Call for Applications: IWM Summer School 2020


Deadline: 22 March 2020

A key to democracy’s resilience is its capacity to accommodate a diverse array of politics. Historically, democratic institutions and mechanisms have shown themselves to be compatible with a variety of modes of governance, such as liberal, conservative, social-democratic, and populist. Despite this compatibility, democracy appears to be under duress today, its most potent threats seen as stemming from the global resurgence of populism. In this framing, democracy’s assailants are often seen as ideologically motivated ethno-nationalists and its defenders as liberals, deeply invested in civil society and individual rights. Against this binary, this year’s summer school will explore how different political parties and movements draw from and mobilize different sites of democratic legitimacy. Over the course of the week, we will address a few central questions:

  • What do legislative, judicial, and street democracy share, and where do they diverge?
  • How do liberalism and populism navigate these sites of democratic legitimacy? Where do they ground their legitimacy claims?
  • How are human rights expressed and secured within and across legislative, judicial, and street democracy?
  • As sites of mass participation, what is the relationship between elections and different forms of street democracy including protests, riots, and other kinds of direct action?
  • As dissatisfaction with democracy mounts and without the same grounding in mass participation, what is the role of the courts in promoting and securing democracy?
  • What is democracy’s temporal horizon in the legislature, the court, and the street?
  • How do these sites respond to demographic and cultural change?

To pursue these questions, the summer school offers the opportunity to work with leading democracy scholars across a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. This year’s visiting faculty include Craig Calhoun, Dilip Gaonkar, Ivan Krastev, Claudio Lomnitz, Shalini Randeria, Judit Sandor and Charles Taylor.

Each day, summer school participants will take part in three different sessions:

  • Lectures: each invited faculty member will give a lecture on their recent research as it relates to the central themes of the summer school. Each lecture will conclude with a question and answer period where students and faculty will have a chance to join the discussion.
  • Seminars: As a complement to the lectures, invited faculty will lead a seminar for the summer school participants. The aim of the seminars is to revisit foundational works and introduce new scholarship in order to provide common texts for a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary discussion. Readings will be circulated in advance.
  • Presentations: In smaller groups, participants will present their research and receive feedback from faculty.

We invite applications from humanities and social science PhD students, post-docs, and junior faculty who have received their PhD within the last five years. The summer school reserves one third of available spaces for applicants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Applicants must submit a CV, a letter of motivation, and a letter of recommendation via the applications platform. Please submit all your application materials as PDF files!