Prof Andrea Pető: Lessons Learned from Gendering Illiberalism
This talk aims to analyse the complex relationship between gender and illiberalism, discussing reasons why both illiberalism and the category of gender are difficult to grasp. It argues that the present form of illiberalism is a joint result of the structural failures of the European (neo)liberal democratic project, the dark legacy of European history, and the complexities of the concept of gender. It reviews the recent research on how illiberal governance is produced and sustained on the level of ideology, discourse, strategies, policies, and financial operations that have come engaged with these issues from different directions. It explains that the ‘illiberal offer’ is widely attractive because it allows for identification with the individual’s own choices and promises a safe and secure community as a remedy for individualism and social atomization. Lastly, the talk argues that gender works as a kind of ‘symbolic glue’ for illiberal states. It concludes that illiberalism should not be perceived as a revival of authoritarianism, but rather a new form of governance resting on previous democratic concepts and institutions – all of them are gendered – and warns about the consequences of illiberal science policies.