, it is perceived as a dangerous anomaly, a symptom of crisis of political legitimacy, especially of liberal democracies. In the last decade, it has been associated with people’s mass, but misguided reactions to austerity policies and the general precarization that followed the 2008 economic crisis. The “migrant crisis” in Europe and the global pandemic are said to further contribute to the populist trend. Populism thus presents us with a curious problem, namely, that the main threat to the present-day “rule of the people” comes from “the people” themselves. Populist mobilizations and populist politics — internationally present, but confined to national contexts — are therefore often qualified as “authoritarian” or “illiberal.” The situation in the USA (the focus of our interest) both conforms to the above depiction and shows some distinctive features, since populism in the USA has a longer history, with roots in the complex late-19th c. agrarian and labor movements that called for a “democracy of producers.” To these political and historical perspectives, we would like to add a cultural one, and ask the following questions: What is at stake in discussions of populism? How do the common binaries involved in our understanding of populism hold up to closer scrutiny (e.g. “the people” vs. “the elite”)? Who are “the people” and how are they represented? What does populism tell us about liberalism, capitalism, and democracy? What are the technologies of populist mobilization? What kinds of affect does populism imply or demand? What sorts of cultural codes and symbolic practices are operative in populist contexts?

With these initial questions in mind, we invite contributions that would tackle any of the following problems (or add other relevant ones), both in the U.S.-American context and in comparative perspective:

conceptualizing populism
populism in historical perspective
populism and crisis
constructing “the people”
liberalism and populism
democracy and populism
political economy of populism
populism as political practice
populism and capitalism
nativism, nationalism and populism
populism and class
populism and race/ethnicity
gender of populism
populism and austerity
populist sentiments, populist affects
populism in literature
performing populism
aesthetic populism
populism and the media
populism and the Internet
populism and nostalgia
populism and manipulation
populism and (dis)information
fear of the masses
“enemies” of the people
representation and authenticity
moral economy of populism
conspiracy theories
populism and identity politics

Titles and abstracts of 15-minute presentations, accompanied by one-paragraph CV, should be sent to the workshop organizers by June 1, 2021, to all the following e-mails: Dr. Marko Lukić (, Dr. Sven Cvek (, and Dr. Jelena Šesnić ( Notifications of acceptance will be sent by June 15, 2021.

Due to public health emergency, we will plan for the following contingencies — that the workshop take place partly on site and partly on-line, or fully on-line. The final decision will be announced as the workshop date approaches. We will make every possible effort to accommodate our participants, both local and international.

The workshop fee is 150 HRK (20 Euros). The fee is waived for the members in good standing of CAAS and of the AASSEE founding associations.

A selection of presentations will be published in a peer-reviewed, open access publication Working Papers in American Studies (hosted by the FF Open Press platform).