Reed College

"Populism: A Challenge from Within"

Nadia Urbinati continues the Spring 2017 Public Policy Lecture Series on the theme of Democratic Theory in the Light of Donald Trump.

Populism is a deeply contextual phenomenon and a contested term, often used merely to brand and accuse actual political movements or leaders who criticize an existing political class. Recent events in Europe and the United States and a new wave of research have helped shed light on populism, and some agreement is possible among scholars upon basic definitions of it concerning its ideological character, its relation to democracy’s promises of public equality, its socio-cultural content, and its strategic mechanism. In this lecture, Urbinati will discuss how populism develops within representative democracies as a fight over the meaning and representation of the people, an extreme expression of intense majority politics, and thus a straining of constitutional democracy to its extreme limits, beyond which a change of regime (tyranny or dictatorship) could occur.  

Nadia Urbinati (Ph.D., European University Institute, Florence) is Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies at Columbia University. She is a political theorist who specializes in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions. She is co-editor with Andrew Arato of the journal Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory. In 2008 the President of the Italian Republic awarded Urbinati the Commendatore della Repubblica (Commander of the Italian Republic) "for her contribution to the study of democracy and the diffusion of Italian liberal and democratic thought abroad." Urbinati is the author of Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, and of Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government, among many other publications. Before coming to Columbia, Professor Urbinati served as visiting professor at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, and as a lecturer at Princeton University. She also taught at the University UNICAMP in Brazil and was a visiting professor at the Scuola Superiore de Studi Universitari e Perfezionamento Sant'Anna of Pisa (Italy).

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Vollum College Center, Vollum lecture hall
3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

Event Type



Faculty & Staff, Students, General Public


Political Science


Public Policy Lecture Series
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