Upcoming FinDem seminar: Dr. Nicole Curato

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Nicole Curato from the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra, to give a presentation titled ‘Beyond Demagogues and Deplorables: The Space for Deliberative Reason in Populist Rhetoric’.

Time and place: 15th September, 14.00, Publicum, 2nd floor, room sh. 299.


There are many reasons to think of populism as the opposite of deliberation. Populism appeals to base instincts, sacrificing intellectual rigour and slow thinking in favour of quick solutions. Its polarising speech style creates information silos which bond rather than bridge opposing views. Inherent to the populist logic is the division of the ‘virtuous people’ versus the ‘dangerous other,’ which inflames prejudices and misinformation instead of promoting public reasoning as ways of determining the common good.

In this presentation, Curato challenges the populism-deliberation dichotomy by offering methodological and empirical interventions. Methodologically, she proposes to shift the gaze from the populist leader to the populist publics, as well as their mediated relationship. This, Curato argues, provides a more complex understanding of the relational and negotiated character of populist claims, instead of depicting them as top-down, manipulative, and homogenously spiteful rhetoric.

Empirically, Curato argues that ethnographic research on populist publics open a discussion on possible spaces for the democratisation of populist claims. She offers three conjectures. First, there is potential for discursive pluralism in populism. Second, populism can give voice to unspeakable grievances and render deliberative politics more inclusive. Third, populism forces a rethinking of deliberative claim-making, particularly its focus on voice and text, by foregrounding the roles of passion, presence and visceral forms of communication.

These conjectures are based on research findings from her ethnographic research in the Philippines and a review of ethnographic research of populist movements around the world.

Nicole Curato is an Australian Research Council Research Fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra. Her work on deliberative democracy has been published in journals including Policy Sciences, International Political Science Review, and Acta Politica, among others. She is the editor of The Duterte Reader (2017, Cornell University Press), the first book about the return of the strongman in Philippine politics.