Protestors in Connecticut


"Global Populisms and their International Diffusion"

    Conference Overview
  • Conference Overview
  • Conference Program
  • Conference Logistics

Conference Overview

This conference aims to examine the international aspects of the rise of populism across the globe: the role of international alliances, disinformation and propaganda campaigns, and the use of hacking, international institutions, and ideology as ways of building the new "illiberal international."

At this conference we will examine: 

  • Conceptualizing the threat: Are we observing diffusion—or homophily? Do these actors actively build linkages and support each other, or do simply we see the imitation of successful patterns? How and when does international outreach build domestic support for populist parties?  
  • Populist alliances: Do these “allied” movements share a common ideology, or are their affinities superficial and ephemeral? What are the tradeoffs inherent in these alliances—what do the partners gain, and what do they stand to lose, given the nativist attitudes of some of their supporters? What is the role of the European Union here, and its selective targeting of some countries but not others for the erosion of liberal democratic formal institutions?
  • Russia’s “soft” efforts: A main vector of international influence has been via disinformation and propaganda efforts. What is the impact of these efforts, such as Russia Today and other broadcasting outlets, social media campaigns, and the spread of fake news? Do these and other investments pay off? Which disinformation campaigns work, when and how? Who are the most successful “useful idiots”: the domestic actors who transmit and amplify these efforts?  
  • Cybersecurity: The spate of successful efforts to compromise electoral systems, hack email accounts, and breach security systems has so far benefitted chiefly populist and populist authoritarian political parties and politicians. What weapons are at the disposal of both democratic and authoritarian actors—and what form would deterrence take? What are the politics of identifying targets and punishing them?  
  • What is to be done? What are successful strategies that curtail international interference (cf the 2016 French presidential elections)? How do we protect the highly diverse and often inadequately documented voting systems administered by individual states? How do democracies and liberal democratic political parties win the information war? How do they build resilience in the future?

Conference Program

PDF iconPDF of Conference Program


FRIDAY, March 1

8:15-8:45 Breakfast

8:45-10:30 Panel 1: How is Democracy Threatened? 
Chaired by Anna Grzymala-Busse

  • Henry Farrell, George Washington University, “The Democrat’s Dilemma: Information and Democratic Regime Stability”
  • Seva Gunitsky, University of Toronto, “Autocratic Diffusion and Great Power Politics”
  • Kate Starbird, University of Washington, “Disentangling the organic and the orchestrated? Online disinformation as collaborative work.”
  • Herb Lin, Stanford University, “Cyber Threats to Electoral Integrity”

— 10:30-10:45: Coffee break —

10:45-12:30 Panel 2: Russia’s Global Efforts
Chaired by Frank Fukuyama

  • Laura Rosenberger, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, “Russia’s Tools of Support for Illiberal Populist Forces”
  • Josh Tucker, New York University, “Heads Will Troll: An Analysis of Links shared by IRA Twitter Accounts”
  • Julia Davis, Russian Media Monitor, “The Two-Sided Sword of Russian Propaganda”
  • Lucan Way, University of Toronto, "How Do We Know if Russia is a Threat to Democracy?"

— 12:30-1:30: Lunch —

1:30-3:00 Panel 3: Comparative Perspectives on International Diffusion
Chaired by Larry Diamond

  • R. Daniel Kelemen, Rutgers University, “The European Union’s Authoritarian Equilibrium”
  • Abraham Newman, Georgetown University, “The Nationalist International”
  • Alina Polyakova, Brookings Institution, “Responding to the Illiberal Toolkit”

— 3:00-3:15: Coffee break —

3:15-4:45 Panel 4: Coming Attractions: The Changing Nature of the Threats
Chaired by Margaret Levi

  • Amy Zegart, Stanford University, “The Dark Arts of Deception: What’s Old? What’s New? What’s Next?”
  • Martin Schallbruch, Stanford University, “Doxing Political Leaders: The German ‘advent calendar’ case and the role of cybersecurity”
  • Andrew Grotto, Stanford University, “Deep Fakes and the U.S. Political Process: Risk and Recommendations”

6pm: Dinner for Conference Participants



8:45-9:15 Breakfast

 9:15-11:30 Panel 5:  The war at home? Domestic aspects of global diffusion
Chaired by Didi Kuo

  • Pauline Jones, University of Michigan, “Perils of Populism: The Domestic Implications of Putin’s International Strategy”
  • Mike McFaul, Stanford University, “Putinism: Exportable Ideology or Disruptive Virus?”
  • Markos Kounalakis, Hoover Institution, “How Chinese and Russia Media Deploy Western Nationals to Reinforce Populist Sentiments”
  • Steven Wilson, University of Nevada, “The V-Dem World Social Media Survey”
  • Vikram Singh, Center for American Progress, “Populism as a domestic strategy?”

