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The Visible Scholar

Populism is not in the air (but maybe it should be)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
12 noon – 12:45 p.m.
Research & Collaborative Study Area, 1st Floor, Boatwright Library

Ernesto SemanDr. Ernesto Semán
Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies
Jepson School of Leadership Studies

Dr. Ernesto Semán, Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies, will provide a talk based on his book, Ambassadors of the Working Class, published recently by Duke University Press. Analogies between the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and populist leaders in Latin America are an emblematic case of misleading comparative analysis. They hide the ideological core of Trumpism, which undermines collective action and its emblematic institution, organized labor, dismantling the protections it attained during the twentieth century. In particular, references to Argentina’s Juan Perón obscure Trump’s emphasis on individual freedom, property rights and the naturalization of inequality, values engrained in American political thinking. They also distort the populist legacies in Latin America. Populist leaders in the postwar years challenged liberal democratic thinking by posing that social rights and collective prerogatives for excluded groups should prevail over individual citizenship in order to expand political democracy. That legacy is not only alien to Trumpism; it might be also the main weapon to fight against it.


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Taking place in an open venue in the library, “The Visible Scholar Series” provides a space for informal faculty talks on new publications. Students, staff and faculty can listen and view a “scholar in action.”