• Date: 13-14th February 2020

  • Place: Tallinn University (Narva Road 29), room A-002

The aim of the conference was to promote a sophisticated debate on a subject that is fundamental for our time: populism. The conference especially discussed topics as populism and democracy deficits, populism, globalization and nationalism, and their possible implications for the European Union and more generally for the European integration process. We welcomed a highly prestigious pool of scholars (see Speakers below) whose presentations were meant to offer a sight for an articulate and challenging perspective to the issues at stake.

The conference had four sessions that all gave insight to populism as a phenomenon and its challenges from different perspectives.

Conference videos


Presenters' slideshows


Wednesday, 12th February

Thursday, 13th February

  • 09:30 – 10:00    Registration (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)
  • 10:00 – 10:30    Welcoming words

I session – Populism: What is it?, Chairman Indrek Grauberg

  • 10:30 – 11:00    Yves Mény – "The Populist Challenge to Democratic Politics”
  • 11:00 – 11:30    Bart van Klink – “Don’t Look Back in Anger: Liberal Democracy and the Populist Temptation”
  • 11:30 – 12:00    Coffee break (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)
  • 12:00 – 12:30    Philip Manow – “The Political Economy of Populism”
  • 12:30 – 13:00    Tõnu Viik – “Collective Emotions and Populist Politics”
  • 13:00 – 13:45    Discussion
  • 13:45 – 15:00    Pause

II session – Populism and democracy, Chairman Massimo La Torre

  • 15:00 – 15:30    Chantal Mouffe – “Populism and Radical Democracy"
  • 15:30 – 16:00    Stephan Kirste – “Populism as a Threat to Liberal Democracy”
  • 16:00 – 16:30    Coffee break (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)
  • 16:30 – 17:00    Paulina Ochoa Espejo – “Populism and Borders: The Boundaries of Democracy”
  • 17:00 – 17:30    Fernando Vallespín – “Populism and the Restructuring of the Public Sphere”
  • 17:30 – 18:15    Discussion

Friday, 14th February

  • 09:15 – 09:45    Registration (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)

III session – Populism and Globalization, Chairman Tõnu Viik 

  • 09:45 – 10:15    Jean-Francois Kervégan  – “Populism as a Phenomenon of De-differentiation”
  • 10:15 – 10:45    Mari-Liis Jakobson – “Transnational Populism from Below”
  • 10:45 – 11:15    Coffee break (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)
  • 11:15 – 11:45    Rein Müllerson – “Globalisation, the Nation-State and the Rise of Populism”
  • 11:45 – 12:15    Michael Wilkinson – “Authoritarian Liberalism and Authoritarian Populism: Opposition or Inflection?”
  • 12:15 – 13:00    Discussion
  • 13:00 – 14:15    Pause

IV session – An Age of Anger?, Chairman Daniele Monticelli

  • 14:15 – 14:45    John Keane – "The New Populism, the New Despotism and Strategies for Defending Democracy"
  • 14:45 – 15:15    Michelle Everson – "Technocracy versus Authoritarianism: the Anger of Exclusion”.
  • 15:15 – 15:45    Leif Kalev – “Populism and Political Renewal”
  • 15:45 – 16:15    Coffee break (Researchers’ Forum, Astra building)
  • 16:15 – 16:45    Mart Susi – “Populism in the Digital Domain: Meaning and Remedies”
  • 16:45 – 17:15    William Scheuerman – “Why Not Uncivil Disobedience?”
  • 17:15 – 18:00    Discussion
  • 18:00 – 18:15    Closing words 

Conference's working language is English.

The conference is free of charge, only registration is needed.

REGISTER HERE (Please register by 10th of February)

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Our conference venue, Tallinn, is named Lonely Planet's Best Value Destination of 2018. Please discover more here: www.visittallinn.ee

We are thankful for the French Institute in Estonia for support and cooperation! 


paulina.jpg Paulina Ochoa Espejo (Haverford): (MA, Essex; PhD, Johns Hopkins) is an Associate Professor of political science at Haverford College. Before joining Haverford, she was an Assistant Professor at Yale University and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of The Time of Popular Sovereignty: Process and the Democratic State (Penn State University Press, 2011), co–editor of the Oxford Handbook of Populism (OUP, 2017) and articles in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Political Philosophy and Journal of Politics among others. She’s currently finishing a book manuscript entitled On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place (OUP, Forthcoming).
michelle-everson.jpg Michelle Everson (London): Michelle Everson is a Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has researched widely across European law, combining elements of public law (citizenship) with the themes of private law (the market) (see, eg, (2014): ‘A Citizenship in Movement’, 5:5 German Law Journal 965-984). She is also an acknowledged expert on EU regulatory structures and risk regulation (see, eg. (2008): with Ellen Vos, Uncertain Risks Regulated, Routledge-Cavendish).
Jakobson.JPG Mari-Liis Jakobson (Tallinn): Associate Professor of Political Sociology at Tallinn University and currently a visiting research scholar at the MacMillan Center, Yale University. Her research spans the topics of migration, transnationalism and populism. In 2012, she headed a research project on populism in the Baltic States, in 2014, she defended her PhD on transnational citizenship. She is also an expert in the GLOBALCIT network. Currently, she is researching transnationalism of populist parties, euroscepticism and political engagement of Estonians abroad. In 2013 and 2019, she also gave a special course on populism at Tallinn University.
Leif%20Kalev_0.jpg Leif Kalev (Tallinn): Professor of state and citizenship theory at Tallinn University. His research interests include citizenship, democracy, the state as a political community, the modes of its governance and also globalisation and transnationalisation. Prof. Kalev is the editor of book series Bibliotheca Politica in Tallinn University Press and of journal Acta Politica Estica special numbers. In 2019/20 Leif Kalev is a visiting research fellow at MacMillan Center for
International and Area Studies, Yale University, USA. His more recent publications include articles in International Journal of Public Policy and edited volumes published by Routledge and Springer. List of publicationsORCID ID
WZB_Jahresbericht_Dez_2015_1640-1.jpg John Keane (Sydney): Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB). He was recently Distinguished Professor at Peking University. He is renowned globally for his creative thinking about democracy. He has contributed to The New York TimesAl Jazeera, the Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Harper’s, the South China Morning Post and The Huffington Post. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. His books include the best-selling Tom Paine: A Political Life  (1995), Violence and Democracy  (2004), Democracy and Media Decadence (2013) and the highly acclaimed full-scale history of democracy, The Life and Death of Democracy  (2009). His most recent books are When Trees Fall, Monkeys Scatter: Rethinking Democracy in China (2017) and Power and Humility: The Future of Monitory Democracy (2018). The New Despotism will be published by Harvard University Press in May 2020.
Kervegan%20Jean-Francois.jpg Jean-Francois Kervégan (Paris): Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France. His research areas are the classical German philosophy (especially Hegel, Kant), the contemporary philosophy of law and political philosophy. Main books as an author: Explorations allemandes, Paris 2019; Variazioni Kelseniane, Napoli 2016; La raison des normes. Essai sur Kant, Paris 2015; Que faire de Carl Schmitt ?, Paris 2011 (translated in German, Italian, Spanish, Czech); L’effectif et le rationnel. Hegel et l’esprit objectif, Paris 2008 (translated in English, Chinese, German); Hegel et l’hégélianisme, Paris 32017 (translated in Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic); Hegel, Carl Schmitt. Le politique entre spéculation et positivité, Paris 22005 (translated in Spanish, Portuguese).
Stephan.jpg Stephan Kirste (Salzburg): University-professor for Legal and Social Philosophy at the Department for Business, Economics and Social Theory in the Faculty of Law of the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Austria. He is president of the German Section of the International Association for Legal and Social Philosophy (IVR). Promoted Dr. iur. at the University of Freiburg (Germany); Habilitation at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). His fields of interest concern in particular: Theory of jurisprudence (esp. interdisciplinarity of the science of law); Theory of law (esp. law and time); ethics of law (esp. human rights, human dignity, justice); Comparative constitutional law (esp. Brazil, USA); history of legal thought. – His main publications can be found here.
Philip%20Manow.jpeg Philip Manow (Bremen): Professor of comparative political economy at the University of Bremen, with previous appointments at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Konstanz, as well as research stays at Sciences Po (Paris), Center for European Studies (Harvard) and the Center for Advanced Studies in Berlin. He has published widely on Political Theory, Comparative Political Economy, European Integration, and the German political system. In his recent monograph 'The Political Economy of Populism'; he develops a comparative theory of populism in Europe.
Meny(2).jpg Yves Mény (Paris): Emeritus President of the European University (2002-09) and former President of the Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies in Pisa and IUSS, Pavia. He was elected Chair of the ECPR Executive Committee in 2000. His academic career includes positions in Rennes, Paris II, SciencesPo and the European University Institute. He has taught in many American and European Universities and is an Honorary member of the Irish Academy. He has published extensively in the field of French and Comparative Politics, Public Policies and Administration. Later on, his publications have focused on corruption and populism. His latest publications deal with European integration issues, in particular, the democratic deficit question and the tension between EU economic/monetary policies and national welfare and democratic systems. In 2019, his book on « Imperfect democracies » was simultaneously published in Italy and France (Il Mulino and Presses de SciencesPo).


