Online Seminar Series | Long-Term Governance and Democracy 19 Nov–1 Dec 2021

Time: 19 November – 1 December 2021
Place: Zoom https://utu.zoom.us/j/62521394124 (Meeting ID: 625 2139 4124)

In this seminar series, leading scholars explore the themes of long-term governance and democracy. Hosted by PALO (Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making) research consortium, the series consists of three academic talks by guest speakers.

The talks are based on recently published books. They deal with the role of expertise and democratic deliberation in future-regarding decision-making, as well as prospects of democratic renewal through citizen participation and deliberation.

The online series is open to all. No registration is required.

Schedule


Times are local Finnish time, time zone Eastern European Time EET (UTC+2).

Friday 19 November 2021 at 09:00-10:00 (EET)
Vincent Ialenti (University of Southern California): Deep Time Decision: An Anthropology of Finland’s Nuclear Waste Repository Licensing Ritual
Host: Kaisa Herne (University of Tampere)

The recording will be available until 21 December 2021.

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Wednesday 24 November at 15:00-16:00 (EET)
Michael MacKenzie (University of Pittsburgh): Future Publics: Democracy, Deliberation, and Future-Regarding Collective Action
Host: Lauri Rapeli (Åbo Akademi University)

The recording will be available until 21 December 2021.

Presentation (MacKenzie): Future Publics: Democracy, Deliberation, and Future-Regarding Collective Action (pdf)

 

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Wednesday 1 December 15:00-16:00 (EET)

Hélène Landemore (Yale University): Open Democracy: Democratic Representation beyond Elections
Host: Maija Setälä (University of Turku)

The recording will be available until 21 December 2021.

 

Abstracts

Vincent Ialenti (University of Southern California): Deep Time Decision: An Anthropology of Finland’s Nuclear Waste Repository Licensing Ritual

Drawing on thirty-two months of ethnographic fieldwork in Finland and the book Deep Time Reckoning, this talk examines how “safety case” experts assembled technical evidence to persuade Finland’s nuclear regulatory authority STUK to permit the construction of what will likely become the world’s first deep geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel. These experts combined techniques of analogical reasoning, quantitative modeling, qualitative scenario-making, mechanical stress testing, and geological/ecological fieldwork to make tentative projections of far future worlds. From their transdisciplinary collaborations emerged visions of future glaciations, climate changes, earthquakes, floods, human and animal population changes, and more. These forecasting efforts can be recast as an anthropological problem-space for re-thinking the value of future-gazing technical expertise during a moment of global political, ecological, and epistemic uncertainty. First, however, one must resist the impulse to dismiss the safety case’s hyper-constructions outright as mere fantasy documents devised to manipulate stakeholders into consent. While the safety case was, indeed, made to persuade, its authors saw their farsighted inquiries as flawed-but-pragmatic projections borne out of reflexive self-critique, multi-perspectival visioning, and iterative revision cycles. Scouring their subtle epistemic sensibilities for lessons about the promises and perils of long-term decision-making, this talk concludes by retooling safety case experts’ reflections on the limits of knowledge into poly-temporal strategies for engaging with socio-ecological futures near and deep.

Michael MacKenzie (University of Pittsburgh): Future Publics: Democracy, Deliberation, and Future-Regarding Collective Action

Scholars have often claimed that democracies, whatever their virtues, are functionally short-sighted. The evidence is clear: we have been unable to manage many long-term issues including climate change, nuclear waste disposal, natural disaster preparedness, infrastructure maintenance, and budget deficits. If voters and influential actors, such as interest groups and corporations, have dominant short-term interests, it may be difficult for elected politicians to act in the long-term interests of society, even if they think that it would be the right thing to do. To solve long-term problems, do we need political systems that are less democratic, or even authoritarian?

This idea, which Michael K. MacKenzie calls the “democratic myopia thesis,” is a sort of conventional wisdom; it is an idea that scholars and pundits take for granted as a truth about democracy without subjecting it to adequate critical scrutiny. In Future Public, MacKenzie challenges this conventional wisdom and articulates a deliberative, democratic theory of future-regarding collective action. Specifically, MacKenzie argues that each part of the democratic myopia problem can be addressed through democratic—rather than authoritarian—means. At a more fundamental level, once we recognize that democratic practices are world-making activities that empower us to make our shared worlds together, they should also be understood as future-making activities. Despite the short-term dynamics associated with electoral democracy, MacKenzie asserts that we need more inclusive and deliberative democracies if we are going to make shared futures that will work for us all.

 

Hélène Landemore (Yale University): Open Democracy: Democratic Representation beyond Elections

Is it possible to have democratic representation without elections? In her new book Open Democracy, Landemore argues that new forms of participation in the political process that are often  nested under the label of “direct democracy” (also “participatory,” “deliberative” or even “citizen” democracy) should be conceptualized instead as new forms of democratic representation. To make this conceptualization possible Landemore disentangles the related but distinct notions of representation, “democraticity,” and legitimacy. She then evaluates the democratic character of a representative assembly or position—its “democraticity”—in terms of the degree to which access to that assembly or position is inclusive and equal. On that basis she then assesses the various merits, including in terms of accountability of two forms of democratic representation, namely lottocratic representation, performed by randomly selected bodies of citizens such as Citizen Juries, Deliberative Polls, or Citizens’ Assemblies and self-selected representation, performed by self-appointed participants in social movements and open assemblies.

 

Inquiries:

Should you have questions concerning the event, please contact Project Coordinator Mari Taskinen (mjtask@utu.fi).