Research seminar

of Center for Governance and Security Policies

It gives researchers in the country or abroad the opportunity to present their recent results to a wide audience. The center invites 6 researchers each year, and the events take place online or in person.

Dragoș Șamșudean

Conspiracy Theories (CT) and Security: WHAT are CTs? ABOUT WHAT are CTs? and WHY are CTs?

21 March 2024, 17.00 Room 304

The presentation will take 30 min., followed by a 30 min. Q&A session from the audience.

Conspiracy theories or conspiratory ideas continue to be a topic of interest within the field of international relations and security studies, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research conducted in the last two years indicates that the pandemic has given a new dynamic to conspiracy theories, researchers emphasizing both the adaptation of the conspiratorial discourse towards different digital technologies, as well as the effects of this phenomenon in crisis situations. During the presentation we will try to define conspiracy theories, map what they are about and highlight some of the possible explanations of the phenomenon, with an emphasis on the national security environment in Romania.

Dragoș Șamșudean is a teaching assistant within the Department of International Studies and Contemporary History. The presentation is part of the “Postdoctoral Advanced Fellowship-UBB” program, Babeș-Bolyay University no.21PFE/ 30.12.2021, ID: PFE-550-UBB

Past Events

Misinformation and Disinformation: Who Should We Believe? (17 January 2024)

Perry Haan has taught in eight countries outside the U.S. including the past 22 years in Tiffin University’s program in Bucharest.

Misinformation and disinformation are similar but different concepts that are attracting media attention. We will discuss how media, including social media, and governments are responding to misinformation and disinformation. As part of this, we will also discuss “puffery,” a tool used by marketers promote products and companies that is sometimes accused of deceiving customers.

Effectiveness of social media influencer communication (13 December 2023)

Dr. Delia Cristina Balaban is a communication sciences professor at FSPAC, within the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

In recent years a new category of actors with communicational relevance has emerged on social networks, influencers. Their name is associated with the notion of social influence, a notion discussed by R. Cialdini in his research in the field of social psychology. Influencers have changed the field of persuasive communication by simultaneously being content creators, digital audience managers and strategists. In this presentation we will discuss the implications of this phenomenon based on empirical research that has at its core the effects of communicating through influencers.

What is populism? From definitions to empirical approaches (9 November 2023)

Sergiu Mișcoiu is a professor at the Faculty of European Studies (Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca).

Charismatic personalisation of power, anti-elitism unleashed in all directions, constant invocation of the referendum, mobilisation of the “True People”, extolling the virtues of the common people, stigmatising minorities, denouncing global plots and conspiracies, the demonisation of opponents, the appeal to the values of the “millennia-old Nation” – this is a too short list of some of the striking developments that have taken place in recent years in both Ukraine and the United States, in both Brazil and Poland, in both France and Romania. With the proliferation of alternative forms of collective expression and public communication, the populist logic is gaining ground through its ideological flexibility and its apparent willingness to acknowledge, appreciate and represent ‘The People’ without criticising or judging them.

But what is populism? How much has this notion been abused and why does it need to be defined more precisely? What is its applicability and relevance today, when many personalities and parties considered populist are enjoying remarkable electoral success in many countries around the world? Finally, can politics exist without its populist dimension?

Cities as pioneers of disaster diplomacy: Izmir and the Earthquake in Turkey (19 October 2023)

Seckin Baris Gulmez is Associate Professor at Izmir Katip Celebi University.

This presentation tackles with the question whether and if so, how cities play an active role in disaster diplomacy. Disasters often take place in cities, but the scholarly literature rather treats them as passive receivers or local providers of disaster aid. Similarly, the literature on city diplomacy seldom focuses on the diplomatic actorness of cities in disaster times. This presentation establishes this missing link by focusing on the role of Izmir, the third biggest city in Turkey, in raising international awareness and harnessing support for coping with the damages of a massive earthquake in Turkey.

The Role of Language in Nazi Camps: A Source of Violence and a Form of Resistance (8 May 2023)

Salvatore Di Piazza teaches Philosophy of Language at the University of Palermo.

The philosophical literature consensually considers language to be that specifically human way through which power (and violence) can be exercised. Based on this assumption, the analysis aims to broaden the widely documented field of research on the violence in the concentration camps by focusing on the role of language. In doing, it makes use of traditional philosophic studies lenses in order to fine-tune the existing knowledge and specify the role the language played in Nazi camps. In direct connection to this main line of inquiry, two symmetrical research questions can be formulated: What did language represent in the Nazi camps? And What did Nazi camps represent for language? In order to provide an answer, first, the research maps the complex interactions between language, violence and power and, then, argues in favour of the Nazi camps’ experience as a paradigmatic case study in which violence was exercised through language but, at the same time, fought against and disempowered specifically through the use of language. By looking at the impact the Nazi camps had on language, the analysis also shows that camp experience impacts on language in the sense that it modifies it and, above all, it subjects it to violence.

How to build peace when the war is not over? Colombia’s violent democratization after the peace processes with M-19 and FARC-EP guerrilla groups (8 april 2023)

Juan Carlos Ríos is a PhD researcher in Political and Social Sciences at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia).

Colombia might be one of the few cases in the world where a long democratic tradition stands despite the persistently high levels of political violence. Power contestation between state actors, guerrilla groups and organized crime groups is at the core of several Latin American states; however, the Colombian case is remarkable for its large variety of guerrilla groups and the multiple state reforms that have accompanied the peace processes. This complex multi-actor conflict has evolved along with democratic institutions for over sixty years. Although state institutions are relatively weak, elections and bottom-up participatory processes do occur with relative stability and legitimacy. Even after demobilizing many guerrilla groups back in 1989-1991, and the FARC-EP in 2016, armed violence performed by non-state actors is a persistent reality in the country. 

