First PSA Lecturer Addresses Populism's Many Faces

January 26, 2011

Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honor society, began its lecture series on populism this semester with a talk by Dr. Dwayne Woods of Purdue University on January 26, 2011. Dr. Woods entitled his talk "The Many Faces of Populism: Do they all look alike?"

Since Dr. Woods' research interests span several regions, particularly Western Europe, his lecture emphasized Northern Italian populism.  He shared insights with Wesleyan students regarding the Northern League in Italy, in keeping with his current research on identity politics, globalization, and international migration.

Students had the opportunity to engage the current body of political science literature on populism through Dr. Woods' lecture. Populism has piqued the interest of many in the field of political science in recent years, with a surge of strong right-wing populist movement in Europe, as well as the rise of the Tea Party movement in America.  Especially in the identity-focused European populist parties, populism can take on any number of faces and blend easily with many ideologies. Dwayne Woods' research on the Northern Italian face of populism highlighted some of the key characteristics of populism movements, and evoked a discussion of the importance of a more thorough understanding of populism and its relationship to identity.