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Fall 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reflections on the 2016 Election and The Republican Party under President Trump (broadcast on C-SPAN)

Carole Joffe, Professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, UCSF; Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology, UC Davis

Paul Pierson, Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley

Lawrence Rosenthal, Chair, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies

Moderated by Kim Voss, Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley

This panel will reflect on the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its implications for the Right in the United States. Dr. Rosenthal will address the emergence and significance of the Donald Trump phenomenon, focusing on Trump's exploitation of rifts among factions of the Republican Party that assumed unprecedented levels in 2016.  Professor Joffe will discuss the role that traditional electoral priorities of the Right, particularly abortion and marriage equality, played in the outcome of the election. Professor Pierson will discuss what the outcome of the election means for the future of the Republican Party and the American Right. 

Social Science Matrix Conference Room, 8th floor, 820 Barrows Hall

Co-sponsored by the Scholars Strategy Network, Department of Sociology, and the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans

Corey Fields, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Stanford University

What is it like to be black in the highly racialized context of the Republican Party? Black Elephants in the Room considers the role of race in the political experiences of African American Republicans and discusses the dynamic relationship between race and political behavior in the purported “post-racial” context of U.S. politics. Drawing on vivid first-person accounts, this talk will shed light on the different ways black identity structures African Americans’ membership in the Republican Party. Moving past rhetoric and politics, we begin to see everyday people working to reconcile their commitment to black identity with their belief in Republican principles. And in the end, we see that the identity politics of African American Republicans is shaped by the meanings they attach to race and the political contexts in which those meanings are developed and expressed.

Wildavsky Conference Room, ISSI, 2538 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Political Passion and the Gun Debate: How a Small Minority Came to Dominate Gus Safety in the US

Firmin DeBrabander, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Maryland Institute College of Art

Twenty-first century America is undergoing a radical experiment in gun rights. The number of privately-owned guns, and expansive gun laws, has ballooned in recent years. Most Americans favor stronger gun control restrictions, but the NRA’s radical agenda remains largely uncontested. Why is this? Why isn’t our gun violence epidemic, unparalleled in the developed world, sufficiently alarming to American voters, to stand up against the loud and angry gun rights minority? This presentation will examine the reasons behind the success of a small, but passionate minority able to dominate debate over gun safety in the US.

Wildavsky Conference Room, ISSI, 2538 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology


Spring 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Nostalgia and conspiracy theories in right wing ideologies – The case of New Dawn in Greece and the risks for Europe"

Yiannis Gabriel, Chair in Organizational Studies, University of Bath, School of Management

The presentation will examine conspiracy theories and nostalgia as parts of the unfolding European drama, focusing on developments in Greece. Conspiracy theories represent a quest for scapegoats, sometimes in the form of ‘parasites’, people or groups who take and give nothing back. Nostalgia, for its part, exacerbates a desire for the return of a mythical past, free of parasites and undesirables. Both conspiracy theories and nostalgia play a central part in the ideology of the New Dawn against Greece’s financial, social and existential crisis. The talk will develop the argument that the rise of conspiracy theories and xenophobic nostalgia can be viewed as warning signs of miasma, a highly contagious state of material, psychological and spiritual pollution that descends plague-like, and afflicts entire communities, organizations or nations. Miasma dissolves love bonds and leaves a community dominated by fear, guilt, hate, despair and lies. 

Wildavsky Conference Room, ISSI, 2538 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by the Institute of European Studies


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"The Koch Effect: The Impact of a Cadre-Led Network on American Politics

Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University 

In Washington, DC and the states, Republicans push unpopular policies - and sometimes also oppose legislation favored by prominent business groups. Why is that? New research highlights resource shifts on the U.S. right and the growing influence of the Koch network, a coordinated set of big donors, lobbying groups, and constituency organizations that now rivals America's political parties. At this talk, Professor Skocpol will present early results from a collaborative study of "The Shifting U.S. Political Terrain" under way at Harvard University and grassroots mobilizations orchestrated by the Koch Network. 

