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Torben Lütjen, Visiting Associate Professor of European Studies and Political Science

Torben Lütjen is the DAAD Visiting Associate Professor for European Studies and Political Science, through a joint appointment of the Max Kade Centre for German and European Studies and Vanderbilt’s Department of Political Science. Prior to his arrival at Vanderbilt, he was the acting director of the Institute for Democracy Research at the University of Göttingen in Germany. From 2009-2015 he headed a research group at the University of Düsseldorf that explored the mechanisms behind different levels of ideological polarization in Western democracies, funded by a Schumpeter-Fellowship of the Volkswagen-Foundation. Most of his work is located on the intersection between political science and contemporary history and he is particularly interested in political parties, polarization and democracy.

Recently, he has written a book on the connection between residential segregation and polarization in two “landslide counties” in Wisconsin (Die Politik der Echokammer. Wisconsin und die ideologische Polarisierung der USA, 2016) and another one on the evolution of the Republican Party and American conservatism after 1945 (Partei der Extreme: Die Republikaner. Über die Implosion des amerikanischen Konservativismus, 2016) He also authored a biography of Frank Walter Steinmeier, the former German Foreign Minister and now president of Germany. Additionally, he writes frequently for major German newspapers and weeklies such as Die Zeit, FAZ, taz, or Der Spiegel.

He is currently starting a new research project on the history and sociology of political conversions in the age of ideology: radical ideological transformations (from left to right or vice versa) of intellectuals and political elites, from the early nineteenth century to the renegades of the generation of 1968.

During his time at Vanderbilt, Torben has taught the following courses: “The Rise of Right-Wing Populist Parties in Advanced Democracies”, “West European Politics”, “Social Movements” “Ideological polarization in Historical and Comparative Perspective”, and “The Idea of Europe”