S1E2: How Viable is West­ern Lib­er­al Democ­ra­cy when Trans­plant­ed Across the World?

In this episode of Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? Shali­ni Ran­de­ria asks if the ideals of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy – free and fair elec­tions, sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, rule of law and respect for human rights – may be export­ed eas­i­ly from the West to oth­er parts of the world? This is a ques­tion espe­cial­ly salient when some of these very ideals are being under­mined in sev­er­al coun­tries includ­ing the Unit­ed States (more about this ques­tion in the first episode? Fur­ther, Prof. Ran­de­ria asks her guests, Lau­rence White­head and Yan­i­na Welp, if West­ern mod­els of democ­ra­cy ought to be trans­plant­ed to oth­er regions of the world at all?

The con­ver­sa­tion con­sid­ers the fail­ings of mod­ern­iza­tion the­o­ry, and to what extent it was sim­ply mis­tak­en in assum­ing that there can be a uni­lin­ear, uni­di­rec­tion­al path to ever greater free­dom with the suc­cess­ful trans­plan­ta­tion of west­ern style, lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions every­where. This episode fea­tures ques­tions con­cern­ing democracy’s rela­tion­ship with pop­ulism and cap­i­tal­ism, as well as a dis­cus­sion of demo­c­ra­t­ic inno­va­tions from Latin Amer­i­ca that may be of inter­est to the West­ern world.

The pod­cast series Democ­ra­cy in Ques­tion? is host­ed by Shali­ni Ran­de­ria, Direc­tor of the Albert Hirschman Cen­tre on Democ­ra­cy at the Grad­u­ate Insti­tute in Gene­va, and Direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Human Sci­ences in Vien­na. Episode 2 fea­tures Lau­rence White­head, an Offi­cial Fel­low in pol­i­tics at Nuffield Col­lege, Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford, and Yan­i­na Welp, research fel­low at the Albert Hirschman Cen­tre on Democ­ra­cy. Yan­i­na and Lau­rence recent­ly edit­ed a book togeth­er titled, The Pol­i­tics of Recall Elec­tions, that analy­ses the vari­ety of process­es and pur­pos­es of recall, by com­par­ing the prac­tices and out­comes of remov­ing elect­ed offi­cials before the end of their term.

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


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.