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The Centre for the Study of Democracy, based in the Department of Politics and International Relations, has an international reputation for research excellence, with research themes in contentious politics and democracy, security and violence in global politics, gender and sexuality, as well as resilience and sustainability.


Ferruh Yilmaz (Tulane University, Louisiana)


This presentation explores the impact of the populist far right parties on how European societies imagine their internal structure.

The main argument is that the populists have managed to insert themselves into the centre of political discourse by provoking and capitalizing on moral panics and controversies around Muslim immigrants. The unending moral panics and controversies about the “alien threat” to “our core values” (i.e. gender equality, sexual freedoms, freedom of speech and democratic values) ontologized Muslims vis-à-vis the nation by turning immigrant workers (part of the national working class) into alien Muslims (external to the nation). This re-ontologization of society in turn displaced the basic antagonism in society from economic to cultural realm: the ongoing sense of anxiety around Muslim immigrants’ negative impact has created unlikely alliances among various social and political groups in defense of what came to be considered “common achievements.” Solidarity (as the basis for welfare system) is now commonly understood as rooted in cultural sameness rather than based on common class interests. This is what I call hegemonic transformation: there is a new “historical bloc” shaped around the perception of common values rather than common interests. Gender and sexuality are central to this process. The paper analyzes a particular moral panic in Denmark that changed the direction of public discourse and catapulted the populist forces onto the scene in the mid-1980s through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of newspaper coverage of immigration.

Our next research seminar will be on Tuesday 6 November – with Mustapha Kamal Pasha (Aberystwyth University) on International Relations as Political Theology.
Research seminars take place on Tuesdays 4-5.30pm at Westminster Forum, Level 5, 32-38 Wells Street, University of Westminster, W1T 3UW. Seminars are followed by drinks with the speaker.

All are welcome and there is no need to register.