“The majority of the world lives in a formal democracy today. But trust in parliaments and political parties is decreasing in both established and new democracies. Social inequality, political polarization, and politics of hate are fueling the situation further,” emphasizes Professor Shalini Randeria, the rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna and professor of social anthropology and sociology at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, where she also heads the Albert Hirschman Centre of Democracy.
As a researcher, she has spent many years working on the question of how the functioning of law influences our daily life in a globalized world. “I am interested in how citizens use both the street and the courts to protest and make people aware of misuse of power, but also in order to protect and stand up for democracy beyond the constraints of election processes.”
Research on “Soft Authoritarianisms”
As an Excellence Chair holder at the university of Bremen, Shalini Randeria is working on these issues. Within the collaborative research platform Worlds of Contradiction, she established the Soft Authoritarianisms research group, in which an interdisciplinary team is researching the new links between democratic and authoritarian governmental forms. By using case studies on France, Turkey, and Poland, normalization processes for authoritarian rhetoric and practices, the successive undermining of democratic institutions using parliamentary majorities, and the growing questioning of the rule of law are being analyzed comparatively.
In the ten English-language podcast episodes, Shalini Randeria and her guests reflect on democratic experiences and experiments across the world and investigate whether the democratic crisis poses a unique challenge in history or if parallels can be found to past political crises. The podcast will also address whether tendencies that point to a renewal and reform of democracy can be recognized.
First Guest: Historian Timothy Snyder
In the first episode, Randeria is joined by the historian Timothy Snyder (Yale University). He is known across the world for his research on totalitarianism and has comparatively analyzed the US American present in his last books. Shalini Randeria talks to him about the upcoming US elections, the republican party’s strategies, and the term “sadopopulism.” Snyder believes that Trump does not offer the people opportunities to find happiness, but rather does the exact opposite: “He causes more pain in the system and leads people to believe that it is good to suffer, as long as others are suffering more.”
The podcast series is a cooperative project between the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), the Albert Hirschman Centre of Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and the University of Bremen. The podcast can be found on the usual podcast apps or on the IWM website.
Dr. Jens Adam
U Bremen Excellence Chair - Soft Authoritarianisms Research Group
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 (0)171 62 77 645
Email: adamprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de