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International Workshop | Blurring Boundaries? Illiberal conservatism and the New Right

International Workshop organized by SCRIPTS Berlin (Research Units Borders and Orders) and OEI Sociology, Freie Universität Berlin / 30.09.-01.10.2021, online

Workshop Description

Using the example of Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, Donald Trump’s America, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, The Economist (2019) argued that the ‘new right is not an evolution of conservatism, but a repudiation of it’. Such views are popular, but they risk underestimating intellectual and organizational endeavours to put conservatism again in opposition to liberalism. The way this is done overlaps with the so-called ‘New Right’ regarding the disdain for liberal globalization, ‘genderism’ and ‘abstract’ individualism. However, to simply equate the reinvention of illiberal conservatism with a rise of the new or extreme right, in turn risks losing sight of central differences between the two as well as how these differences impact on their respective relationships to liberalism. 

The workshop will explore the commonalities and differences of the illiberal conservative and the new rightist ideological projects in challenging liberalism and neoliberalism. We pose the question: How do the new illiberal conservatism and the New Right relate to liberalism and what does this tell us about their classification as political phenomena? To advance such a comparison, we seek contributions that explore paradigm cases with a focus on three dimensions: (1) self-description, (2) understanding of liberalism, and (3) relations to specific issues, such as globalism, “geopolitics” and broader geographical narratives, the nation(-state), human rights, individualism, (post-)modernity, Enlightenment, religion/Christianity, and revolution. Thus, the workshop aims to contribute to a timely survey of the new conservatism and the New Right, as political phenomena, clarifying the nature and affinity of their tense relationship to the liberal script.

Organized by

The workshop organizers are Katharina Bluhm, Friederike Kuntz, Mihai Varga, and Christian Volk. The workshop is co-funded by the Research Unit “Borders” and the Research Unit “Orders” in the Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script” (SCRIPTS).


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There are limited slots for an interested academic public to attend. Please get in touch with Friederike Kuntz and Mihai Varga: &


30 September, 2.30 to 8.30 pm (CEST) (Pittsburgh -6h; London -1h; Istanbul -1h; Tjumen +3h) 

2.30-3 pm: Welcome by the organizers

3.15-4.45 pm: Panel 1: Illiberal Conservatism and the New Right – Cross-national Entanglements

Chair: Katharina Bluhm (FU Berlin)
Discussant: Jean-François Drolet (Queen Mary University London) 
Clifford Bob (Duquesne University): The New Right, Liberalism, and Transnational Activism
Nitasha Kaul (University of Westminster): Decoding the Global Project of the New Right
Katja Freistein, Frank Gadinger and Christine Unrau (KHK Duisburg): Staging Sympathy and Schadenfreude. The Emotional Range of Right-Wing Populist Narratives 

5.30-7 pm: Panel 2: Conservatives and New Rightists 

Chair: Christian Volk (HU Berlin)
Discussant: Mark Bassin (Södertörn University)
George Hawley (University of Alabama): Laundered Identity: The Ambiguous Place of Right-Wing Identity Politics in the U.S.
Katharina Bluhm and Mihai Varga (FU Berlin): Of Ideologists and Activists: Generational and Framing Dynamic in Eastern Europe’s Conservative Thought Collectives
Caroline Hill (University of Innsbruck & Uppsala University): Who is to Blame and What is to be Done? Russian Orthodox Framing of Abortion Rights

7.30-8.30 pm: Online reception

1 October, 2-7 pm (CEST) 

2-3.30 pm: Panel 3: Illiberal (Neo-)Liberals?

Chair: Friederike Kuntz (FU Berlin)
Discussant: Mihai Varga (FU Berlin)
Maria Belen Díaz (FU Berlin): Make (Neo-)Liberalism Cool Again: Right-Wing Youth Political Culture in Brazil
Dieter Plehwe (WZB): Religious and neoliberal right in right-wing populist parties: Hayek’s bastards, mutants, or part of the original DNA?
Doğancan Özsel (Munzur University): Illiberal Geographies of Populist Conservatism: Spatial Conceptualizations of the Political among Turkish Conservatives

4-5.30 pm: Panel 4: The European New Right

Chair: Jean-François Drolet (Queen Mary University London)
Discussant: Christine Unrau (KHK Duisburg)
Mark Bassin (Södertörn University): Geopolitics or Ethnopolitics?  Space, Race, and the European Far Right’s “Russia Problem”
Manni Crone (DIIS): Towards Civilizations and Spiritual Empires? How the European New Right Braces for a Post-Liberal World Order
Friederike Kuntz (FU Berlin): Anti-Liberalism and Conservative Revolution in the European New Right 

6-7 pm: Concluding remarks & next steps