13 November 2010

Report on the Anti-Democracy Agenda Symposium 2010: Setting the example for the debate of the future

The first event held by the Geneva-based Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society (SCIS) in conjunction with its "Anti-Democracy Agenda" blog, the Anti-Democracy Agenda Symposium 2010, took place to great acclaim on 8 and 9 November 2010 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich.

Keynotes to the symposium were contributed by Professor Doh Chull Shin, a native of Korea, director of the Korea Democracy Barometer, and core partner in the Asian Barometer Survey (an ongoing research project monitoring democratization in Asian countries), who is based in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri, a leading public research university in the United States, and Professor Kuldip Singh, Head of the Department of Political Science at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, India.

The Anti-Democracy Agenda Symposium 2010 attracted twelve papers submitted by participants from institutions such as the National University of Singapore, the University of the Philippines, the Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal), Ankara University (Turkey), the University of the Punjab, Quaid-i-Azam University (both Pakistan), the University of Central Oklahoma (USA), and the Islamic Azad University (Iran). Other countries and territories of origin or residence represented include Palestine, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland, Nigeria, Korea, and India.

Participants – from doctoral candidates to full professors – came from the disciplines of Political Science, Philosophy, Political Theory, Islamic Studies, Defence and Strategic Studies, Law, and Media Studies, giving theoretical as well as empirical presentations under the titles "Is Confucianism Anti-democratic?", "Islamic Philosophy and Criticizing Democracy", "Against Liberal Democracy", "Anti-Democracy Is Created By Means of Media", "Twenty-First Century Anti-Democracy: Theory and Practice in the World", "A Critique of Western Discourses of Sovereignty and Democracy from Chinese Lenses", "Reflecting on Anti-Democracy Forces in Arab Politics", "'Democracy' in Kazakhstan: Political System Managed from Above", "Pakistan’s Road to Democracy: Islam, Military and Silent Majority", "Democracy: A Form of Government or an Instinct?", "The Role of Ethics in Shaping Democracy: An Examination of Unethical Actions among House of Assembly Members in Nigeria", and "Pekan Anti Otoritarian: Some Observations on Anarchist Gathering at Indonesia".

After a workshop on "Anti-Democratic Thought" in Manchester in 2007, this was the second symposium on anti-democracy organized by the Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society and, once more, it opened up new frontiers for the study of anti-democratic thought and practice. Bringing together scholars from both sides of the debate, advocates of democracy as well as critics and opponents, it set the example for the proper academic conduct of a discussion that does not take place anywhere else, yet. Focusing on twenty-first century anti-democracy, rather than historical expressions and criticisms, it shone the way toward the most important debate of the near future. Asia will play as central a role in that debate as participants from Asia did in our symposium.

The Anti-Democracy Agenda blog and the Sussex Centre for the Individual and Society will continue to be at the forefront of these developments.

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