On the afternoon of April 5, 2018, the American Academy in Berlin held an alumni seminar in New York City at The New School for Social Research entitled “The New Populisms and Nationalisms: Transatlantic Perspectives.” Created in collaboration with The New School, the seminar was prompted by the impending departure of Britain from the European Union, the election of Donald Trump, and the numerous challenges facing democratic norms in countries such as Hungary, Poland, France, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands, as well as in India and Turkey. In Russia, Putin’s regime has been presenting a counterweight to the values of liberal democracy. Around the globe, the rejection of the international postwar order has been manifesting in rising nationalism.
To explore how these distinct cases are linked, the American Academy and The New School brought together experts—Academy alumni and New School faculty—to address what “kinds” of nationalism are coming to the fore: older nationalism of the twentieth century, dormant and now reawakened, or a new kind of nationalism, with novel components and contingencies? These topics were addressed in two panel discussions, one on the United States and Western Europe, and one on Russia and Eastern Europe, followed by a discussion with the audience.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by William Milberg, dean and professor of economics at The New School, and Michael P. Steinberg, president of the American Academy in Berlin. The first panel spoke to nationalism and the transatlantic condition, and was chaired by alumnus Harry Liebersohn, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and included alumni Sean Wilentz, professor of history at Princeton University, Ellen Kennedy, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania; Katherine Pratt Ewing, professor of religion at Columbia University; as well as Federico Finchelstein, professor of history at The New School.
The second panel concerned Russia and Eastern Europe, and was chaired by alumna Virág Molnár, associate professor of sociology at The New School, and included alumni Laura Engelstein, professor emerita of Russian history at Yale University; Jochen Hellbeck, professor of history at Rutgers University; and Kate Brown, professor of history at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, as well as Jessica Pisano, associate professor of politics at The New School. Closing remarks were delivered by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a trustee of the American Academy in Berlin.
The next alumni seminar will be held at Stanford University in November 2018. Please see the Academy’s Alumni Seminar page for more information.
Photo: Oscar Frasser