— 11:30-12:45 pm Lunch and concluding discussion—

Conference Logistics

  • Venue: 

Seawell Family Boardroom
Bass Center
Knight Management Center (Graduate School of Business)

Street Address:
655 Knight Way

  • Conference contact for participants:  for questions regarding conference logistics, please contact Karen Haley at




"Immigration and Populism"

    Workshop Overview
  • Workshop Overview
  • Workshop Program
  • Workshop Logistics

Workshop Overview

This workshop focuses on the relationship between populism and immigration, as part of a larger project on the rise of diverse forms of populisms around the globe.
Global populism is on the rise.The defining characteristic of such populist parties is a claim to represent an “organic” people or nation, rather than specific interests or groups. Such representation has two deeply worrying implications: first, the nation has to be defined, usually in nativist terms. This means renewed efforts to exclude vulnerable groups from the definition of the “people.” This is majority rule without minority rights. Second, those who disagree with populist representation of “the people” are obviously not the “real” nation. The opposition (whether elite or popular) is by definition treasonous and treacherous—and should be summarily dealt with.
Not surprisingly, then, many populists view immigrants as both a cultural and an economic threat to the “people,” and have rallied support around policies designed to limit immigration, preserve cultural homogeneity, and reduce the economic strain produced by immigrants. Concerns about the enforcement of existing immigrations laws, and about the integration and assimilation of immigrants into their new home countries are shared more broadly—but they are often also exploited by populist politicians as evidence of the corrupt elite status quo, and the need to redefine the nation.
We seek to examine four facets of the resulting relationship between populism and immigration:
1. The political economy of immigration and integration.
Critics of immigration, populist and otherwise, view it as posing unfair economic competition: whether foreign PhDs, undocumented domestic and service workers, or the undercutting of wages and job availability. In addition, populist parties (among others) often charge that immigrants overuse and strain the welfare states of recipient countries.
Here, how do populists (in or out of office) influence the political economy of immigration? Which immigrants pose labor market competition, where, and how? Have populist parties and actors benefited from the resulting grievances, or have other actors? What is the impact on the welfare state, and where?
2. Immigration as diversity and/ or cultural threat
One of the critical concerns of populist parties is protecting “the people” or “the nation,” defined in historical and homogenous terms. Populist parties frequently criticize immigrant and minority populations for diluting and undermining “the people” and their  well-being: in other words, these populations are a cultural threat to historical identities. At the same time, there is a broader concern with the integration of immigration populations.
How, then, do countries “manage diversity”? What are the new boundaries around citizenship and citizen rights? When is immigration successfully portrayed as an investment in the future, and when is it seen as a cultural threat to national unity, identity, and stability? Is the cultural threat also an economic one, by shifting labor market participation, societal demographics, and the demand for particular welfare services?
3. Partisanship and immigration
European electoral data shows that the rise in immigration flows and the surge in electoral support for populist parties are closely aligned. In the United States, immigration has become an enormously salient political issue, manifested in continuing debates over border security, the enforcement of existing laws, economic competition, DACA, and the legal status of immigrants.
How do political actors use immigration as an electoral issue? How does immigration feed into voting, policies, and partisan shifts? What are the conduits by which immigration influences politics: advocacy groups, political parties, institutions? Does immigration drive polarization—and does polarization produce distinct immigration policies? What are the determinants of the public support for immigration?
4. Immigrant communities
Immigration has changed: when immigrants came to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, they did so from and to specific countries, with strictly controlled quotas and subsequent civic rights. Immigration in the 21st century has come in multinational waves, and individual countries have been less able to manage it using the tools used earlier. EU integration here has meant greater labor mobility, and a far greater backlash against a perceived impotence of domestic governments to manage and control this immigration.
How have the shifting patterns of immigration changed the political, economic, and cultural status of immigrants? What are the strategies of incorporation, political mobilization, and self-protection used by immigrant communities? How has the rise of populism led to new responses by native populations? To what extent can we talk about “immigrant communities” at all, given the shifting nature of immigration, especially to Europe?

