International Sociology and International Sociology Reviews

Topic of the Month, July 2021

‘Populism’ is our Topic of the Month for July 2021. On this topic, enjoy Free Access all month to this article by Patrick Heller (Watson Institute of International Studies and Public Affairs, Brown University, USA) published in International Sociology, The age of reaction: Retrenchment Populism in India and Brazil. Read on to know more about the author’s trajectory and work.

Patrick Heller

Why are you working on this topic? Could you share an experience, a fact or a person who made you get engage on that research?
P. Heller:
In December 2000 I visited the sites in New Delhi where Muslim women were protesting against the Citizens Amendment Act. Passed by the BJP government, the Act is broadly seen by Muslims in India as a threat to their status as citizens. It triggered broad-based protests at which protesters would read from the preamble of the Indian constitution, reaffirming its core principles of pluralistic inclusion. The threat to Indian democracy was never made so palpable to me and I was also reminded of very similar protests against Bolsonaro in Brazil. At no time in the democratic history have these two vibrant democracies been in such danger and in both cases the threat has come from regimes that are openly hostile to pluralism and human rights.

Do you have any video, recorded conference, or online material that you would like us to share with others?
P. Heller: 
Here is a podcast with the director of the Centre for Policy Research, Yamini Aiyar, where I talk about the anti-Citizens Amendment Act protests:

What would you emphasize about your academic trajectory? Can you highlight which have been your academic positions, universities, awards, departments and research centers please?
P. Heller: 
I am the Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences and professor of Sociology and International Studies. I am the director of the development research program at the Watson Institute of International Studies and Public Affairs. My main area of research is the comparative study of social inequality and democratic deepening. I am the author of The Labor of Development: Workers in the Transformation of Capitalism in Kerala, India (Cornell 1999) and co-author of Social Democracy in the Global Periphery (Cambridge 2006), Bootstrapping Democracy: Transforming Local Governance and Civil Society in Brazil (Stanford 2011) and most recently, Deliberation and Development: Rethinking the Role of Voice and Collective Action in Unequal Societies. I have published articles on urbanization, comparative democracy, social movements, development policy, civil society and state transformation. My most recent project, Cities of Delhi, conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research, explores the dynamics of governance and social exclusion in India’s capital.
I teach Theory and Research in Development, Contemporary Sociological Theory, Comparative Political Sociology, the Sociology of Power, and Globalization and Social Conflict.

For more information about the author’s work and to follow him on social media:
Personal website:
Twitter: @PatrickHeller1