Seminar Series: Populism and Religion

Online seminar Series: Populism and Religion, Lund
Autumn 2021 — three seminars online

Right-wing Populism and Religion – a Case of Banal religion? 
Andreas Mebus
September 28, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

We are all nationalists; in some banal way or another – as Michael Billig taught us in the late ’90s. And we are all Christian; at least we all share common Judeo-Christian values – or so have most European populist radical right parties tried to convince us for over a decade. Especially populist radical right parties in Scandinavia. This seminar welcomes students and scholars alike to discuss the uses of religion by populist radical right parties in a Scandinavian context and together explore the hypothesis, that the uses of religion by e.g. Danish People’s Party can be conceptualized as banal religion.  

Andreas Mebus is Lecturer in the Study of Religions at the University of Southern Denmark and specialized in philosophical related topics in the field. He teaches various courses, in particular on philosophy of science, philosophy of religion and political philosophy in relation to religion. His research interests include philosophy of history within the field of metaphysis and related topics, populism, nationalism, and extremism as political ideas, as well as the interrelation of religion, ideology and democracy with a political philosophical approach. In 2019 he published a monograph on populism: Populism, Slave morality, and Democracy.

On People in Populism and Religion
Ervik Cejvan
October 14, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

Reviewing religion through the critique of ideology will reveal the formations of ideology itself. This approach bases on observation that the religious organisation of human life precedes and conditions its political organisation. This allows for the critique and analysis of the transmissions and omissions of the particularities of the religious organisation in the political organisation. Employing the logic of displacement at work here, we will establish first steps toward the analysis of the function of the people, in religion and populism. In the instance of the people, we will see, the interpolation of religion in populism, is not incidental. Religion is the primal form of the organisation of the people. Populism is its current expression, of the impossibility of establishing a true religious/democratic universalism.  

Ervik Cejvan is affiliated researcher in philosophy of religion at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University. His research interests include the philosophical applications of psychoanalytic theory, the interpretations of religion in political philosophy and social sciences, and the expressions of religion in populism and nationalism. In January 2021 he successfully defended his doctoral thesis Critique of Exaggeration: Thinking Beyond. 

NB The previously announced seminar with Marc Boss is postponed due to personal reasons. 

Populist Discourse, Authenticity and Violence
Patrik Fridlund
November 25, 16h15-18h00
Meeting ID: 675 7986 2136

Populist political discourses, exemplified by Trump’s rhetoric, are not primarily based on facts. They must rather be judged on the effects they have. A thesis is that what is important to for instance Trump’s supporters is whether Trump is authentic, not whether every uttered word is ‘true’ in a simple sense. Therefore, a critical evaluation of populist political discourses is not helped by analyses of whether they are ‘true’. Therefore it is more fruitful to ask populists what kind of authenticity they are striving for, including the issue of violence. Theology and philosophy can provide useful tools regarding being authentic.

Patrik Fridlund is Associate Professor (docent) in Philosophy of Religion at Lund University, teaching and tutoring students on all levels. In particular, Fridlund is responsible for a course on populism and theology. His research interests include  plurality of religions, religion and politics, post-truth politics, and populism. He is Deputy director of the journal and senior scholar at the platform Christianity and Nationalism. Among his recent publications are ’Post-truth Politics, Responsible Irresponsibility and Ethics — Postmodernist Philosophers Revisited’ (2020), ’Post-truth Politics, Performatives and the Force’ (2020), ’Le dialogue interreligieux est-il vraiment un dialogue des rationalités religieuses ou culturelles ?’ (2019).

About the Seminar Series
These seminars on populism and Christianity focus on the theoretical, philosophical and theological aspects of populism. The worldview and the conception of politics — political community, political processes and political decision-making — are typically issues that characterise populist thought. One fundamental conviction is that precisely this kind of questions is necessary to deal with if we want to deepen the dialogue about how society is organised beyond straightforward descriptions and explanations of certain facts. Descriptions and certain facts cannot exclusively account for all the questions society constantly poses, let alone the answers.

Both senior and junior scholars, as well as doctoral students and beginners are welcome to the seminar. In order to reach as many as possible, the main language is English, but in the future occasional seminars in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, French or German, are not precluded, if that is appropriate.