Past Shadows: German Populism Today

Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020

1:30pm - 3:30pm

Lecture by:
James Skidmore

Like so many other nations, Germany’s recent history has been marked by a rise in populist movements. Parties with strong populist ties, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD – Alternative for Germany) being the most recent example, threaten to disrupt the hard-won social consensus that sought to make sense of and atone for the crimes of Nazi Germany. The development of these mass political movements would seem to indicate that this consensus is fragile.
This lecture will revisit Germany’s past in order to see if pre-1945 German culture provides any clues about the current political situation. And while one must recognize, to use political scientist Sheri Berman’s words, that “populism is not fascism,” we do well to understand the relationship between the two ideas and how the one can lay the groundwork for the other. We will also look at Germany’s history of leftist populism and how it has affected modern-day politics.

About The Lecturer

James Skidmore

James Skidmore is Director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies at the University of Waterloo. After receiving his PhD from Princeton University, Prof. Skidmore taught at the University of New Brunswick and Wilfrid Laurier University before joining the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at Waterloo. His research and teaching interests centre on the representation of political and social issues in literature and film. In addition to his work in German studies, Prof. Skidmore has been active in the fields of online and open education.