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Religion, Anti-Gender Mobilization and Radical Right Populism

This year the SISP conference will not take place as planned due to the covid-19 emergency. Therefore, this CfP is an initiative of the SISP Section “Political Participation and Social Movements” and the related Standing Group.

The vast literature on the rise of illiberalism, populism and radical right politics in contemporary democracies has predominantly dealt with the topic of religion in two ways. Firstly, by looking at the ways in which the populist radical right parties (ab)use religion for their own strategic purposes — as a source of legitimation and a cultural identity marker against non-Christian immigrants. Secondly, by analyzing the role of religious diversity and religiosity in the demand side of populist politics and electoral behavior. However, the role of religious actors, their strategic choices, frames and efforts to politicize civil society, as well as the importance of religious networks and transnational links has mostly been overlooked by scholars working on radical right populism. Moving beyond party politics, churches and their networks play a crucial role as political actors in creating a new illiberal wave of anti-gender mobilization, and have made strategic alliances with the populist radical right. The “gender ideology” frame, concocted at the heart of the Vatican, has been used to unite the radical right, as a call to arms to protect and champion a nationalist and ultraconservative vision of a heteropatriarchal society.

Against this theoretical background, the panel aims at bringing studies from different disciplines and approaches (qualitative and quantitative) which focus on religion, gender, social movements and radical right politics. The global rise of the anti-gender movement has shown the vast resources and capacity of religious actors in innovating frames, discourses as well as repertoires of action to combat gender and LGBTQ equality, sexual and reproductive rights of women, health and civic education — to name only a few issues of contention. Different Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox networks have used the global dimension and dispersion of religion to create a new transnational radical right movement. Wishing to complement the current debates in the field, we are particularly interested in the following themes:

  • Relations between religious actors mobilizing against “gender” and populist radical right movements/parties
  • The transnationalization of religious right-wing movements (i.e. diffusion, cooperation, joint collective action)
  • Theorizing on the relation between radical right populism and anti-gender mobilization
  • The construction of the “gender ideology” frame in populist discourses and its impact on policy
  • The movement-countermovement dynamics between the anti-gender and feminist/LGBT+ movements

The panel will take place on Meet on 9 September, 2020 (time: 10-12) (invitation will follow after the selection of the papers). It welcomes theoretical and empirical contributions from various fields (political science, political sociology, cultural studies, antropology) and from various methodological approaches.
The deadline for paper proposals is 15 July, 2020. Please send an abstract (max. 500 words) together with a short bio to manuela.caiani@sns.it and ivan.tranfic@sns.it .
Notification of acceptance will be sent by the 15 August, 2020.
There is no registration fee.
The panel will be recorded as a SISP event and advertise on the SISP section Political Participation and Social Movements website https://standinggroups.sisp.it/movimentisociali/