Spring 2012 Event Theme
Democracies (and forces that thwart and pervert them)
In 2012, MCSI’s spring event series explores the difficult work of making democratic politics and social relations happen.
In pursuing this inquiry, we examine forces that thwart and pervert democracy, particularly in our own time. These forces are complex and in some cases elusive. They include, to start, the activities of corporations and militaries. However, they also include the ways political boundaries—between, for example, cities and incorporated suburbs, as well as between independent sovereign states—limit and often pre-empt democratic political organizing. In examining these and other forces that thwart and pervert democracy in our historical moment, we will be particularly concerned with the uneven impact of professional-managerial “experts” on democratic political projects.
The title of the series speaks of “democracies” in the plural, so as to emphasize that our concern is with the realization of democratic ideals in specific and changing social-historical contexts—not in some abstract or hypothetical world. In this regard, our series pays particular attention to the uprisings and movements toward democracies in the Middle East over the last year, as well as to both changes in U.S. electoral politics and the emergence of the “Occupy” movements in the U.S. this fall.
Finally, whereas a prominent strand of anti-democratic, or conservative, thought is always anxious about the possibility of there being “too much democracy,” this MCSI series unabashedly embraces the view that democracies are something to value and enhance, rather than tame and control.
As in past years, MCSI events include presentations by vanguard artists, cutting-edge scholars, and creative policymakers.
Daniel A. Segal
Director, Munroe Center for Social Inquiry
Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Historical Studies