Fea­tur­ing some of the most impor­tant voic­es from con­tem­po­rary acad­e­mia, the pod­cast series “Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” dis­cuss­es var­i­ous demo­c­ra­t­ic expe­ri­ences and exper­i­ments, cur­rent crises as well as long-term chal­lenges to democ­ra­cy such as issues of legit­i­ma­cy, dis­en­fran­chise­ment, or inequality.

“Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion?” host­ed by Shali­ni Ran­de­ria is a joint pro­duc­tion of the Grad­u­ate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Cen­tre on Democ­ra­cy, the Insti­tute for Human Sci­ences (IWM) Vien­na, and the Research Group Soft Author­i­tar­i­anisms, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men. It is pro­duced in coop­er­a­tion with Richard Miron and Anouk Milet (Earshot strategies).

Sound of Democ­ra­cy” is our new pod­cast project, planned for 2021. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Insti­tute for Human Sci­ences (IWM) Vien­na and artist Mukul Patel , we’re ask­ing how democ­ra­cy sounds today in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, how we talk about democ­ra­cy and which metaphors we use doing so. Sound of Democ­ra­cy is part research project part fusion of artis­tic sound­scapes and schol­ar­ly reflection.

Democ­ra­cy in Question?

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. World­wide, they are being torn apart by inequal­i­ties, polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion and a pol­i­tics of hate. Cit­i­zens are using the streets and the courts to chal­lenge author­i­ty and to seek the account­abil­i­ty that is often miss­ing at the bal­lot box­es. The form, con­tent, insti­tu­tions, prac­tices and, ulti­mate­ly, the very prin­ci­ples of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy are being called into ques­tion from India to Hun­gary and from Brazil to the US.

Host­ed by Shali­ni Ran­de­ria, Rec­tor of the IWM, Direc­tor of the Cen­tre at the Grad­u­ate Insti­tute, and Excel­lence Chair, Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men (Research Group: Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism). It fea­tures some of the most impor­tant voic­es in con­tem­po­rary acad­e­mia. Togeth­er they reflect on demo­c­ra­t­ic expe­ri­ences and exper­i­ments the world over and explore whether this cri­sis of democ­ra­cy rep­re­sents a his­tor­i­cal­ly unique chal­lenge or whether par­al­lels to polit­i­cal crises in the past can be discerned.

While each episode address­es issues con­cern­ing the con­tem­po­rary chal­lenges to democ­ra­cy in dif­fer­ent con­texts, the series is also com­mit­ted to explor­ing themes in the longue durée of democ­ra­cy that have occu­pied social sci­en­tists for decades.

Join Shali­ni Ran­de­ria and lead­ing schol­ars for an explo­ration of the dilem­mas fac­ing democ­ra­cies world­wide. Sub­scribe now, wher­ev­er you get your podcasts!

All Episodes: Democ­ra­cy in Question

S06E05: Muku­li­ka Baner­jee on the Cul­ti­va­tion of Democ­ra­cy in India 

15. March 202342:40

This episode explores what makes repub­li­can val­ues and prac­tices impor­tant to the sur­vival of any democ­ra­cy, as well as the role of social­i­ty in cul­ti­vat­ing of a com­mon sense of pur­pose, mutu­al inter­de­pen­dence, and col­lec­tive engage­ment. What makes the agrar­i­an ethos of Indi­an vil­lage com­mu­ni­ties res­onate with the spir­it of…

S06E04: Ken Opa­lo on the Prospects of Democ­ra­cy Across Africa 

1. March 202339:39

This episode explores the cur­rent state of democ­ra­cy across Africa. What are the main achieve­ments since the 1990s and what are the biggest inter­nal threats to con­sol­i­da­tion of democ­ra­cy? Why have demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments failed to deliv­er? Lis­ten to how unful­filled promis­es and aspi­ra­tions for a bet­ter life have shaped the…

S06E03: Ron Daniels on the Role of Uni­ver­si­ties in Strength­en­ing Democracy 

15. Feb­ru­ary 202338:08

This episode explores the role uni­ver­si­ties play in uphold­ing and deep­en­ing democ­ra­cy. How does uni­ver­si­ty edu­ca­tion fos­ter civic engage­ment and a demo­c­ra­t­ic spir­it? How do uni­ver­si­ties cul­ti­vate inter­ac­tive diver­si­ty? And what pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions can insti­tu­tions of high­er edu­ca­tion make in order to strength­en democ­ra­cy today? Lis­ten to the illu­mi­nat­ing discussion…

S06E02: Sha­harzad Akbar on Afghanistan after Democracy 

1. Feb­ru­ary 202342:54 min listen

This episode explores the polit­i­cal mis­takes which pre­vent­ed human rights and the rule of law from tak­ing root in Afghan soci­ety. What under­stand­ings of democ­ra­cy pre­vailed fol­low­ing the U.S. inva­sion and what were the foun­da­tions on which the lead­ers of Afghanistan tried to build a mod­ern repub­lic? Lis­ten to what made…

S06E01:Thomas Carothers on Demo­c­ra­t­ic Back­slid­ing in a Com­par­a­tive Perspective

23. Jan­u­ary 202338:11 min listen

What are the caus­es and con­se­quences of demo­c­ra­t­ic decline world­wide over the course of the last two decades? Has democ­ra­cy in the Unit­ed States recent­ly drift­ed more towards demo­c­ra­t­ic back­slid­ing or did the results of the 2022 midterm elec­tions inspire hope in the reversibil­i­ty of demo­c­ra­t­ic degen­er­a­tion in the US?…

S05E10: Azadeh Moaveni on the Ongo­ing Iran­ian Demon­stra­tions Fueled and Led by Women

9. Jan­u­ary 202344.25 min listen

The ongo­ing protests in the past months have rocked Iran to its core. What began as a wave of street demon­stra­tions and protests has by now turned into a ver­i­ta­ble rev­o­lu­tion led by coura­geous and defi­ant women. What is the broad­er his­tor­i­cal con­text regard­ing these cur­rent events? How has the…

S05E09: Ricar­do Regatieri on Brazil­ian Elec­tions: Bol­sonar­ism and Its Aftermath 

8. Decem­ber 202232:45 min listen

How has the suc­cess of an extreme author­i­tar­i­an fig­ure like Bol­sonaro been enabled by the polit­i­cal field in Brazil? What is the tra­jec­to­ry of the Brazil­ian left, rep­re­sent­ed by PT, ‘The Work­ers’ Par­ty’, led now to vic­to­ry by Pres­i­­dent-elect Lula? Lula’s return to pow­er marks a fresh start for democracy…

S05E08: Charles Tay­lor on Degen­er­a­tions and Regen­er­a­tions of Democracy

24. Novem­ber 202230:15 min listen

Why is democ­ra­cy prone to degen­er­a­tion, and how does this affect our con­ven­tion­al notions of democ­ra­cy itself? Do we usu­al­ly depend too much on a thin for­mal insti­tu­tion­al con­cep­tion of democ­ra­cy focused on elec­toral rou­tines, and thus, neglect broad­er ques­tions of class, cul­ture, equal­i­ty, and sol­i­dar­i­ty? How can we reimagine…

S05E07: Craig Cal­houn on the Cur­rent Cri­sis of Amer­i­can and Glob­al Democ­ra­cy and Poten­tial Remedies

10. Novem­ber 202236:56 min listen

U.S. Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy is exhibit­ing symp­toms of decline or even of degen­er­a­tion giv­en the con­tin­u­ing denial of the results of the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion by many in the Repub­li­can Par­ty and par­ti­san efforts to cur­tail vot­ing rights in the Unit­ed States. How alarmed should one be about leg­isla­tive cap­ture and…

S05E06: Leonard Berna­do on Civ­il Soci­ety and the Pol­i­tics and Prac­tices of Civ­il Soci­ety Organizations

2. Novem­ber 202236:11 min listen

In this episode Shali­ni and her guest dis­cuss the chang­ing valances of civ­il soci­ety over the last few decades. How can we assess today the geo­graph­i­cal­ly and his­tor­i­cal­ly spe­cif­ic under­stand­ing of civ­il soci­ety as a sphere out­side of, and opposed to the realm of pol­i­tics and state insti­tu­tions and the…

