After the well-deserved summer break, at the end of August 2022 several researchers at HEPP travelled to the city of Innsbruck in the mountainous region of Tyrol, Austria, to participate in the first in-person General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HEPP panel, organized and chaired by Now-time, Us-space (NTUS) researcher Sabine Volk, set out to explore some of the spatial-temporal bases of populist and radical right mobilisations in Europe. As such, it kicked off the large conference section on “Conspiring Elites and Disgruntled Masses? Revisiting the Populist and Extremist Challenges to Democracy”, endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group “Extremism and Democracy”.
Gathering both HEPPsters and international researchers working on related topics, the panel featured five presentations and a lively discussion. Following Antonio Masala’s (University of Pisa) theoretical discussion on “Populism and Political Trust in the Age of Communication”, Shane Murphy (Dublin City University) presented original research co-authored with WhiKnow/DRad affiliated researcher Emilia Lounela on “Constructing a Collective Incel Subjectivity”. NTUS researchers also presented their work-in-progress, namely on “Hegemonic Re-articulations of National Myths in Romania and Serbia” (Marina Vulovic and Ionut Chiruta), and on “Far-right Digital Activism During and Beyond pandemic” (Sabine Volk). Not least, HEPP’s PI Emilia Palonen presented co-authored work on “Performing Parliamentary Radicalism on YouTube”.
Beyond this panel, HEPPsters were much involved in several further conference events: Next to her own presentation, Emilia Palonen chaired a timely discussion on “Democratic Resilience in the Visegrad Four”, and commented on papers examining “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Democratic Erosion”. Together with Shane Murphy, Emilia Lounela also presented on “Negotiating Violence in Incel Online Discussions of the Plymouth Shooting” in a panel focusing on “Motivational Beliefs and Political Violence”. Marina Vulovic talked about “Contesting Sovereignties in Northern Kosovo and the Åland Islands” in a session on “Theorizing Sovereignty and Statehood”. Finally, Ionut Chiruta gave even two more presentations, sharing further insights from his work on “Populism, Nationalism, and Kin-state Activism: Measuring the Perception of the Ethnic Széklers from Romania” in a panel on “Voters' Behaviour in Sub-National Politics”, and on “Rituals of Rebellions and Counter-Hegemonic Narratives During Anti-Coronavirus Protests” in an event on “Hate Speech, Hate Crime and Violent Extremism”.
The one-week onsite conference with its dense panel program, engaging keynote speeches, and uncounted networking events was yet another occasion for HEPPsters to strengthen their ties with international researchers and institutions. Thanks to the beautiful surroundings in the picturesque city of Innsbruck that allowed for cable car tours and small walks up the mountain during the lunch break, #ECPRGC22 was a really unforgettable experience for everybody engaging with colleagues from across Europe and in different fields and career phases.