Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Democracy: Spring 2020 Events

"Democracy: A Humanities Perspective" showcases the layered understanding and analysis that humanities scholars bring to the study of democracy, with special emphasis on current challenges in the U.S. and abroad.

Democracy and the Dignity of Work

Webinar screenshot, courtesy of Bonnie Honig
The webinar, moderated by Amanda Anderson, took place on March 26, 2021. Doctoral student Alberto Alcaraz Escarcega (Brown University) and Assistant Professor Noga Rotem (University of Washington) responded to Bonnie Honig's talk.

"Those who refused the last President’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election were often those most closely involved in supervising or working on their states’ election process and count," Bonnie Honig writes. "While their refusals to be enlisted in an undemocratic scheme may be related to character, or decency, or even fear of being caught, another possibility is suggestive: Might it be that the experience of working on the election, as on other things, might create an attachment to the product of work that is not easy to undo? As we appreciate essential workers in the time of COVID, might we also come to appreciate this important detail about electoral work in this same context?"

Habit, Religion, and the Bulwarks of Democracy

"Recent events have highlighted the vital role of social norms in sustaining democratic life," Thomas Lewis noted. "G. W. F. Hegel develops such a view through an account of the role of habits in supporting or undermining legal and political institutions, as well as a subtle, easily misunderstood account of the role of religion in forming these habits. If we attend closely to Hegel’s expansive conceptualization of religion, we can connect these claims with the roles of a wide range of groups and institutions in shaping habits and identities—while also appreciating the resources he offers for comprehending why religious groups have been so prominent in recent anti-democratic movements."

The webinar was recorded live on May 13, 2021, with a talk by Thomas A. Lewis, Professor of Religious Studies, and responses by Irina Kalinka, doctoral student in Modern Culture and Media, and Melvin L. Rogers, Associate Professor of Political Science.