How does populism reshape pluralism and marginality in liberal democracies? – 5in10 with Felipe Hernández
Felipe Hernández holds a PhD in History and Civilizations and Political Science. He is a re:constitution Fellow 2020/21 at the Forum Transregionale Studien with a project on “Populism, Pluralism, Marginality: Latin America and Southeastern Europe in Comparative Perspective”. Felipe has worked as a Research and Teaching Officer at the Institute for European Studies (IEE), Université Paris 8 and as a Lecturer at the Université Paris-Saclay. His research interests include populism, civil society, ethnic conflicts, minorities, comparative area studies, Latin America and Southeastern Europe.
What was intriguing to you when you were a child? What is it that you always wanted to know about the world?
I grew up surrounded by an ethnic, linguistic and cultural richness that awakened a deep interest concerning the ebb and flow of connection and conflict in a society, a balance that can lead to progress or decline. Today, I am convinced that this environment led me to pursue a career in the social sciences. Exploring what it is that allows a society to live together and maintain a certain social cohesion has always intrigued me.
How do you explain your current research project to your students?
I am currently working on a project focused on how populist movements reshape pluralism and marginality in societies with liberal democracies. I have chosen Latin America—specifically the Andean region—and Southeastern Europe to conduct my research. These two areas with very different historical backgrounds are constantly questioning how to create a political and social framework that allows their inhabitants to treat each other as fellow citizens and not as representatives of antagonist groups with social-economic, ethnic or religious affiliations. I like to emphasize the fact that societies are “complex systems” in transformation in which all their components interact with each other.
Which stations of your academic journey were particularly formative to you?
Very good question because my work is the fruit of encountering many different places and people. I started my studies in Colombia, then transferred to Paris to continue my Master’s and my PhD, the latter allowing me to live in Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia to carry out my fieldwork. This adventure has been enriched by postdoctoral projects in Germany, Italy and England. This is why I think that Latin America and Europe have been central to my research. A large number of people along the way—intellectuals, civil society leaders, political personalities, and others—have undoubtedly contributed to my academic experience; they represent “micro-worlds” that allowed me to become aware of other social realities.
How are you “doing” research? What are your most important research methods?
I adopt an interdisciplinary approach and a transnational perspective to my research work by seeking to connect social experiences across geographical, cultural or political boundaries. I try to work with first-hand information: interviews, direct observation, written and audio-visual archives. All the variables and constants allows me to analyze social fields and ultimately reveals global transformations in a given period of history.
Which academic or public debates have inspired you recently?
There are a large number of events that allow me to follow current debates on topics of interest to me. They range from international events such as the World Social Forum where the presence of civil society is fundamental to conferences or research work by academic groups interested in global issues. I think that one of the key issues of our time has to do with the way societies organize themselves to face challenges such as pluralism, democracy, environment, rule of the law, among others.
Citation: How does populism reshape pluralism and marginality in liberal democracies? – 5in10 with Felipe Hernández, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 09.03.2021, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/26979