Workshop Program

-- 8:30-9:00 AM : Breakfast --

9:00-10:30 AM: Panel 1 -- The Political Economy of Immigration, chaired by Anna Grzymala-Busse

  • Frank Fukuyama, “Disaggregating Opposition to Immigration”
  • Sasha Polakow-Suransky, “Closed Borders, Open Coffers: The Nativist Nanny State and the Rebranding of the European Right”
  • Eric Weinstein, “A Pair of Radical Approaches to Immigration: One Expansionist, One Reductionist”


-- 10:30-10:45 AM: Coffee Break --

10:45-12:15 PM: Panel 2 -- Immigration as a Cultural Threat? - chaired by Francis Fukuyama

  • Patrick Chamorel, “European Public Opinion on Populism, Immigration, and Integration”
  • Alexandra Filindra, “Of Regimes and Rhinoceroses: Immigration, Outgroup Prejudice, and the Micro-foundations of Democratic Decline
  • David Laitin, “Populism: the Muslim Connection”


-- 12:15-1:30 PM: Lunch --

1:30-3:00 PM: Panel 3 -- Partisanship, Regimes and Immigration, chaired by Didi Kuo

  • Sara Wallace Goodman, “Legislating Identity and the Liberal Democratic Dilemma”
  • Zoltan Hajnal, “Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Backlash in a Broader Perspective”
  • Tom Pepinsky, “Colonial Migration and the Roots of Populism in Asia”


-- 3:00-3:15 PM: Coffee Break --

3:15-4:45 PM: Panel 4 -- Immigrant communities as agents and targets, chaired by Mike McFaul

  • Claire Adida, “Becoming Black? Understanding Immigrant Resistance to Assimilation in the US”
  • Elizabeth Cohen “Keeping Immigrants in Line: Queuing Frames and anti-immigrant politics”
  • Justin Gest, “Immigration and the Defense of White Identity”


4:45-5:00 PM: Concluding remarks

-- 6:00 PM: Dinner --


Workshop Logistics

The conference will take place in the 2nd floor conference room of Encina Hall at Stanford University. 

  • Street address. 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Getting around campus. View searchable Stanford map for parking, building locations, places to eat, other sites of interest.
  • Contact for participants. For questions regarding conference logistics, please contact Anya Shkurko at


"Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?"

    Conference Overview
  • Conference Overview
  • Conference Program
  • Conference Logistics

Conference Overview

In the upcoming conference, “Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?” we will focus on the following critical issues:

Conceptualizing the threat. How much of a threat to democracy is populism? Where, when, and how?  What is the nature of this threat, and how can it be stopped? How do we conceive of populism, and how useful have these conceptualizations been? 

How do populisms arise and succeed? What are the historical and comparative perspectives on the recent rise of populism? What are the different factors that produced populism in each setting?  Equally importantly, why have populist parties arisen in some countries but not others? 

Populism in America. The United States has had a long history of populist rhetoric, populist movements, and populist entrepreneurs. How unique is it?   A historical perspective here is critical in two ways: first, it helps us to identify useful historical analogies. Second, it emphasizes the study of the societal, economic, and political mechanisms and processes that together make for a coherent narrative of the rise of illiberal threats.

Is there a “populist international”? To what extent do we see international linkages, whether emanating from Russia or from regional coordination, in the recent rise of populism? The emergence of an “illiberal international” anchored in Moscow appears to have won many allies throughout Europe and the United States, yet the connections between these politicians and parties are not clear. Do these movements share a common ideology, or are their affinities superficial and ephemeral?

Constructing economic threats. What is the role of the changing labor markets?  How are fiscal and economic problems constructed politically, and by whom? How does immigration, technology, shifts in industrial production, and international trade contribute to the rise of populism? How does the EU or other regional organizations contribute to the rise of populism or hamper its growth? 

