Gendered Autocratization

Ph.D. -course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Gender is a versatile instrument in the playbook of populist politicians and autocratic leaders. In some countries measures enhancing women's representation has served to build democratic credentials with the international community and domestic constituencies despite a hardening of the leaders' grip on power. More widespread, is the use of anti-gender-rhetoric by politicians to mobilize support and for leaders strengthen their hold on power. This commonly takes the form of a crusade against western or liberal gender ideology - which is shorthand for LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer) rights; protection against gender-based violence; rights to abortion and reproductive health services, and comprehensive sex education. Portrayed as defence of tradition, religion, culture, national sovereignty and the natural family, anti-gender mobilization resonates with public opinion in many societies and has become a favoured and very effective means to rally support. This has enabled the passingof restrictive laws, not only against individuals engaging in 'immoral' activities (such as abortion or consensual sex between persons of the same gender), but also against civil society more broadly, restricting criticism and opposition. We see this trend clearly across the African and American continents, in Eastern Europe and the Muslim world, but it is also notable in many Asian and Western European countries. At the same time, `gender politics' and particularly abortion rights, are central in the resistance against democratic backsliding.

This two-day international and interdisciplinary PhD course provides in-depth engagement with the state-of the art research on the role of gender in contemporary politics and in contestations over the nature of liberal democracy.

Participants will hear lectures by leading experts in the field and engage with them in public discussions on what drives and shapes these trends, globally and locally, how they play out in different contexts, and to what effects. Students who research different aspects of gender politics in different country contexts will have the opportunity to present and discuss their work with senor researchers and PhD colleagues.

Format: This is an in-person conference-style PhD course combining lectures, roundtable discussions and presentation of work in progress. The course is interdisciplinary and open to candidates from universities in Norway and abroad. Participants must submit a (draft) paper or thesis outline and give a presentation of their work (10 mins). They will receive comments from other PhD students and experienced researchers. Each participant is expected to prepare comments for a fellow student and take active part in discussions and roundtable sessions. The course literature should be read in advance. 2 ECTS will be awarded for participation in the course with a paper presentation.

The PhD Course is integrated with the Master course GOV360-3 24V / Global: «Gendered Autocratization as a global challenge» (5 ECTS). The MA students have separate lectures in the weeks ahead of the PhD course, but the course readings are the same, and the MA students are required to participate in parts of the PhD course, and will be invited to participate fully in the course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course the participants should be able to:

  • Engage critically with cutting-edge research in the field.
  • Formulate and express the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of their research project.
  • Engage with the ethical challenges of their research.
  • Articulate and explain the significance of their own research.
  • Present and discuss aspects of their research to a variety of audiences in both oral and written forms.
  • Discuss the methodological challenges of multidisciplinary research.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Course dates: Two full days - 21-22 March 2024

The application deadline is 25 February 2024

Please register here

Place of Instruction

Department of Government, University of Bergen
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Research-based master's degree in a relevant discipline.
Access to the Course
PhD candidates with relevant research, UiB and national / international from any discipline.
Teaching and learning methods


Thursday 21 March:

9:00 - 10:15 Keynote: "Gendered Autocratization: Global trends and international actors". Roundtable discussion.

10:30 - 12:30 Paper session - student presentations


13:30 - 14:45 Keynote: "Gendered politics of autocratization in Africa". Roundtable discussion.

15:00 - 17:00 Paper session - student presentations

Communal Dinner

Friday 22 March:

9:00 - 10:15 Keynote: "Gendered politics of autocratization and resistance in the Americas". Roundtable discussion.

10:30 - 12:30 Paper session - student presentations


13:30 - 15:30 Paper session - student presentations

15:30 - 16:00 Closing session

Informal dinner for those staying in Bergen.


Lise Rakner (UiB)

Siri Gloppen (UiB)

Ana Côrtes (UiB)

Lívia Buzolin (University of Sao Paulo)

Satang Nabaneh (University of Pretoria and University of Dayton)

Neil Datta (European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights) (tbc)

Alica Ely Yamin (Harvard University) (tbc)

Bruce Wilson (University of Central Florida) (tbc)

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Each participant must:

  • submit a (draft) paper or thesis outline
  • participate in a public roundtable
  • read the course literature in advance of the course
Forms of Assessment

Assessment is based on:

  • a 10-minute presentation of own work (paper or thesis outline)
  • comments for a fellow student
  • active participation in discussions and roundtable sessions
Grading Scale
Assessment Semester
Reading List

Total 159 pages + web-resources

Bjarnegård, Elin, and Pär Zetterberg. "How autocrats weaponize women's rights." Journal of Democracy 33.2 (2022): 60-75. 15p

Bush, Sarah Sunn, and Pär Zetterberg. "Gender Equality and Authoritarian Regimes: New Directions for Research." Politics & Gender (2023): 1-5. 5p

Corredor, Elizabeth S. "Unpacking "gender ideology" and the global right's antigender countermovement." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44.3 (2019): 613-638. 25p

de Abreu Maia, Lucas, Albert Chiu, and Scott Desposato. "No evidence of backlash: LGBT rights in Latin America." The Journal of Politics 85.1 (2023): 49-63 14p

Kroeger, Alex, and Alice J. Kang. "The Appointment of Women to Authoritarian Cabinets in Africa." Government and Opposition (2022): 1-24. 24p

Paternotte, David, and Roman Kuhar. "`Gender ideology' in movement: Introduction." Kuhar and Paternotte (2017): 1-22. 22p

Tripp, Aili Mari. "How African Autocracies Instrumentalize Women Leaders." Politics & Gender (2023): 1-6. 6p

Yamin, Alicia Ely, and Agustina Ramón Michel. "Using Rights to Deepen Democracy: Making Sense of the Road to Legal Abortion in Argentina." Fordham Int'l LJ 46 (2022): 377. 48p

Websites (development of international gender norms)

Fourth World Conference on Women, 4-15 September 1995, Beijing, China

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

International Human Rights Law and Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Course Coordinator
Professor Lise Rakner