Mabel Berezin is Professor of Sociology at Cornell University. She has held professorial appointments at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and UCLA. Berezin’s expertise lies in the area of extreme and exclusionary forms of nationalism, such as fascism and right wing populist politics. She has spent her academic career studying the threats that these political phenomena pose to democratic political culture and governance. Berezin has written books on Italian fascism; on territorial politics in Europe; and contemporary French and Italian right wing politics. Europe is her principle research area but the United States is increasingly becoming a focus. Berezin identifies professionally as a political, cultural and comparative sociologist. She focuses her research on domains where culture and politics intersect. She explores how meaning systems shape and interact with political practices and institutions. Berezin’s cross cutting and interdisciplinary research areas allow her to cast a wide net over the interpretation of current, as well as past, political events.
Her ongoing work focuses on the “triple crises” confronting Europe—debt, migration and terror–and its effect upon the electoral viability of nationalist right parties. She is currently working on a book project: When Security Ends: the Crisis and Challenges to Democracy in Europe. In this new work, Berezin continues to develop the concept of the “post-security” polity that she first introduced in Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times (Berezin 2009).
Berezin’s research interests are versatile and extend beyond Europe and right wing politics. For example, she has worked on terrorism and popular culture. Berezin also has a secondary interest in health and culture. After receiving a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Chicago, she segued into social science via three years working in health policy research at Boston University Medical School. As part of a recent Robert Wood Johnson foundation initiative, she collaborated with Harvard’s Michele Lamont to produce a special issue of Social, Science and Medicine on the subject of Solidarity and Health Cultures, Berezin’s research contribution to the volume “Risk is for the Rich? Childhood Vaccination Resistance and the Culture of Health” focuses on the culture of risk and privilege that permeates social inequality in the United State. She describes her research process in “Four Questions for Mabel Berezin.” Interview. Culture: Newsletter of the Sociology of Culture Section of the American Sociological Association 28 (1): (Winter): 3-5.
Berezin lectures widely in the United States and Europe. In the past year, she has given public lectures in Madrid, Vienna, Budapest and Barcelona, as well as at Harvard and Yale. In spring 2016, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University’s Minda De Gunzburg Center for European Studies—where she began her academic career as a graduate student affiliate in the 1980s. She has held “invited” positions at European University Institute in Fiesole, Italy; Université Paris 8; Centre de recherches internationales (CERI) Sciences-Po; ,and the Ecole des hautes Etudes Sciences Sociales, Paris, France; the Hoover Institution for War and Peace, Stanford. She is an ongoing Faculty Associate at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. Dutch, Polish and British print media, as well as France 24, NPR, BBC and Australian Broadcasting Company have interviewed her. She regularly writes Op-Ed pieces for CNN, Global Dialogues, Huffington Post and The Conversation.
Berezin is an active member of the American Sociological Association where she was elected to the governing Council in 2016. She was also co-program chair for the Council of European Studies 2016 Annual Conference of Europeanists where she and her co-chair developed the conference theme, “Resilient Europe?” that set the intellectual agenda of the meeting. Over the years she has served in multiple administrative positions within both of these organizations. In 2012, Berezin was elected Chair of the Culture Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA). She has also served on the Executive Committee of the Social Science History Association where she co-chaired the annual meeting program in 2008. She is a frequent reviewer for major academic journals, University Presses and fellowship organizations.
At Cornell, Berezin contributes to the Undergraduate Program where she teaches a signature interdisciplinary course on Politics and Culture. She teaches Graduate level courses on cultural sociology, qualitative research methods and comparative historical sociology. She actively mentors students. Berezin engages undergraduates in her research projects and she co-authors widely with graduate students.
She chaired the Department of Sociology from 2010 to 2014. Berezin’s agenda as Chair focused on faculty recruitment, retention and diversity. Her leadership on recruitments moved the Sociology department towards gender balance and diversity. For example, when she became Chair, Sociology had only two women on the faculty. When her term ended, Sociology had six women on the faculty. In addition to her departmental service, Berezin participates in Cornell’s global initiatives. She is an active member of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Cornell Institute for European Studies where she serves on the Steering Committee.