Abstract: It is a commonplace that nation-state democracy is in crisis today, suffering multiple forces of erosion as well as direct assaults.  Most who diagnose and lament the crisis presume an imperiled good that must be restored and resurrected. Or they presume that democracy has always been compromised by being paired with undemocratic forces (capital, racism, etc.) and thus has yet to be realized.  These presumptions refuse the tacit call for critique in crisis, and the rethinking and reorienting that crisis invites.  In this lecture, Professor Wendy Brown tries to look unflinchingly at the impossibility of democratic states in the twenty-first century, and explores where democratic remains might belong.

About:  Wendy Brown is UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and professor emerita of Political Science and Critical Theory at UC Berkeley. The author and editor of more than a dozen books, she is best known for her interrogation of identity politics and state power in States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity; her critical analysis of tolerance in Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire; her account of the global political inter-regnum in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty; and her study of neoliberalism’s multi-pronged assault on democratic principles, institutions and citizenship in Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution and In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West. Her newest work, Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber, reflects on the forces of nihilism corroding contemporary political and intellectual life. A member of the American Academy and a Guggenheim Fellow, Brown has also held a variety of visiting professorships and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She credits her thinking life to the excellent and accessible public universities of her youth and has worked in recent years to prevent their extinction.

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  • Haley Gill

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