Room 60, Evans Hall

Co-sponsored by the Scholars Strategy Network and Department of Sociology


Thursday, February 18, 2016

"The Rise of Far-Right Nationalism and the Russia Angle: Implications for International Security and Foreign Policy"

Alina Polyakova, Deputy Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council 

Far-right nationalist parties are on the rise in Western and Eastern Europe. Buttressed by the financial crisis of 2008, the ongoing migration crisis, and the threat of terrorist attacks, previously fringe political parties resonate with growing numbers of Europeans who are disenchanted with the European project. Many European far-right parties are also supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While far-right parties are not new to Europe, Russia's financial and ideological support for such parties, is. The reemergence of nationalism, as evidenced by the rise of the European far right, and the Kremlin's use of far-right groups as a tool of political influence presents short- and long-term foreign policy challenges. My book, The Dark Side of European Integration, based on dissertation research at UC Berkeley, argued that the success of far-right parties across Europe is, in part, a cultural backlash against rapid European economic and political integration. In this lecture, I will focus on how recent geo-political events have helped euroskeptic far-right parties such as the National Front and Jobbik while solidifying the relationship between such parties and Putin's Russia. While the rise of the European far right has not been a top priority for US foreign policy, these political parties, and their ties to Russia, present a growing challenge to the transatlantic partnership. 

Wildavsky Conference Room, ISSI, 2538 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by the Institute of European Studies and the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, UC Berkeley


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"2015: A Transformative Year in Far Right Politics?"

Cas Mudde, Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia

Although 2015 did not have a central focal point, like the European elections in 2014, the alleged rise of far right and populist politics was again among the main political debates in most western democracies. Every major event in European politics was linked to a possible surge in the support of far right parties and politicians, from the terrorist attacks in France at the beginning and end of the year to the Eurozone crisis and refugee crisis in between. Politicians like Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, and Donald Trump dominated the news with crass nativist, authoritarian, and populist statements. Commentators argued that the far right had moved to the mainstream, while some critics alleged that the mainstream had moved to the far right. Whatever the exact direction of the movement, it is clear that distinctions between traditional far right politicians and mainstream politicians are more and more difficult to make, which calls for a reflection on both terminology and classification. In this lecture I will focus on the main developments in far right politics of the past year and assess whether 2015 was merely a freak year or constitutes a transformative year for the far right. I will discuss the fate of the usual suspects, i.e. the far right parties in Europe (e.g FN), as well as some new unusual suspects, i.e. far right politicians in the political mainstream parties (e.g. Orban and Trump), and argue that the mainstreaming of far right politics has made the distinction between far right and mainstream parties less clear and less relevant.

Wildavsky Conference Room, ISSI, UC Berkeley, 2538 Channing Way

Co-sponsored by Center for Research on Social Change and Institute of European Studies

Fall 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015  

The Art of Recruitment: How the 'Islamic State' Trains its Community Organizers

Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Research Fellow, New America Foundation and Research Fellow, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

In early 2009 a new document appeared on jihadi web forums. It was designed to empower a small group of very radical, and very dedicated, people to take over the world. This document, titled “A Course in the Art of Recruitment,” aimed to resolve a deep tension in the global jihadi movement: the Internet was the connective tissue holding together radicalized jihadis from across the globe, but recruiters still found that an on-the-ground, personal touch was necessary to mobilize would-be recruits. The 51-page document, attributed to pseudonymous Abu 'Amr al-Qa'idi, aimed to resolve that conundrum not by directly recruiting individuals to al-Qa'ida's cause, but rather by empowering already radicalized, but inadequately trained, individuals to more effectively select, recruit, and organize on their own.

Abu `Amr’s handbook prescribes a highly structured recruitment process with multiple stages and clear, simple metrics to assess a recruit’s suitability and progress—essentially, the bureaucratization of decentralized jihadist recruitment. Abu `Amr argues that structuring recruitment and providing simple quantitative assessment tools will allow recruiters with less education and knowledge of Shari`a to recruit safely and effectively.

Abu 'Amr's methods have gained new currency as social media has enabled jihadis recruiters, often in Syria or Iraq, to apply an individualized touch to the recruitment process from thousands of miles away. But the concepts these digital recruiters utilize are not new, they are not ill-defined, and, for many, they are not always intuitive. Abu 'Amr's acolytes, for example, will explicitly avoid recruiting devout Muslims out of fear that they will understand the particulars of Islamic doctrine better than the recruiters themselves. Regardless, Abu 'Amr's manual provides insight into the movement that has become the 'Islamic State' and offers a glimpse into how a wide-range of radical movements, not just jihadis, are likely to organize in the future.  

