EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/PublicsRace

The (de)Construction of the “Illegal” Immigrant

Latinos respond to Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s derisive statements about Mexican immigrants have mobilized a large portion of the Latino community in the United States. Faced with the same old accusations that Mexican immigrants are criminals, drug-dealers, or rapists, businesses and public figures such as Univision, NBC, ESPN, NASCAR, Macy’s, chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian, Miss USA contestants, and even mayor of New York Bill de Blasio, took action …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/Publics

My Living Room as a Public Sphere

An Iranian experiment in free society

“I’m not certain that the ideal society should be religious. I start from the premise that the ideal society should be secular.” So spoke documentary filmmaker, Mehran Tamadon, in a conversation with the four conservative mullahs, advocates of the Islamic republic, he invited to be part of his new movie Iranian. The conversation consists of five men sitting in a living room in Iran, arguing about the ideal society: this is pretty much the plot.

Behind closed doors, the mullahs’ wives are relegated to the bedrooms as their children play in the garden; in the living room, the four clerics and the self-avowed atheist embark upon a fascinating experiment. …

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O.O.P.S.Theory & Practice

Arendt’s Plurology

The sociologist reading Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition is bound to squint at the page in puzzlement when Arendt gives her definition of society. So would, I think, most readers of the text. Arendt’s fondness for assigning new meanings to commonly used words is most perfectly demonstrated in that moment when she nonchalantly declares that “society” is a distinctly modern phenomenon: the intrusion of the private sphere into the public, resulting in a massive emptying of the value of human association.

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CapitalismEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Democracy’s Crisis

We are currently experiencing a major crisis of democracy. What is at stake here is the specifically political dimension of a broader, multifaceted crisis, which also has other important dimensions — for example, economic, financial, ecological, and social. Taken together, all of these aspects, including the political dimension of democratic crisis, add up to a “general crisis.” It is at bottom a crisis of capitalism — or rather, of our current, historically specific form of capitalism: financialized, globalizing, neoliberal capitalism. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia/PublicsReligion

Banning the Minarets in Switzerland

The limits of the liberal public sphere and the dark side of monstration

There is no problem with Islam in Switzerland. At least, there was none until 2009. But then, confounding poll predictions, and stupefying the Swiss political institutions, religious organizations, as well as mainstream media, 57.5% of the citizen voted a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets. Yet, less than half a million of Muslims lives in the country. The majority of them (90%) comes from Turkey or Central Europe. They amount to eight per cent of the Swiss population. And out of the two hundred Muslim centers in Switzerland, only four mosques had a minaret.

Nonetheless, a Constitutional amendment was necessary, according to the Egerkingen Committee, the promoters of this federal popular initiative. The bill was framed as a preventive strike to stop the “Islamization” of the nation. Western — read “Judeo-Christian” — civilization and women were under the threat of Islam. Thus went the argument. …

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