Navigating between nostalgic nativism and hopeful liberalism

Promises and Pitfalls of Liberalism

Liberalism has been much maligned in the last decade for its failure to provide people with a sense of collective identity and meaning. But for many people, liberal ideas themselves provide this meaning. In this interdisciplinary exchange, two books are discussed that, respectively, explore the extraordinary rise of nativism in liberal societies, and the possibilities for revivifying liberal ideals in a changing world.

The event begins with a short introduction of The Return of the Native: Can Liberalism Safeguard Us Against Nativism? (Duyvendak & Kesic, with Stacey 2023) by one of its authors, Josip Kesic. This introduction is followed by two discussants and a response from Jan Willem Duyvendak. The Return of the Native explores the extraordinary rise of nativism in liberal settings, paying particular attention to nativist narratives that intertwine islamophobia, racism, populism and nostalgia.

Timothy Stacey will then introduce his Saving Liberalism From Itself: The Spirit of Political Participation (2022). Stacey suggests that responding to populism requires carefully attending to the meaning-making practices of liberally oriented people living in Western societies. By way of beginning this work, he explores the myths, rituals, magic, and traditions people draw on as they seek to build solidarity in diverse settings. Stacey’s presentation is followed by two discussants and a general discussion with the public.

About the authors

Jan Willem Duyvendak is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Since 2018, he is also director of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (NIAS-KNAW). In 2021, he was elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and in 2022 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Josip Kesic is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES), University of Amsterdam, where he currently finishes his doctoral research European Peripheries: continuities, commonalities and conflicts in cultural stereotyping of Spain and the South-Slavic region. He also works as a researcher and lecturer at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences. Besides political nativism, his interests include cultural nationalism and imagology.

Timothy Stacey is Researcher and Lecturer at the Urban Futures Studio, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria, Canada.

About the speakers

Yolande Jansen is Associate Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and a board member of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalization Studies. She also is a Special Professor for the Socrates-foundation at VU University, where she holds the chair for ‘humanism in relation to religion and secularity’.

Matthijs Rooduijn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD from the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). His research interests are in parties, voters, socio-political divides and public opinion.

Irene Stengs is senior researcher at the Meertens Instituut (KNAW) and, professor by special appointment Anthropology of Ritual and Popular Culture at the Vrije Universiteit. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Her research in the Netherlands and Thailand focuses on popular religiosity, material culture, commemorative ritual and processes of heritage formation.

Tamar de Waal is assistant professor at the Amsterdam Law School of the University of Amsterdam. She is director of the Amsterdam Honours College of Law. She also writes the In Den Haag-column in De Groene Amsterdammer (triweekly). She specializes in (multi-level) citizenship, integration, civic education and interdisciplinairy legal research methods.

With the code 10SPUI25 you can get a 10% discount on The Return of the Native and Saving Liberalism from Itself at

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