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This panel invites contributions from across the European region and its periphery to ask: At what scale are disenchanted blocs of the electorate locating blame for the perceived failures of European liberal democratic politics? And to which alternative actors are they turning for solutions?
This panel responds to mounting public and academic speculation that we are witnessing a crisis in the legitimacy of European liberal democratic politics. It asks: At what scale are European interlocutors identifying the locus of blame for the perceived failures of liberal democratic institutions and party-political actors? In the wake of which national and international crises? And to what supra-national, national, or intra-national institutions and bodies are disenchanted blocs of the electorate turning for alternatives to the political status quo? Are these institutions and bodies understood as 'outside' of politics, or as interruptions to politics as usual? Why do interlocutors place their faith in these alternative actors, and by what moral and political rubrics are they deemed suitably responsible custodians of public trust? This panel therefore queries whether political movements in the European region often described as reactionary, populist, ethnonationalist, and/or secular might in fact be cracking open space for novel ideological realignments. The aim is to better understand everyday commitments to, and scepticism of, powerful political actors in institutions including, but not limited to, church, state, financial bodies, and the European Union. To that extent, ethnographic contributions are invited from across the European region, and its periphery, to examine emerging judgments regarding what counts as legitimate political power and for whom. Taken together, these cases will be mined for insight regarding what distinctive empirical and theoretical contributions anthropology might offer interdisciplinary debates on the putative crisis of trust in European liberal democracy.