Memory and Populism – Interdisciplinary and Transnational Perspectives

Workshop of the Memory Studies Association in London

Over the last decades, memory studies as well as research in populist politics, policies and politicians mushroomed, in both quality and quantity and in a variety of academic fields. Rarely, however, are populism and memory analysed in conjuncture. Yet, the simultaneous rise of populism and contentious memory politics suggests that both not only coexist but correlate and intertwine. Be it the reassertion or contestation of public remembrance (and oblivion), the questioning or reassessment of shared social memories or everyday conversations about history among populist parties, social movements and their followers: memory in, of and by populism is as much about recollecting the past as it is about shaping the present and the future of a political community.

Consequently, a number of important questions emerge at the crossroads of memory studies and populism research: Is populist memory a distinct form of political and/or social memory? What are the mechanisms of remembering and forgetting in authoritarian and populist politics and regimes? What is the relation between elite and popular memories in populist movements and parties? How and why is it effective to inject memory into the political process? Who does it and why, expecting what effect? How do we actually examine and measure this effect among the followers and voters of populist movements and parties? And what lessons can we draw from analysing the nexus between populism and memory at times when liberal democracyis in crisis?

Julian Göpffarth
CARR Doctoral Fellow, PhD Candidate European Institute
London School of Economics and Political Science
Email: J.J.Gopffarth(at)

Prof. Dr. Christina Morina
Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie
Email: christina.morina(at)uni-bielefeld(dot)de