GAAS-Conference 2018: Transformation of Democracy – Mobilisation, Representation and Responsiveness

Project no.:



Thursday, 15th - Saturday, 17th, November 2018


University of Passau, Innstraße 40, 94032 Passau


Politikwissenschaft der Universität Passau
German Association for American Studies

Target group:

Political scientists, historians, sociologists as well as a larger interested audience

Participation fee:

10,00 euro (w/o accomodation or food) 


You can register for this conference online until November 9, 2018 here.

Recommended accomodation:

IBB Hotel Passau City Center, Bahnhofstr. 24, Passau (68 euro per night)


The USA is the world's oldest working democracy. But two and a half centuries in, it is not the same democracy envisioned by its founding fathers. The challenges and developments of the 21st century, especially, have wrought wrenching changes. Political power remains in the hands of the people, but there is a camp that feels a deep dissatisfaction, a cultural decline and an economic indignation. It has set out on an anti-liberal, anti-intellectual path - conspiracy theories abound. A part of the electorate is in denial about climate change. Many would seem to condone willful authoritarianism. The ideological divide is vast. The uncompromising stances of polar opposites have locked policymakers in a permanent stalemate. At this point grass-roots movements appear to build more and more momentum. Protests and civil disobedience are on the rise. There is a new political vigor and dynamism in the air and maybe a more democratic and empowering form of democracy in the offing.

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the Political Science Section of the German Association for American Studies will deal with questions of a transforming democracy.

Program (pdf-file)

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Opening Keynote Address – The 2018 Election: The People Have Spoken. What Did They Say?
Kerry L Haynie (Duke University)

Keynote Address II - Rethinking Presidential Greatness in the Age of Trump
Justin Vaughn (Boise State University)


Friday, November 16, 2018

Panel 1 - A Crisis of Democracy, a constitutional crisis or business as usual?
Chair: Winand Gellner

Inequality, Responsiveness, and the Viability of Democratic Rule
Christian Lammert / Boris Vormann

Transforming democracy and partisanship: globalization and its counter-movements in the U.S.
Betsy Leimbigler

Transformation of Democracy Oligarchizing Tendencies, Responsiveness, Inequality and Elitist Tendencies
Jörg Hebenstreit

Why U.S. Support for the Liberal World Order is Under Threat
Jack Thompson

Lunch Break

Panel 2 - Threats to Democracy
Chair: Michael Dreyer

The other Breitbarts: Exploring the Populist Right Wing’s Digital News Environment in the US
Curd Knüpfer

Future unknown: How Digital Technologies and the ‘Future of Work’ are Unsettling America
Natalie Rauscher

America’s Four-Party System: Party Fragmentation & The Transformation of the Primary
Mike Cowburn

From Red vs. Blue to Black vs. White: How the Demographic Transformation of the United States has Shaped Partisan Majorities and will Transform its Democracy
Philipp Adorf


Guided City Tour

Keynote Address III - Trump or Trumpism? American Political Thought and the Aesthetics of Trumpian Politics
Alisa Kessel (Puget Sound University)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Panel 3 - Changes in Institutions and Policy
Chair: Christian Lammert

The Supreme Court: Shifting Majorities
Michael Dreyer

The Politics of Removal: When a President Will Be Impeached – and When Not
Patrick Horst 

Central American Advocacy in Response to the Revocation of TPS
Ana-Constantina Frost 

Coffee Break

Panel 4 - Implications of the Ongoing Elite and Mass Polarization
Chair: Patrick Horst

Framing “Them” – The Influence of Contemporary Populist Framing on the Anti-Authority Attitude in the United States
Maren Anne Schäfer

Geographies of Discontent
Guido Rohmann 

The US Supreme Court: Source of or Barrier to Polarization?
Sebastian Dregger 

Farewell & Business Meeting