Chantal Mouffe (London): Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster in London. She has taught and researched in many universities in Europe, North America and South America and she is a corresponding member of the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris. She is the editor of Gramsci and Marxist Theory (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1979), Dimensions of Radical Democracy. Pluralism, Citizenship, Community (Verso, London, 1992) Deconstruction and Pragmatism (Routledge, 1996)and The Challenge of Carl Schmitt, ( Verso, London, 1999); the co-author with Ernesto Laclau of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (Verso, London, 1985) and the author of The Return of the Political ( Verso, London, 1993) The Democratic Paradox (Verso, London, 2000) On the Political (Routledge. London, 2005), Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically (Verso, 2013), with Inigo Errejon, Podemos. In the Name of the People (Lawrence & Wishart, 2016) And For a Left Populism (Verso 2019).

Photo by Robbert Bodegraven.

Mu%CC%88llerson.png Rein Müllerson (Tallinn): Professor Emeritus at Tallinn University. In 2009-2017 he was the Rector of Tallinn University Nord, and President of the Law School and research Professor of Tallinn University. 1994-2009 he was Professor of International Law at King’s College, London. In 2004, on Sabbatical from King’s, he worked as the UN Regional Adviser for Central Asia. In 1992-94 he was Visiting Centennial Professor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1991-92 Müllerson was First Deputy Foreign Minister of Estonia and in 1988-92 a Member of the UN Human Rights Committee. Before that Müllerson worked as the Head of the Department of international law at the Institute of State and Law in Moscow and was Advisor to President Gorbachev of the USSR on international law. He is a graduate of the Law Faculty of Moscow University and holds PhD (1978) and Doctorate (1985) from that University. Since 1995 he is a Member of the Institut de Droit International. In 2013, in Tokyo, he was elected the President of the Institut de Droit International. He is fluent in Estonian, Russian, English and French. Professor Müllerson is the author of thirteen books on international law and politics and more than 200 articles and reviews. His latest books are International Law: Rights and Politics (Routledge 1994); Human Rights Diplomacy (Routledge, 1997); Ordering Anarchy: International Law in International Society (Kluwer Law International, 2000); Central Asia: A Chessboard and Player in the New Great Game (Kegan Paul, 2007 and second edition by Routledge in 2012); Democracy Promotion: Institutions, International Law and Politics, (The Hague Academy of International Law, Recueil des Cours, vol 333, 2008); Martinus Nijhoff Publishers; Democracy – A Destiny of Humankind: A Qualified, Contingent and Contextual Case for Democracy Promotion, NovaPublishers (New York), 2009 (in 2013 published also in Estonian by Tallinn University Press); Regime Change: From Democratic Peace Theories to Forcible Regime Changes, Brill, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (Leiden, Boston), 2013; Dawn of a New Order: Geopolitics and Clash of Ideologies (London, I.B. Tauris, 2017). He is the author of more than 300 academic articles.



