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University of Bermen
Soft Authoritarianisms Research Group
Worlds of Contradictions
Course date
July 15–20, 2024
Application deadline
The application deadline has passed. We are no longer accepting applications.
ECTS Credits
Course delivery
SUN Packages
Tuition Waiver
Partial Scholarship
Full Scholarship

Conservative governments and far-right movements across different country contexts share a set of strikingly similar strategies that can be summed up as ‘demographic imaginaries.’ They facilitate a backlash against progressive reproductive and women’s rights, same-sex marriage, and LGBT+ communities, the use of coercive policies and rhetoric against religious, ethnic, and other minorities, or anti-immigration policies. Demographic anxieties are nurtured by conspiracy myths such as the narrative of the “great replacement,” just as much as by other forms of majoritarian identity politics which imagine the majority (be it: white, Christian and heterosexual, Hindu National, Turkish Sunni Muslim, or European etc.) as threatened by political, ethnic, religious, sexual and other minorities and their struggles for equal rights. 

These demographic imaginaries are at the core of soft authoritarian attempts to reconstitute the body politic, transforming the population along ethnic and social lines to uphold the electoral majority. A wide range of tactics from gerrymandering to neo-Malthusian development policies and population control, anti-abortion legislation, anti- and pro-natalist discourses and policies, are used to secure power. By the inherently contradictory concept of soft authoritarianism, we mean to emphasize the specific ways in which democracies are currently being undermined from within. It describes a specific form of government that deliberately blurs the lines between democratic and authoritarian rule. 

This Summer School will address the central role of these demographic imaginaries in facilitating soft authoritarian politics in different parts of the world. It aims to approach this topic from an interdisciplinary and globally comparative perspective. Looking into the specific political, juridical, cultural, technological, and discursive practices in the different country contexts, it will problematize how these narratives and policies remain entangled with longstanding nationalist, racist, and sexist notions and colonial fantasies. It will examine how they are reframed today and the technological infrastructures and data-political presumptions they involve. The Summer School therefore has the overall goal of grasping the extent of these politics, their contradictions and effects, and the dangers that they entail for democratic and peaceful living together. 

The six-day Summer School offers participants an outstanding learning environment with an international faculty of renowned scholars in their respective fields. The intensive interdisciplinary program is composed of five thematic modules and a range of pedagogical formats including keynote lectures and panel discussions, interactive workshop sessions, and group sessions, in which participants can closely discuss their own research interests and projects with their peers and faculty members, as well as a Academia-meets-Activism event. The program aims to enhance the participants’ critical engagement with a variety of cutting-edge approaches and foster lasting collaborative international exchange among students and scholars from the Global South and North. 

Target Group 
The course invites applications from MA students, PhD candidates, and Postdocs from Linguistics, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Geography, Law, and Philosophy, and related fields of study. Applications from advanced undergraduate students who have adequate prior study or engagement experience on the subject and make a compelling case in their application/statement of interest will also be considered.   

Language requirements 

The language of instruction is English; thus all applicants have to demonstrate a strong command of spoken and written English to be able to participate actively in discussions at seminars and workshops. Some of the shortlisted applicants may be contacted for a telephone interview.   

This course will focus on the following discipline areas:

  • Linguistics
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Political science
  • Geography
  • Law and Philosophy 

Please read the following directions carefully.  

Below is the list of the documents you need to prepare or arrange for submission: 

  1. Completed Online SUN Application Form (see notes below) 
  2. Full Curriculum Vitae or Resume, including a List of Publications, if any
  3. A Short Bio (250 words) 
  4. Statement of Purpose (max. 500 words)
    In the Statement of purpose, please describe how the course is relevant to your teaching, research, or professional work, and in what way you expect to benefit from it. Please list relevant courses in the field you have taken previously during your studies.

    Please provide the name, contact email, and phone number of a person (a faculty member, job supervisor, etc.) who can be contacted by the course directors to attest to your abilities, qualifications, and academic/professional performance.
  5. Project Outline (250-300 words)
    Please give a brief description of your current or prospective research project and how it aligns with the the themes and objectives of the summer school.  
  6. Personal Statement on Financial Aid
    Those who are eligible and wish to apply for financial aid should specify their reasons in the “Personal statement on financial aid” section (Funding page of the application form).  

Optional Attachments:  

You can upload further optional documents on the Qualifications page such as academic documents that you think may be relevant to support your application in the "Other Supporting Documents" section. All documents should be merged into a single PDF file not exceeding the size 2 MB. No passwords and encryption are allowed. 

Completed CEU Summer University Application Form

We strongly advise the use of Google Chrome to enable the full functionality of the form.


  • You may apply to a maximum of two summer courses. In case of being admitted, you can only attend both if the two courses do not overlap in time.
  • If you applied to CEU before, please use your existing login and password to start a new application. If you do not remember your password from last year click on Forgotten Password. With technical problems, bugs, or errors related to the online application forms please contact the CEU IT Help Desk.
  • Right after login, please select the ”Summer University” radio button from the "Type of course" list, and leave all other fields empty.
  • All application materials must be submitted with the online application form(s). Materials sent by postal mail, electronic mail, or fax are not considered.
  • The maximum allowable file size for upload is 2MB per file and the acceptable file formats are PDF, JPG, and JPEG. Ensure all security features (e.g. passwords and encryption) are removed from the documents before uploading them.
  • Applications cannot be edited after submission. Please submit your application only when it is 100% final and complete.
  • Further user instructions for the online application are included in the form itself. Should you have questions regarding the application form, check the relevant Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


If you need help or more information during the application process, please feel free to contact the SUN staff via email.


The SUN Office will notify applicants about the selection results in April. Please check the 'Dates and deadlines' section on the relevant course websites for notification deadlines planned earlier or later. The final decision is not open to appeal.