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*UpdateAlthough Professor Taylor was unable to join us for this event due to illness, our explorations were carried out, with his blessing. Please enjoy the livestream below.

The Anxieties of Democracy program is delighted to invite you to its second public 2016  “Democracy in the City” event, at Civic Hall: on Friday, October 21, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

Please join us for “Democratic Exclusion: A Think-In in Three Acts,” featuring world-renowned political philosopher Charles Taylor in conversation with civic leaders Keesha Gaskins-NathanSarah Leonard, and Tova Wang. Orchestral music conducted by Benjamin Hochman invites further reflection on the theme.

Event Live Stream

The program: 

Democracy, at its roots, means “the power of the people.” Yet around the world, people living in self-styled democracies are excluded from power. How do we understand exclusion in a democratic context, and can we do anything about it?

Act 1: Our event opens with the Finale of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45, “Farewell.” In 1772, the piece demonstrated to Haydn’s patron what a world without musicians would look like. Here, the “Farewell” hints at what the democratic space resembles when it has been emptied due to exclusion.

Act 2Keesha Gaskins-Nathan will then launch an exploration of the meanings and boundaries of democratic exclusion, initiated by Charles Taylor, in conversation with Sarah Leonard and Tova Wang, and continued with members of the audience.

Act 3: The Think-In concludes with a second moment of reflection provided by a performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst.

reception follows, offering a space for audience members to continue discussion and connect with the speakers.

Civic Hall is the ideal locus for this exploration as a “one-of-a-kind community center for the world’s civic innovators.” In a space that defines “civic tech” as the “use of technology for public good,” our program introduces earlier forms of “civic tech,” eighteenth-century musical instruments, to inspire reflection about the repercussions of exclusion in democracies, and the avenues for inclusion.

About the speakers: 

Charles Taylor, Emeritus Professor of philosophy at McGill University, is the recipient of the prestigious Berggruen, John W. Kluge, Templeton, and Kyoto prizes, among other honors. Taylor’s philosophical approaches to the issues of modernity, democracy, equality, and inclusion in key texts such as A Secular Age (2007), Sources of the Self (1989), and Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (1994) have transformed conceptual categories in the humanities and social sciences. Throughout his career, Taylor has exemplified the crucial civic role played by university research, entwining his theoretical approaches with political participation in several domains: from the 1960s when Taylor ran in federal elections, to his key counsel for constitutional negotiations in Canada and around the world.

Keesha Gaskins-Nathan’s civic leadership is long-standing. Currently serving as Director of Democratic Practice at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, she previously directed the Redistricting and Representation program at Brennan Center for Justice. Gaskins-Nathan served as executive director for the League of Women Voters Minnesota and worked for a number of years as a trial attorney. Gaskins-Nathan is a frequent lecturer and writer on issues related to women and politics, movement building, and democratic reform.

Of pianist and conductor Benjamin Hochman’s performances, The New York Times wrote, “Classical music doesn’t get better than this.” Praised by the New Yorker for the “unabashed emphasis he has given to modern repertory, which he balances effortlessly with the classics in his recitals and recordings,” Hochman is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2011. Most recently, Hochman was appointed as the musical assistant to Louis Langrée at the 2016 Mostly Mozart Festival, also working with Thierry Fischer, Jeffrey Kahane, Matthew Halls, and Paavo Järvi. Hochman is a Steinway Artist.

Sarah Leonard is senior editor at The Nation and editor-at-large at the political quarterly Dissent. She has co-edited two books: Occupy!: An OWS-Inspired Gazette (Verso, 2011) with literary magazine n+1, and The Future We Want: Radical Solutions for the 21st Century (Metropolitan, 2016). Her writing focuses on feminism, work, technology, and the exclusion that comes from economic inequality.

Violinist, composer, and music educator Jessie Montgomery’s compositions have been recognized by the American Composers Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization. Active with the Sphinx Organization, which supports the accomplishments of young African-American and Latino string players, Montgomery has also performed with the Catalyst Quartet, acclaimed by The New York Times as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…performing with earthly vigor.” Praised for its inventiveness, her work has received commissions from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Young People’s Chorus of New York, and Cygnus Ensemble.

Tova Wang is Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos and formerly Director of Democracy Programs for the Communications Workers of America. Wang’s critically acclaimed book, The Politics of Voter Suppression: Defending and Expanding Americans’ Right to Vote (2012), and her commentary in The New York Times and The Washington Post, has focused on political inclusion in the United States, particularly, increasing voter participation rates among low income people, communities of color, naturalized immigrants, women, and indigenous peoples. Wang has also conducted global analysis of election procedures and laws for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Democracy Reporting International (DRI), The Carter Center, and The ACE Project.

This event is cosponsored by Civic Hall and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.