S05E05: Nadia Urbinati on the Resur­gence of Pop­ulism, its His­to­ry, and its Var­i­ous Forms

12. Octo­ber 202239:04 min listen

Since pop­ulism became wide­spread in parts of Latin Amer­i­ca, was it mis­tak­en­ly seen as for­eign to Euro-Amer­i­­can lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, and has it in recent decades become more wide­spread than par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy or lib­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism? Is the poten­tial for pop­ulism inher­ent in democ­ra­cy itself, espe­cial­ly when con­ceived in terms of a…

S05E04: Myko­la Gna­tovskyy on the estab­lish­ment of a Spe­cial Tri­bunal to Inves­ti­gate the Crimes of Aggres­sion against Ukraine

30. Sep­tem­ber 202237:57 min listen

How and why did the idea of call­ing for the estab­lish­ment of a spe­cial tri­bunal to inves­ti­gate the crimes of aggres­sion against Ukraine come up in the first place? Why was it nec­es­sary to call for the estab­lish­ment of a new Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court when there is one already in…

S05E03: Neloufer de Mel on the Cur­rent Eco­nom­ic, Social and Polit­i­cal Sit­u­a­tion in Sri Lanka

15. Sep­tem­ber 202234:57 min listen

The caus­es of the cur­rent soci­etal, eco­nom­ic, and polit­i­cal cri­sis in Sri Lan­ka are com­plex. The imme­di­ate roots of the cri­sis are the local and glob­al eco­nom­ic fac­tors, fuelled by the pop­u­lar protests against the cor­rup­tion of the gov­ern­ing polit­i­cal elites. What does the ongo­ing cri­sis have to do with…

S05E02: The Fragili­ty of US Democ­ra­cy and the Gen­uine Threat of Fas­cism it Faces

1. Sep­tem­ber 202233:39 min listen

The U.S. is in the midst of an ongo­ing coup, there is a real threat of fas­cist ten­den­cies in the U.S. and else­where; these influ­ence the pos­si­ble out­comes of the upcom­ing 2022 mid-term elec­tions as well as the 2024 U.S pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. What are the poten­tial­ly dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of legal…

S5E01: Mary Kaldor on NATO, Human Secu­ri­ty, the Chang­ing Face of Glob­al War and the Effec­tive­ness of Sanc­tions and Debt Cancellation

24. August 202239:54 min listen

A new world order is in place where accord­ing to Kaldor, per­pet­u­al vio­lence has become the norm. How come these so-called new wars, or “for­ev­er wars” as Kaldor refers to them, are not tied to con­test over nation­al ter­ri­to­ry? Fur­ther­more, does NATO still adhere to Cold War pat­terns of thinking…

Sound of Democracy

Pro­gramme: Sound of democracy

Enter­ing into Con­ver­sa­tion about the Sound of Democracy

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

The fol­low­ing text describes a project com­ple­ment­ing the Sound of Democ­ra­cy pod­cast, that will be car­ried out by Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke and two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, name­ly Chris­t­ian Bär and Hagen Stein­hauer. Inter­views on How Democ­ra­cy Sounds What does democ­ra­cy sound like today? How is its sound…

Sound of Democ­ra­cy. Blog, Pod­cast and Inter­view Project

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

This blog post is a con­tri­bu­tion by a team of lin­guists at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bre­men, name­ly Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke and two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, Chris­t­ian Bär as well as Hagen Stein­hauer, who is also a mem­ber of the Research Group on Soft Author­i­tar­i­an­ism, which is directed…

Sound of Democ­ra­cy. Sound as a Metaphor

1. Feb­ru­ary 2021

The fol­low­ing text dia­logues with the pod­cast from the per­spec­tive of lin­guis­tics as a dis­ci­pline and was writ­ten by Prof. Dr. Ingo H. Warnke togeth­er with two of his doc­tor­al stu­dents, name­ly Chris­t­ian Bär and Hagen Stein­hauer. The word sound can refer to a wide range of phe­nom­e­na. With­in the…