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Populism and Global Politics

30 June-2 July 2023

The 2023 Otago Foreign Policy School brings together academics, journalists, diplomats and members of the general public interested in the nexus between populism and global politics. While the national electoral success of populist politicians like Trump and Bolsonaro has been the subject of significant coverage, the international and transnational aspects of this phenomenon have received much less attention.

However, today's “global rise of populism” cannot be fully understood without systematically exploring its international and transnational dimensions. First, it is clear populist movements and leaders identify with each other and often support each other in election campaigns (as Nigel Farage demonstrated in his solidarity with Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections). Second, it is evident that many of the demands voiced by populist parties and leaders have a foreign policy or international component.

This School, a joint venture between the University of Otago and Kiel University, seeks to address this anomaly by considering four inter-related themes: the common language and narratives of populism; the recurrent causes and drivers of populism (Islamophobia after 9/11, the impact of the 2008/9 global financial crisis, burgeoning inequality, and the effects of the digital revolution, including the rise of social media); the use of case studies to illustrate the populist experience in India, Brazil, USA, Japan, Germany and New Zealand; and the uneasy relationship between populism and the international rules-based order.

List of confirmed speakers

  • Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Dr Alexandra Homolar, Keynote speaker, University of Warwick
  • Dr Deborah Barros Leal Farias, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Associate Professor Emma Briant, Monash University, Australia
  • Professor Steven Ratuva, University of Canterbury
  • Professor Daniel Zirker, University of Waikato
  • Ms Merve Genc, Kiel University, Germany
  • Dr Okan Tan, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Professor Erica Resende, Candido Mendes University, Brazil
  • Mr Anthony Simpson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Dr Sanjana Hattotuwa, The Disinformation Project
  • Dr Thorsten Wojczewski, Coventry University
  • Dr David Jenkins, University of Otago
  • Mr Cameron Vercoe Groenen, University of Otago
  • Ms Andrea Vance, Stuff


View the 2023 Otago Foreign Policy School conference programme

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