Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
22 April 2021

Democracy in Question

The Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy launches the second season of its flagship podcast, hosted by Shalini Randeria.

After a successful first season that featured distinguished guests such as Timothy Snyder, Nancy Fraser, and Michael Ignatieff, the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy’s podcast series Democracy in Question? returns with a second season, starting 22 April.

Episodes from the first season reflected on urgent questions such as: Can liberal democracy right the wrongs of racial and gender injustices? How viable is Western liberal democracy when transplanted across the world? And, what will remain of Trumpism going forward? In turn, the second season will ask questions such as: How can we democratize access to the COVID-19 vaccine? Do we need to reinvent liberalism for the 21st century? And, how do we learn to be democratic citizens? It will feature, among others, Suerie Moon from the Global Health Centre, Timothy Garton Ash, and Arjun Appadurai.

The podcast series was conceived in response to the ongoing puzzle that democracy represents today. Most of the world’s population lives in a formal democracy today. But, in both established and new democracies trust in parliaments and political parties is plummeting. Democracies are being torn apart by inequalities, political polarization and a politics of hate. Worldwide, they are burdened with public debt and facing popular discontent. Citizens are using the streets and the courts to challenge authority. They are seeking accountability that is often missing at the ballot boxes. The form, content, institutions, practices and, ultimately, the very survival of liberal democracy is being called into question from India to Hungary and from Brazil to the US.

Is this just a moment of disenchantment? Is it a sign of a deeper malaise of democracy itself? Or is it the result of untamed capitalism destroying democracy? Can democracy right the wrongs of economic, racial and gender injustice? When do we know that the red lines of democracy’s degeneration into soft authoritarian rule have been crossed? And despite all this can we hope to see a renewal and reform of democracy?

The podcast explores these questions with experts from various disciplines, who reflect on the variety of democratic experiences and experiments the world over. Hosted by Shalini Randeria, Director of the Centre and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, the podcast series is presenting some of the most important voices on these themes in contemporary academia.

The second season of Democracy in Question? will feature 15 episodes, one every two weeks, starting from 22 April. As in its first season, each episode seeks answers to specific questions concerning the contemporary challenges to democracy in different contexts.

Join Shalini Randeria and leading scholars for an exploration of the dilemmas facing democracies worldwide. Subscribe now!

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Apple Podcasts:




Released episodes:

Episode 1: Suerie Moon (22 April 2021) 
Theme: Covid 19: How can we democratize access to vaccine?

Episode 2: Timothy Garton Ash (6 May 2021)
Theme: Do we need to reinvent liberalism for the 21st century?

Episode 3: Yogenda Yadav (20 May 2021)
Theme: What ails Indian democracy today?

Episode 4: Michael Wahid Hanna (3 June 2021)
Theme: What is the legacy of egypt’s arab spring, 10 years on?

Episode 5: Till van Rahden (17 June 2021)
Theme: What keeps democracies alive?

Episode 6: Jean Pierre Cabestan (1 July 2021)
Theme: What is the state of democracy in Hong Kong?

Episode 7: Evgeny Morozov (15 July 2021)
Theme: How can we structure digital spaces more democratically?

Episode 8: Steven Lukes (29 July 2021)
Theme: When and how is power visible in politics?

Episode 9: Katha Pollitt and Tamara Tenenbaum (12 August 2021)
Theme: Why are reproductive rights contentious issues in the US and Argentina? 

Episode 10: Jason Stanley (26 August 2021)
Theme: Can the concept of “fascism” be used to understand the pathologies of US politics, past and present?



This podcast series is co-produced by the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna, in cooperation with the Excellence Chair, University of Bremen (Research Group: Soft Authoritarianism).