Democracy Seminar is a forum for scholars, policy makers, journalists and activists who support democracy against the global threat of authoritarianism. It is an outgrowth of the international, initially clandestine, informal and improvised, “Democracy Seminar” of the 1980s and ‘90s, which was formed by New School professors in collaboration with activists and journalists in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere in Eastern and Central Europe. The seminar has been revived in the shadows of the attacks on democracy of recent years. A “worldwide committee of democratic correspondence” was established four years ago. Our first face to face meeting of the seminar was held before the Covid pandemic, in 2019. Since then, we have been conducting our business in Zoom meetings and organizing Webinars on topics ranging from the Trumpist challenges to American democracy, to the political consequences of anti-gender politics in Central Europe and beyond, to the struggle to maintain a democratic alternative to the Taliban in Afghanistan, to, most recently, the war in Ukraine. Our primary activity has been publishing written contributions on our online platform on a broad range of common concerns.
The goal of this conference is to take stock of our work to date and to extend our deliberations. We will focus on two themes: de-democratization and re-democratizations, i.e. exploring the possibilities of democratic innovation in these very hard times. The background of the discussion at the conference will be the series of papers the seminar participants have been publishing on our platform. The discussion will then move from those contributions to an examination of our two themes.