Where Religion and Populism Collide: A Global Perspective

Where Religion and Populism Collide: A Global Perspective

Virtual Briefing Series

September 8, 2022 | 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET

Religious identity has played a vital role in global populist discourse for over 30 years. This interplay has created “us” vs. “them” dichotomies in the U.S. and around the world and provided a foundation that populist leaders have used to convene a receptive audience. Join us on September 8th at 11:30 AM EDT, where we will examine the intersection of religion and populism, and dive deep into how this intersection provides populist leaders around the world with the platforms they need in order to use religion to define national and civilizational identity and advance their populist imperatives. Leading this discussion is Kalpana Jain, Award-winning Journalist and Senior Ethics and Religion Editor at The Conversation US, and Jocelyn Cesari, Professor of religion and politics and Director of research at the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Birmingham.

COULDN’T ATTEND OUR EVENT? Don’t worry. You can watch it below



Jocelyne Cesari, April 2022, Why It’s Time to Stop Calling the January 6 Riots ‘Religious Nationalism’, Newsweek

Jocelyne Cesari, Autumn/Winter 2021, God and Caesar: A Never-ending Competition, Harvard Divinity Bulletin

Cesari, J. (2021). We God’s People: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in the World of Nations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108554466

Understanding Religion and PopuLism, Kalpana Jain, Webinar at Barkley Center on March 5, 2021


Jocelyne Cesari

Jocelyne Cesari holds the Chair of Religion and Politics at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. At Georgetown University, she is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Since 2018, she has been the T. J. Dermot Dunphy Visiting Professor of Religion, Violence, and Peacebuilding at Harvard Divinity School. President elect of the European Academy of Religion (2018-19), her work on religion and politics has garnered recognition and awards: 2020 Distinguished Scholar of the religion section of the International Studies Association, Distinguished Fellow of the Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs and the Royal Society for Arts in the United Kingdom.
Her most recent publications are: We God’s People: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism in the World of Nations, (Cambridge University Press 2022), What is Political Islam? (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2018 book award of the International Studies Association); Islam, Gender and Democracy in a Comparative Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2017), co-authored with Jose Casanova.
Her recent achievements include:
• Elected Officer of the Council of the Scientific Society for the Study of Religion, 2021-26
• Chair-Elect of the Religion and IR Section of the International Studies Association (ISA), 2022-24
• Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, London, 2017-Present
• Distinguished Scholar of the Religion and International Relations Section of the ISA, 2020
• Book Award of the Religion and IR Section of the International Studies Association, 2019
• President-Elect of the European Academy of Religion, 2018-19
• Professorial Fellow at the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University, 2017-22
• Nominated member of the Newsweek Expert Forum, 2021-Present


Kalpana Jain

Kalpana Jain is an award-winning journalist and author. She is currently the senior ethics and religion editor, at The Conversation US, a global news website. She writes on Hindu nationalism and social justice issues. Her reporting at The Times of India played a significant role in elevating public health as an important topic of news coverage and led to many policy changes in India. She was the first journalist in India to give a face to the HIV/AIDS epidemic through her book “Positive Lives,” published by Penguin in 2002. She was selected as a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 2008 and as a Mason fellow at Harvard Kennedy School in 2010. She is a Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting grantee. She is based in Cambridge Massachusetts but continues to travel and report in India. She believes, with her insights as a journalist into two countries ,– India and the U.S. she can help with more informed reporting. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Vox, Statnews, PRI’s The World, Sojourners, among others. She holds a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School.






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