ZiF Workshop

Right-Wing Populism and Gender

Date: 22 - 24 November
Convenors: Gabriele Dietze (Hanover, USA), Julia Roth (Bielefeld, GER), Andrea Maihofer (Basel, SUI), Birgit Sauer (Wien, AUT), Tomke König (Bielefeld, GER)

The workshop for the first time brought together researchers working on European right-wing populisms from a gender perspective and on the paradoxes that result from rightwing populist engagements with gender. One major paradox that the workshop discussed was the fact that the relation of the sexes and the heterosexual design of the nuclear family play an important role in the parties' self-conception, whereas populist 'sexual nationalisms' simultaneously highlight the sexual freedom of the enlightened 'native' population. They are thereby feeding on anti-Muslim resentment via the alleged 'backwardness' of immigrants and refugees. Another paradox combines the persistent gender-gap in voting with a coexisting tendency to support female leadership, all the more as a wave of anti-genderism is lately expressed by these movements. As numerous contributions illustrated, the deployment of sex and gender in the parties' programs could be a fruitful avenue for epistemological investigation into gender as an 'empty signifier' for naturalized inequality in populist discourse.

The keynote of the renowned political scientist Birgit Sauer shed light on the relationship between RWP and neoliberalism. Polish colleague Agnieszka Graff spoke about the PIS's attempt to abolish abortion and the successful feminist resistance. Slovenian colleague Mojka Panjik examined how an already existing 'media patriarchalism' enters into a new connection with RWP tendencies and Paula Diehl (Bielefeld) pointed out the relationship between RWP scandalisation policies and late-modern media infotainment.

An important concern of the conference was to get cultural and social scientific approaches in conversation, as analyzes of current films, Anja Michaelsen and You-Tubes, Simon Strick, in addition to qualitative analysis of the views of Austrian FPÖ voters, Stefanie Maier, were contrasted with quantitative studies on the voting behavior of homosexual Dutchmen, Nils Spierings. The paper by anthropologist Patrick Wielowiesky shed light on the fact that homosexuality and RWP can make strange alliances. Just as interesting as needing explanation is the existence of female leaders in RWP parties. Birte Siim explored the Scandinavian environment and Jasmin Siri the German.

In a panel discussion, artists, activists and activists (Shermin Langhoff / Gorki Theater Berlin, Hengameh Yaghoobinafarah / Missy Magazine Berlin, Katharina Pühl / Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Berlin, Nanna Heidenreich / Film Curator Cologne) came together on November 22nd. In a controversial debate, the discussants emphasized the need to create creative, media and discursive counter-spaces. The exhibition and performance on feminist resistance in Nicaragua that accompanied the workshop was an example of this.

Since the established research on populism, which is relatively uninterested in gender issues, neither systematically dealt with the gender issue nor its cognitive value as a meta-allegory, the workshop has taken a significant step towards enriching the field of research and reassessing innovative parameters to develop the phenomenon.


Ursula Birsl (Marburg, GER), Paula Diehl (Bielefeld, GER), Anna Efremova (Bielefeld, GER), Nina Elena Eggers (Hamburg, GER), Luisa Raquel Ellermeier (Bielefeld, GER), Angelika Epple (Bielefeld, GER), Walter Erhart (Bielefeld, GER), Cornelia Giebeler (Bielefeld, GER), Agnieszka Graff (Warszawa, POL), Vivian Gramley (Bielefeld, GER), Elahe Haschemi Yekani (Berlin, GER), Nanna Heidenreich (Käln, GER), Alissa Herbaly Coons (Sydney, AUS), Sonia Javaidova (Bielefeld, GER), Kaja Kroes (Bielefeld, GER), Shermin Langhoff (Berlin, GER), Verena Limper (Münster, GER), Davlatbegim Mamadshoeva (Bielefeld, GER), Heike Mauer (Essen, GER), Stefanie Mayer (Wien, AUT), Beatrice Michaelis (Rostock, GER), Anja Michaelsen (Berlin, GER), Marion Näser-Lather (Marburg, GER), Ov Cristian Norocel (Bruxelles, BEL), Edith Otero Quezada (Bielefeld, GER), Mojca Pajnik (Ljubljana, SLO), Holly Patch (Bielefeld, GER), Katharina Pühl (Berlin, GER), Wilfried Raussert (Bielefeld, GER), Susanne Richter (Basel, SUI), Alexandra Scheele (Bielefeld, GER), Verònica Schild (London, CAN), Imke Schmincke (München, GER), Birte Siim (Copenhagen, DEN), Jasmin Siri (München, GER), C.H.B.M. Niels Spierings (Nijmegen, NED), Simon Strick (Berlin, GER), Oleksandra Tarkhanova (Bielefeld, GER), Nina Carina Timmermann (Bielefeld, GER), Karin Werner (Bielefeld, GER), Patrick Wielowiejski (Berlin, GER), Heidemarie Winkel (Bielefeld, GER), Hengameh Yaghoobifarah (Berlin, GER)

Please direct questions concerning the organisation of the workshop to Marina Hoffmann at the Conference Office. Questions regarding scientific content and contributions should be directed to the organizers.

Tel: +49 521 106-2768
Fax: +49 521 106-152768
E-Mail: marina.hoffmann@uni-bielefeld.de