U Bremen Excellence Chair  & Research Group


ExChairs_1_Foto Kai Uwe Bohn Universität Bremen

The research group „Soft Authoritarianisms: Comparative Interdisciplinary Perspectives“ examines what „soft authority“ is, how it governs, how it is implemented institutionally and rhetorically, how the rule of law is dismantled in everyday life, and how democratic institutions are slowly and systematically undermined. The research group focusses on contradictions which, in rhetorical terms, appear as contradictio in adiecto, but in fact function as effective power options, as a used fusion of softness and authority. The team investigates how “soft authoritarianisms” unfold, how elections bolster the power of strongmen and how the rule of law is dismantled by using the law to sabotage accountability. Three contrastive case studies linking ethnography with discourse analysis and documentary research will focus on India, Poland and Turkey resp. the Turkish-European diaspora. These case studies will trace processes within democracies as well as in transnational settings in order to analyse authoritarian practices of state transformation, to develop an empirically based typology and to build process-sensitive theory that overcomes the West-non-West divide characteristic of the social sciences.

For further information please visit the Project-Website

About the Excellence Chair Programme

In January 2019, the University of Bremen introduced a new initiative: the U Bremen Excellence Chairs. This program serves in particular to heighten the internationalization of our research activities and their visibility. The appointed Chairs are considered outstanding in their respective disciplines and pave the way to leading institutions worldwide. As visiting chairs, they will attend the University of Bremen over the next several years and set up their own research group here. We are delighted to have been awarded our own Excellence Chair within WoC, which is held by Prof. Shalini Randeria.


Shalini Randeria is Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva , and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.

Dr. Jens Adam, Post-Doc Researcher
Dr. Ulrike Flader, Post-Doc Researcher
Hagen Steinhauer, Doctoral Researcher
Natasha Deasy, Student Assistant

Prof. Dr. Ranabir Samadar, Permanent Fellow
Prof. em. Dr. Ruth Wodak, Permanent Fellow

Interdisciplinary Autumn Research School 2021

Interdisciplinary Autumn Research School

October 2021,
University of Bremen | Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s YISARES Autumn Research School had to be postponed to October 2021. The exact dates will be announced shortly.

For further details, please visit our corresponding event page.

Podcast: Democracy in Question

Podcast: Democracy in Question


Ungarn, Brasilien, Türkei und die USA: Die Prinzipien der liberalen Demokratie werden vielerorts in Frage gestellt. Gemeinsam mit einigen der wichtigsten intellektuellen Stimmen der Gegenwart geht die U Bremen Excellence Chair-Gastprofessorin Shalini Randeria diesem Phänomen in einem neuen Podcast nach.

Die Podcast-Reihe ist eine Kooperation vom Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM), dem Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy am Graduate Institute in Genf sowie der Universität Bremen. Sie kann über alle üblichen Podcast-Apps oder die Webseite des IWM gehört werden.




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Fragen beantwortet: 

Dr. Jens Adam
U Bremen Excellence Chair Research Group „Soft Authoritarianisms“
Universität Bremen
+ 49 (0)171 62 77 645

Media Coverage

03/07/2020, Podcast with Prof. Shalini Randeria. Graduate Institute What Matters Today. Online

The impact of the US elections on democracy (podcast)


03/07/2020, a terra é redonda. Online

Índia: sociedade, política e pandemia (article)


06/2020, The Graduate Institute Geneva: Global Challenges, Special Issue No.1

Democracy in coronavirus times | VIDEO with Shalini Randeria and Ivan Krastev (podcast/video)


06/2020, COVID-19: The Policy Response, public event series, London School of Economics

The New Authoritarianism: COVID-19 and the challenges facing democracy (incl. podcast/ video)


05/2020, Das Magazin, No 19/2020

Armes Reiches Indien (pdf)


25/04/2020, ZEIT Online

Darf der Corona-Impfstoff patentiert werden? aus der Serie „Worüber denken Sie gerade nach?“


26/03/2020, ZEIT Österreich Nr. 14/2020

Die Heimatlose (pdf)


01/2019,  update. Das Magazin der Universität Bremen U Bremen | University of Bremen Magazine.

Guest Professorships for Top Researchers (pdf)

Gastprofessuren für Spitzenkräfte (pdf)