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Workshop on Ideology and the Authoritarian Turn in Global Politics

Tuesday 13th June 2nd-3rd 2023 9:30-18:00

The Forum, Seminar Rooms 10 and 11, Uniersity of Exeter


Organized by

Center for Advanced International Studies, Center for Political Thought, Authoritarianism Research Network


Modern authoritarian systems have often been described as 'post-ideological'. This idea of authoritarian systems as lacking a strong ideological basis has long historical roots. In this workshop we challenge this approach and aim to revive interest in the ideological and ideational drivers of contemporary authoritarianism, reflecting a wider turn to ideology in recent work on law, politics and international relations. Themes we expect to discuss include the overlap between contemporary authoritarianism and modern populism, the influence of radical conservative and illiberal ideas, and the mechanisms of ideological diffusion across borders. In the workshop we will explore these dynamics in different contexts:

  • The role of ideology in specific political regimes, such as Russia and China, and its impact on the relationship between state and society;
  • The nexus between law and politics in contemporary authoritarianism;
  • Transnational aspects, including ideational flows between authoritarian regimes and their diasporas, and their ideological ties to illiberal/extremist political movements in constitutional democracies.

We will discuss new theoretical and methodological approaches to these questions from an interdisciplinary perspective.




09:15-09:30 Welcome and opening remarks

09:30-10:45: Panel I: New Approaches to Authoritarianism (I) (Chair: David Lewis)

  • Thomas Heberer (University of Duisburg-Essen): China, civilizing processes, discipline
  • Catherine Owen (University of Exeter) and Xuan Qin (Fudan University): CCP ideology shaping public sector at grassroots level in urban China

10:45-11:00: Coffee break


11:00-12:15: Panel II: New Approaches to Authoritarianism (II) (Chair: John Heathershaw)

  • Fiona Adamson (SOAS): Diasporic Geopolitics and the Rise of the Global South
  • Alex Dukalkis (University College Dublin): Authoritarian Snapback: How Dictatorships Tame the Spread of Democratic Ideas

12:15-13:30: Lunch


13:30-15:00: Roundtable I: Law, Policy and Politics (Chair: Dario Castiglione)

  • Stephen Skinner (Exeter, Law): Law, Fascism, democracy
  • Marc Valeri (Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies): Legitimacy in authoritarian regimes
  • Nelly Bekus (Exeter, History): Soviet and Post-Soviet history, nationalism, memory and identity
  • Stephane Baele (Exeter, Politics): Online extremism, far-right propaganda

15:00-15:30: Coffee Break


15:30-17:00: Roundtable II: International and Transnational Politics (Chair: Gregorio Bettiza)

  • David Lewis (Exeter, Politics): Russia, conservative ideology, foreign policy
  • Xianan Jin (Exeter, Politics): Neoliberal authoritarianism and street vendors in Rwanda
  • Kevork Oskanian (Exeter, Politics): Russia, Africa, democracy, contestation
  • Irene Fernandez Molina (Exeter, Politics): Morocco, authoritarian contestation, liberal democratic norms and the influence of the EU

17:00-17:15: Break

17:15-18:00: Roundtable III: Concluding Reflections on Ideology and the Authoritarian Turn (Chair: Catherine Owen, Bice Maiguashca)

19:30: Dinner

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