Co-sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Institute of European Studies

Spring 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution"

Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Assistant Professor of Politics, Pomona College 

Fred Smith, Assistant Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law, as respondent 

There are few intellectual movements in modern American political history more successful than the Federalist Society. Created in 1982 to counterbalance what its founders considered a liberal legal establishment, the organization gradually evolved into the conservative legal establishment, and membership is all but required for any conservative lawyer who hopes to enter politics or the judiciary. It claims 40,000 members, including four Supreme Court Justices, dozens of federal judges, and every Republican attorney general since its inception. But its power goes even deeper.

In Ideas with Consequences, Amanda Hollis-Brusky provides the first comprehensive account of how the Federalist Society exerts its influence. Drawing from a huge trove of documents, transcripts, and interviews, she explains how the Federalist Society managed to revolutionize the jurisprudence for a wide variety of important legal issues. Many of these issues-including the extent of federal government power, the scope of the right to bear arms, and the parameters of corporate political speech-had long been considered settled. But the Federalist Society was able to upend the existing conventional wisdom, promoting constitutional theories that had previously been dismissed as ludicrously radical. As Hollis-Brusky shows, the Federalist Society provided several of the crucial ingredients needed to accomplish this constitutional revolution. It serves as a credentialing institution for conservative lawyers and judges and legitimizes novel interpretations of the constitution that employ a conservative framework. It also provides a judicial audience of like-minded peers, which prevents the well-documented phenomenon of conservative judges turning moderate after years on the bench. As a consequence, it is able to exercise enormous influence on important cases at every level.

Fall 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Hungary's Conservative Revolution: Sui Generis or Future Pattern?"

Jason Wittenberg, Associate Professor, Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley

Since the landslide victory of Fidesz in the 2010 Hungarian national parliamentary election, Hungary has undergone nothing short of a conservative revolution. With its parliamentary supermajority, Fidesz can rule without regard for opposition views, and has used that power with vigor. Since taking power Fidesz has drafted and passed a new conservative constitution, weakened the separation of powers, restricted freedom of speech, squeezed its socialist and liberal rivals out of positions of influence, and gerrymandered the electoral system in its favor. My comments will examine the roots of these changes and whether they are harbingers of future developments in post-communist Eastern Europe.

Fall 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"My People, My People: How Competing Ideas about 'Black People' Shape African-American Republicans' Political Behavior"

Corey Fields, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

Laura Stoker, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California at Berkeley, as respondent

This research explores how race animates the politics of African-American Republicans. I depart from existing approaches that treat race as an axis of identity. Instead, I argue for the necessity of treating race as a set of ideas about black people. Interviews and ethnographic observations reveal that strong expressions of racial identity are common among African-American Republicans. However, there are very different ideas about who constitutes the group being identified with. Divergent ideas about black people divide African-American Republicans. These ideas impact 3 aspects of their political behavior: (1) interpretation of conservative social policy, (2) their ability to organize themselves, and (3) their capacity to build alliances with white Republicans. To fully understand black political behavior, analysts must move from only considering race as a marker of identity for black people, to also thinking about race as a set of ideas black people have about black people. 

Fall 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Populism and the Tea Party in American Politics"

Bill Whalen, Resident Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Lawrence Rosenthal, Executive Director and Lead Researcher, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies

Henry E. Brady, Dean Goldman School of Public Policy

Moderated by:

Christine Trost, Program Director, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies; Assistant Director, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

Spring 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right"

Jennifer Burns, Assistant Professor of History, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Professor Burns will speak about her recently published book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (Oxford University Press, 2009), an intellectual biography of the controversial novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. Worshipped by her fans, denounced by her enemies, and forever shadowed by controversy and scandal, Rand was a powerful thinker whose views on government and markets shaped the conservative movement from its earliest days. Drawing on unprecedented access to Rand's private papers and the original, unedited versions of Rand's journals, Professor Burns offers a groundbreaking reassessment of this key cultural figure, examining her life, her ideas, and her impact on conservative political thought. 