Contending groups often resort to violence as they vie for power and control over resources and politics. Then, how to effectively promote participatory processes and public policies aiming at local peacebuilding when the armed conflict is not over? This seminar will discuss and present ideas related to this question, focusing the debate on the Colombian case.

Against or in favor of the new Tunisian regime? Map of local and international actors (9 march 2023)

Guadalupe Martínez Fuentes is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics at University of Granada

Since mid-2021, president Kais Saied has turned the tide of Tunisia’s transition to democracy towards a transition to a new form of regime, which is still difficult to categorise. Some call it hyper-presidentialism, considering the concentration of powers in the hands of the president and the eradication of institutions with check and balance capacity. Others see it as a new expression of constitutional authoritarian populism, given that constitutional formalities and populist rhetoric are used to cover up an authoritarian backslide. Others call it merely adhocracy, given that political improvisation seems to predominate in Saied’s ruling style at this late stage. While Saied regime is still under construction, the map of its local and international supporters and detractors remains fickle and confusing, as is the nature of the relationships between them. This seminar aims to clarify the configuration of this constellation of actors and encourage reflection on their possible influence as drivers towards the new regime consolidation, change or blockade.

Populism and the Diaspora Communities (8 december 2022)

Sorina Soare is Lecturer in Comparative Politics at University of Florence.

Populism and its varieties are widespread throughout the world. Populist parties, which were considered until recently fringe, have gradually become a common presence in Parliament and got sometimes involved in government coalition formation. In this context populism started to be understood beyond nationalism and considered a transnational phenomenon. In a first step, these phenomena were identified at the European level as it is the case with DieM25 or the movements Occupy Wall Street and Indignados. More recently, the transnational dimension of populism was linked to the strategies used by populist parties to mobilize successfully the communities of citizens who live abroad from their country of origin. This presentation aims to analyze the causes and the characteristics of the transnational mobilization explaining how and why populism becomes a transnational phenomenon. To identify possible answers, it will use elements of migration and party politics, with emphasis on real-life examples.

Democratic Innovations: a new solution to old problems? (24 november 2022)

Nanuli Silagadze is Post-doctoral fellow at Abo Akademi University, Finland.

The weaknesses of representative democracy are reflected in various facets around the globe: general political disenchantment of citizens, low confidence in political institutions, declining interest in politics with falling turnout, and decrease in party membership. As a consequence, a variety of democratic innovations have been implemented worldwide in order to cure this ‘malaise’. In this talk, we will touch upon the main tools of democratic innovations – direct democracy and deliberative democracy and reflect on their merits and challenges within the contemporary system of representative democracy.

Politics and Security after Secessionist Challenges: Catalonia and Spain Since 2017 (27 October 2022)

Oscar Barberà (Associate Professor in Political Science and Public Administration, University of Valencia)

The Catalan Secessionist Challenge started by the early 2010s with the Spanish Constitutional Court rule rejecting key points of a reform of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. Between 2012 and 2017, the seccessionist movement was able to mobilise large crowds, organise innovative demonstrations and rallies, and try to gain internantional legitimacy throguh two very controversial referendums (2014, 2017). The fall of 2017, fundamental institutional clashes between the Spanish and the Catalan institutions emerged. It also pointed out enormous security dilemas involving the role of the Spanish and Catalan police, the Spanish military as well as possible international interference from other countries. After 2017, the institutional and security challenges have also been very relevant, but the conflict has slowly been contained, the Secessionist movement has lost momentum and it now faces substantial internal divisions. The presentation will highlight what have been the main political and security developments that help to understand what has changed between 2017 and today.

Discrimination between Concepts and Realities in Contemporary Societies (12 May 2022)​

Asztalos Csaba-Ferenc (lawyer and member in the Director College of the National Council for Combating Discrimination)

Discrimination is the unequal treatment of persons or groups in society. It ranges from verbal abuse or feeling less valued as a human being to unfair practices, bias and harassment. A discriminatory treatment applied to citizens can lead to dangerous consequences for social interactions or country’s democratic future. This presentation will highlight some of the forms and challenges of discrimination in contemporary Romania.

Rebel governance and security challenges (7 April 2022)

Adrian Florea (Senior Lecturer in International relations, University of Glasgow)

 My research draws inspiration from the literatures on governance and civil warfare/insurgency to examine the conditions under which rebel groups establish complex architectures of governance in the areas that they control. While many civil wars do shatter existing socio-political orders, they often create alternative orders where rebels engaged in contention with sovereign governments perform a wide range of governance activities: they set up parallel executive, legislative, and administrative structures, establish alternative institutions for property rights enforcement and dispute resolution, collect taxes, and provide a range of public goods, such as healthcare, education, or social services, to the local population. During the CGPS seminar, I will discuss the key factors that shape both the supply of and demand for rebel governance.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Angry Youth: Stories from Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 martie 2022)

Maja Savić-Bojanić (Lector univ. dr. în Științe politice, Sarajevo School of Science and Technology)

Political participation during crisis takes a reactive form – it is merely a response to an emergency which is manifested through varying forms of protest. In a global crisis caused by Covid-19 pandemic, massive protests occurred as a response to restrictive measures that governments around the world imposed as means of protecting public health. This lecture will examine why youth engaged in Covid-19 related protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What were the triggers and how did youth opinion changed as policies changed? Is youth on a ‘standby’ or are they easily triggered?