William Scheuerman (Indiana): Bill Scheuerman's primary research and teaching interests are in modern political thought, German political thought, democratic theory, legal theory, and international political theory. After teaching at Pittsburgh and Minnesota, he joined the Indiana faculty in 2006. Bill’s most recent book is Civil Disobedience (Polity Press, 2018). He is also the author of Between the Norm and the Exception: The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law (MIT, 1994), which won two prestigious awards, as well as Carl Schmitt: The End of Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), Liberal Democracy and the Social Acceleration of Time (Johns Hopkins, 2004), Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy, and the Law (Routledge 2008), Hans J. Morgenthau: Realism and Beyond (Polity, 2009), and The Realist Case for Global Reform (Polity, 2011). He has edited The Rule of Law Under Siege (California, 1996), From Liberal Democracy to Fascism: Legal and Political Thought in the Weimar Republic (Humanities Press, 2000) (with Peter Caldwell), and High-Speed Society: Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity (Penn State, 2009) (with Hartmut Rosa). Bill has published in many professional journals, including Constellations, History of Political Thought, International Theory, Journal of Political Philosophy, Politics & Society, Review of International Studies, and Social Research. A recipient of numerous prestigious grants and fellowships, he serves on editorial boards for a number of journals, including Constellations, European Journal of Political Theory, International Relations, Journal of International Political Theory, Review of Politics, and Time & Society. Until recently, Bill was a North American Co-Director for an annual international conference for critical theorists held in Prague.
Mart%20Susi.jpeg Mart Susi (Tallinn): Has MA degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) and doctor iuris degree from the University of Tartu (Estonia). He has held senior positions in several academic institutions. Currently, he is heading the law program at Tallinn University and has the position of Professor of Human Rights Law. Mart Susi has initiated and is leading several research and development projects funded by the European Commission and the Nordic Council of Ministers. He has edited and is currently editing several research books on the topics of new human rights, the digital dimension of human rights and the controversy around the meaning of human rights. He is developing the Internet Balancing Formula and has lectured on the topic at various universities in Europe, Asia and South America. He is also involved as an expert for the European Commission and non-governmental organisations. 
BartvKlinkCU%20(2).jpeg Bart van Klink (Amsterdam): Professor of Legal methodology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is also board member of the Dutch Law and Society Association (VSR), editor-in-chief of the international journal ‘Law’; Method and director of the research programme ‘Boundaries of Law’. Together with Leon van den Broeke (Theology), he founded in 2018 the research group Societas Im/perfecta, which deals with the role of Utopia and dystopia in contemporary society. He publishes on various topics such as symbolic legislation, legal validity, law and authority, the rule of law, and legal research methods. Currently, he is editing – together with Henrike Jansen and Ingeborg van der Geest (Linguistics) – an interdisciplinary volume on populism, entitled Vox Populi: Populism as a Rhetorical and Democratic Challenge, which will be published by Edward Elgar in 2020.
Vallespin.jpg Fernando Vallespín (Madrid): Political Science Professor at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid, where he has been chairman of the Political Science Department and Vice-chancellor of the University. From 2004 to 2008 he has been President of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, a government-related and publicly founded institute for public opinion and opinion polls. He has been Fulbright Fellow at Harvard University and visiting professor at universities such as Maryland, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Malasia and Veracruz in Mexico. He is author of several books -the latest on Populism and Thomas Hobbes- and over a hundred academic articles and book chapters. His main area of interest is Political and Democratic Theory. He is a staff and weekly columnist at the Spanish newspaper El Pais. He was recently appointed member of the Spanish Royal Academy for Moral and Political Sciences.
unnamed.jpg Tõnu Viik (Tallinn): Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the School of Humanities at Tallinn University. He received his Ph.D. from Emory University, Atlanta. Tõnu’s academic interests include phenomenology, philosophy of culture, and cultural theory. His work focuses on a phenomenological account of culture-dependent meaning-making in everyday life and various forms of individual and collective affectivity.
Wilkinson.jpeg Michael Wilkinson (London): Associate Professor of Law at the LSE and has held visiting professorships at Cornell University, Paris II University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Keio, Tokyo. He teaches and researches in the areas of legal theory, constitutional theory and European integration. His publications include Questioning the Foundations of Public Law (Hart, 2018) and Constitutionalism Beyond Liberalism (CUP, 2017); ‘The Material Constitution’ (2018, Modern Law Review); ‘Authoritarian liberalism in the European constitutional  imagination: Second time as farce?’ (2015, European Law Journal) and ‘The spectre of authoritarian liberalism: Reflections on the constitutional crisis of the European Union’ (2013, German Law Journal). He is currently working on a monograph for OUP, entitled Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe.

Conference scientific conveners: Massimo La Torre, Indrek Grauberg

Conference managing secretary: Marleen Allemann (marleen.allemann@tlu.ee)