Conference Program


8:45-10:30  Panel 1: Populism as a Threat — Chaired by Anna Grzymala-Busse

  • Sheri BermanProfessor of Political Science, Barnard College | Columbia University, "Populism Is a Symptom Rather Than a Cause: The Decline of the Center-left and Rise of Threats to Liberal Democracy"
  • John CareyProfessor of Government, Dartmouth College, "The Health of American Democracy: Comparing Perceptions of Experts and the American Public"
  • Larry DiamondSenior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute and Hoover Institution, Stanford University, "When Does Populism Become a Threat to Democracy?"
  • Niall FergusonSenior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, "Populism: Content and Form”
  • Rick PerlsteinJournalist and bestselling author, "Why Populism Should Not Be an Epithet"

— 10:30-10:45: Coffee break —

10:45-12:30  Panel 2: American Populism — Chaired by Didi Kuo

  • Julia AzariAssociate Professor of Political Science, Marquette University, "The Political Geography of American Populism” 
  • David KennedyDonald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford University, “The Paradoxes of American Populism”
  • Kirk HawkinsAssociate Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University, "Populism in Comparative Perspective: America and the 2016 Presidential Election”
  • Rob Mickey, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, “Anti-anti Populism, or: The Threat of Populism to U.S. Democracy Is Exaggerated”
  • Rick ValellyClaude C. Smith '14 Professor of Political Science, Swarthmore College, “The Populist Scare of the 1890s -- And the Aftermath that Changed American Populism"

— 12:30-1:30: Lunch —

1:30-3:15  Panel 3: Comparative Perspectives  — Chaired by Matthias Matthijs

  • Anna Grzymala-BusseMichelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies and Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute, “Populism and the Erosion of Democracy in Poland and Hungary”
  • Steve Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University, “Populism and Competitive Authoritarianism”
  • Kenneth Roberts, Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government, Cornell University, "Bipolar Disorders: Varieties of Capitalism and Populist Out-flanking on the Left and Right”
  • Milada VachudovaAssociate Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, "From Competition to Polarization: How Populists Change Party Systems to Concentrate Power”
  • Julie Lynch, University of Pennsylvania, “Populism, Partisan Convergence, and Redistribution in Western Europe”

— 3:15-3:30: Coffee break —

3:30-5:00  Panel 4: International Linkages  — Chaired by Michael McFaul

  • Valerie BunceAaron Binenkorb Professor of International Studies and Professor of Government, Cornell University, "The Putin Regime, Populism Promotion, and the 2016 US Presidential Election"
  • Francis FukuyamaOlivier-Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University "Populism and Identity"
  • Kathleen McNamaraProfessor of Government and Foreign Service, Georgetown University, "When the Banal Becomes Political: the EU in the Age of Populism”
  • Kathryn StonerSenior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute and Hoover Institution, Stanford University,  "Vladimir Putin’s Populism, Russia’s Revival, and Liberalism Lost"
  • Lucan WayProfessor, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, "Is Russia a Threat to Western Democracy? Russian Intervention in Foreign Elections, 1991-2017"



 9:00-11:00  Panel 5: Inequality, Investment and Economic Strain — Chaired by Francis Fukuyama

  • Kathy CramerProfessor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin — Madison, "The Views of Populists: What Trump Voters’ Perspectives and Perceptions of Trump Voters Tell Us about the Threat of Populism to U.S. Democracy"
  • Didi Kuo, Research Scholar, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, “Parties, Policy Convergence and the Challenges of Finance Capitalism”
  • Margaret LeviProfessor of Political Science, Stanford University, "Labor Unions as Critical Intermediate Associations”
  • Pia MalaneySenior Economist, Institute for New Economic Thinking, "Economic Nationalism as a Driving Force of Populism in the U.S.”
  • Kenneth ScheveProfessor of Political Science and Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University "The Economic Origins of Authoritarian Values: Evidence from Local Trade Shocks in the United Kingdom”

— 11-1 pm Lunch and concluding discussion —

  • All participants: "Where to Take the Study of Populism?"

Conference Logistics

The conference will take place in the 2nd floor conference room of Encina Hall at Stanford University. 

(650) 725-7007
  • Street address. 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Getting around campus. View searchable Stanford map for parking, building locations, places to eat, other sites of interest.
  • Contact for participants. For questions regarding conference logistics, please contact Anya Shkurko at