ONLINE | Democracy in a Time of Plague: Challenges & Opportunities in the Struggles Against Authoritarianism, Covid-19 and Racism


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ONLINE | Democracy in a Time of Plague: Challenges & Opportunities in the Struggles Against Authoritarianism, Covid-19 and Racism

By Jack Wells

July 14, 2020 - 12:00 pm

July 14, 2020


In recent months, democrats have been confronted with multiple crises. In a situation in which democratic “guardrails” have long been eroded, and many countries have been dominated by xenophobic and authoritarian governments, the onset of the coronoavirus presented fundamental challenges to public health, civic commitment, and democratic governance. Citizens in liberal democracies worried about how “social distancing” would limit the ability of citizens to assemble and organize to ensure public accountability. Others were confronted by aggressive authoritarian leaders using the pandemic to extend their rule. And then the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis precipitated a protest movement against racism that has gone viral, and spread like wildfire throughout the U.S. and then throughout the world. How do the coronavirus and the viral protest movement interact? How do the protests face particular challenges given the pandemic, and in what ways do the protests represent unique opportunities to strengthen democracy even in the face of the pandemic?


  • Nazan Bedirhanoglu, Freedom Project Postdoctoral Fellow in Political Science, Wellesley College, Fellow of the New University in Exile Consortium, USA
  • András Bozóki, Professor of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest and Vienna; served as Hungary’s Minister of Culture between 2005 and 2006
  • Maria Bucur, John V. Hill Professor of history and gender studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
  • Jeffrey C. Isaac, James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
  • Shireen Hassim, Professor/ Canada 150 Research Chair, Carleton University, Canada, and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Dagmar Kusá, Assistant professor, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, Slovakia
  • Paweł Marczewski, Head of the research unit Citizens, Batory Foundation, Warsaw, Poland
  • Elzbieta Matynia, Professor, Sociology, New School for Social Research & Director of the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies
  • Daniel Peres, Professor, Federal University of Bahia-Brazil, Brazil

Moderated by

  • Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, Michael E. Gellert Professor of Sociology, New School for Social Research, USA