Fall 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fractures, Alliances and Mobilizations in the Age of Obama: Emerging Analyses of the "Tea Party Movement"

This conference will bring together leading scholars, along with several journalists and political commentators, to discuss and debate the emergence and implications of the "Tea Party Movement" in the wake of Obama's election. Much has been made of the Tea Party Movement in the media however there is little, if any, scholarship on it. This conference, which features historians, political scientists, sociologists, and race and gender scholars, is intended to begin to fill this gap. Key questions that the conference will address include: Is the "Tea Party Movement" (TPM) a new social movement, an emerging political party, a media-driven construction, or something else? What are the origins, ideology, and constituencies of the TPM and how were they formed? What is the relationship between the TPM and the Right, especially the GOP, in the U.S., and what role will the TPM play in shaping the 2010 and future elections? How do race, class and gender factor into the TPM's message and membership? How are TPM activists tapping into and/or managing the populist, libertarian, and radical currents on the Right, as well as fear, anger and resentment among segments of the American public? What significance does the TPM hold for the future of American politics?

9:00 - 9:15 am            Welcome and Introduction of Key Note Speaker

Lawrence Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, University of California, Berkeley

9:15 - 10:30 am           Keynote Address "The Tea Parties Now"

Rick Perlstein, Journalist and Author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus

10:45am - 12:30 pm      Panel 1: New Forms of Activism on the Right: The Tea Party--Emergence of a Movement?


Christopher Parker, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Washington

Ruth Rosen, Professor Emerita of History, University of California, Davis; Visiting Professor of History, UC Berkeley

Clarence Lo, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia

David Weigel, Political Reporter, Slate, and MSNBC contributor

Debra Saunders, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle


Jack Citrin, Director, Institute of Governmental Studies & Heller Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

1:30 - 3:00 pm             Panel 2: The Tea Party and the Right: Fractures and Alliances within the Republican Party and other groups on the Right


Martin Cohen, Assistant Professor of Political Science, James Madison University

Alan I. Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science, Emory University

Peter Montgomery, Senior Fellow, People for the American Way

Bill Whalen, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University


Eric Schickler, American Politics Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley

3:15 - 4:45 pm            Panel 3: Tapping into Fear, Anger and Resentment: The Tea Party and the Climate of Threat


Lisa Disch, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Women's Studies, University of Michigan

Charles Postel, Associate Professor of History, San Francisco State University

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

Devin Burghart, Vice President, Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights


Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies, University of California, Berkeley

4:45 - 5:00 pm            Closing Remarks

Christine Trost, Program Director, Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements, and Assistant Director, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley

Spring 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Does Gender Matter in Organized Racism?"

Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and History, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh

How do we know if gender matters in right-wing movements? Drawing on my studies of women in the 1920s Ku Klux Klan and modern U.S. organized racism, as well as new scholarship on women in right-wing movements across the globe, this talk looks at assumptions that enable and circumscribe how we understand gender on the political right. These include templates of German Nazism, the male right, social movement progressivism, historical & spatial continuity, and mobilization from the private to the public.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: Two Authors Discuss Global and Domestic Battles over Women's Reproduction"

Michelle Goldberg, journalist and author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World (Penguin, 2009)

Carole Joffe, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of California Davis and author of Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients and the Rest of Us (Beacon Press, 2010)

The assassination of Dr. George Tiller last May marked an upsurge in violence and intimidation by the anti-abortion movement in the U.S. At this event, two experts on domestic and international battles over women's reproduction will discuss recent developments in the U.S. and anti-abortion movement and situate it within the larger, global movement aimed at limiting women's reproductive rights.

Fall 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Blood and Politics: New Developments in the Rise of (White) Nationalism in the U.S., UK, and other parts of Europe"

Leonard Zeskind, President, Institute for Reseach & Education on Human Rights

Nick Lowles, Editor, Searchlight Magazine

Race and nationalism are back on the political agenda. Zeskind and Lowles will examine these issues in the U.S. and Europe, focusing on both the most recent developments and the social movements that brought us to this point.