Populism, Democracy and Covid-19

Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 05:00 PM


Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions

Event contact

Alicia Cerreto

0422 519 322

Populism, Democracy and Covid-19

Watch the recording of this event here: https://youtu.be/en40pB-tPlA 


Join us to reflect on the history of populism and democracy, as prompted by the bicentenary of Napoleon Bonaparte's death, explore Australia's populist past and consider the impact of Covid-19 on current day politics and law.

Peter McPhee The bicentenary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte is a fertile moment to reflect on ‘populism’, for here was the archetypal ‘man on horseback’ who inspired astonishing personal devotion, someone who justified his power as the popular will and yet cynically manipulated that will when necessary.

Peter McPhee is Chair of the History Council of Victoria and Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Melbourne. He is an historian of revolutionary France and biographer of Maximilien Robespierre.

Jon Piccini On the mainstream origins of populism: While often seen as a recent phenomenon practiced by political outsiders, my research on human rights in Australia shows that the populist playbook – xenophobia, bordering, and alarm at the encroachment of international institutions – has older roots in mainstream political life.

Jon Piccini is Lecturer in History at Australian Catholic University. He researches Australian history from a global perspective, and his most recent book is Human Rights in Twentieth-Century Australia (Cambridge, 2019).

Imogen Saunders Populism, international law and COVID-19: reflecting on the increased backlash against international law in the face of the pandemic.

Dr Imogen Saunders is an Associate Professor at the ANU College of Law.  She researches in international law, including the history of international law.


Alicia Cerreto, HCV Executive Officer will host the evening, and Monash University's Dr Susie Protschky and Professor Al Thomson of History at Monash University will facilitate the Q&A.


The seminar is part of an ongoing series, Making Public Histories, that is offered jointly by the Monash University History Program, the History Council of Victoria and the Old Treasury Building. Each seminar aims to explore issues and approaches in making public histories. The seminars are open, free of charge, to anyone interested in the creation and impact of history in contemporary society. Click HERE to learn about other events in the series.

We thank the series sponsors, Monash University Publishingthe Monash University History Program and the Old Treasury Building:

Monash University Publishing - some current titles         

Old Treasury Building                                       Monash University History Program

and the organising partners:

Old Treasury Building     Monash University History Program      HCV



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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).





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