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Apocalypse, Populism, Critique: An interdisciplinary Symposium

Populists on the Left and on the Right in different ways employ the prospect of apocalypse to advocate and promote their views of how to confront impending challenges modern societies and human civilization will be confronting in coming decades. In a variety of ways, both the prospect of apocalypse, and strategies to employ this prospect in terms of the traditional divide between Left and Right, call for new forms of critique to provide opportunities for confronting impending challenges in constructive ways that do not regenerate and perpetuate the structural patterns that have been generating the conditions which produced these challenges to begin with.

Three sessions with speakers from different disciplines in Arts & Sciences provide informed perspectives on the current resurgence of populism which, in the face of proliferating challenges, is likely to become more intense, probably much more intense. Given participants’ varied expertise, different types of lessons that should have been learned, e.g., from National Socialism, were ignored, in many different ways (e.g., in terms of teaching students about the importance of history, historical knowledge, knowledge of history, society, politics, culture, etc.), in ways that predictably are very dangerous for democracy and related values and practices. Each session is intended to set the stage for an engaged exchange between experts, interested faculty, and students (both graduate and undergraduate), presenting opportunities to highlight what different disciplines have to contribute at a critical time. The links between apocalypse, populism, and critique will not be addressed explicitly by each speaker, but links will be obvious and undeniable in many regards – e.g., in terms of national, societal, political apocalypse as a historical reality, a prospect, an ideological device, and a coping strategy.

Presented by the Center for the Study of Social Justice and the Committee on Social Theory.


9:30-10:00 Welcome and Agenda

Harry F. Dahms (Sociology):
Apocalypse, Populism, Critique: Adorno on Right-wing Radicalism

Apocalypse:  Historical and Religious

Gregory Kaplan (MFLL):
The Apocalypse and the Rebirth of Israel in the Treatises of Saul Levi Mortera (c. 1590-1660), Spinoza’s Rabbi

Mark Hulsether (Religion):
When End-Times Discourse, Conservative Populism, Subversive Memory, and Critique Co-Exist in the Same People

Apocalypse:  Sociological and Cultural 

Jon Shefner (Sociology)
From Austerity, to Apocalypse

Zhandarka Kurti (Sociology):
The Permanent Crisis: Apocalypse and Populism in Contemporary Popular Culture


Apocalypse:  Anthropological and Political

Raja Swamy (Anthropology):
Past and Future of India

Joel Crombez (Sociology, Kennesaw State University)
Steven Panageotou (Sociology, Arkansas State University):
Anxiety and Apocalypse: Trumpian Governance from Populism to Personal Brand

Timothy Gill (Sociology, University of North Carolina – Wilmington):
Varieties of Contemporary Populism in the Americas: Bernie Sanders, Hugo Chávez, and Donald Trump

Apocalypse, Populism, and Critique

Allen R. Dunn (English):
Apocalypse, Populism, Critique: Conclusions

Harry F. Dahms and Allen Dunn


Friday, October 30, 2020, 9:30 a.m.- 5:00 pm
(via Zoom; Link will be posted closer to the date!)

Co-sponsored by
Department of English
Department of Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences