Nov
17
7:00 pm

Monday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
Smith Recital Hall, Silver Center for the Arts

Voting Laws are Racist

Curtailing early voting. Felony disenfranchisement. Voter ID laws. Eliminating same-day voter registration. For the political right, these are necessary steps to eliminate voter fraud and protect electoral legitimacy. For the political left, these measures are flagrant attempts to keep their core constituencies from the polls. This talk empirically adjudicates between these views while locating the state-level consideration and adoption of restrictive voter access policies in the larger electoral context of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on campaign finance.

Erin O’Brien is associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and the author of The Politics of Identity: Solidarity Building Among America’s Working Poor.

All Sidore lectures are free and open to the public. Tickets are required and may be picked up at the Silver Center Box Office. Reservations are recommended: call (603) 535-ARTS. A reception with light refreshments follows each lecture.

For more information on the series, visit the Sidore Lecture Series website.


Feb ’15
5
7:00 pm

Thursday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m.
Smith Recital Hall, Silver Center for the Arts

Who Has a Megaphone? Who Speaks in a Whisper?: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy 

While inequalities of income are currently in the spotlight, political inequality receives much less attention.  A basic tenet of democracy is that the preferences and needs of all citizens should receive equal consideration.  Political voice—expressed when citizens vote, get in touch with public officials, protest, join organizations that take stands in politics, make political contributions, or otherwise take part in political life—informs policy makers of citizen preferences and needs.

Policymakers do not hear from everybody, and the people and political organizations they do hear from are not representative of the American public.  Those who express political voice, especially those who make financial contributions, are, on average, better educated and more affluent, and since the Supreme Court has taken the lid of campaign contributions, those with deep pockets are poised to speak even more loudly in politics.  If political voice is unequal, then democratic equality is jeopardized.

Kay Schlozman is the J. Joseph Moakley Professor of Political Science at Boston College and author of The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy.

All Sidore lectures are free and open to the public. Tickets are required and may be picked up at the Silver Center Box Office. Reservations are recommended: call (603) 535-ARTS. A reception with light refreshments follows each lecture.

For more information on the series, visit the Sidore Lecture Series website.


Mar ’15
9
7:00 pm

Monday, Mar. 9, 7 p.m.
Smith Recital Hall, Silver Center for the Arts

Convention, Culture, and Corruption: Democracy in Africa 

The past speaks to the present, in an ongoing conversation on democracy as a political system, a model, and an adaptation. Africans do not define democracy as distinct from, nor outside of, the definition of development. That linkage creates yet another problematic question: can leadership and institutions that do not deliver development be treated as democratic? The lecture will argue that the Western-liberal definition of democracy is limited in its application, and that reading Africa through Western literature is not always useful. Democracy in Africa contains dosages of militarism, authoritarianism, and prebendalism, while being constrained by the pressures of globalism.

Toyin Falola is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities, and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria, a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, and the author of The Power of African Cultures, Nationalism and African Intellectuals.

All Sidore lectures are free and open to the public. Tickets are required and may be picked up at the Silver Center Box Office. Reservations are recommended: call (603) 535-ARTS. A reception with light refreshments follows each lecture.

For more information on the series, visit the Sidore Lecture Series website.


Apr ’15
7
7:00 pm

Tuesday, Apr. 7, 7 p.m.
Smith Recital Hall, Silver Center for the Arts

Is the United States a Democracy or an Oligarchy 

In a well-functioning democracy, the preferences and needs of ordinary citizens help shape government policy. By this measure, American democracy is failing. To assess the influences on federal government policymaking, Gilens gathered data on thousands of proposed policy changes over four decades. His analyses of these data show that economic elites and interest groups have considerable sway over policy outcomes, and ordinary citizens have little or none. He’ll discuss what this research reveals about the failures of America’s democratic institutions, as well as the kinds of reforms that might give greater voice and political influence to ordinary citizens.

Martin Gilens is professor of politics at Princeton University and author ofAffluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America.

 

All Sidore lectures are free and open to the public. Tickets are required and may be picked up at the Silver Center Box Office. Reservations are recommended: call (603) 535-ARTS. A reception with light refreshments follows each lecture.

For more information on the series, visit the Sidore Lecture Series website.



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