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13th Chicago International Education Conference

Democracy in Recession (2020)

Part 1: October 22 @ 6:00 – 7:15 PM with Victoria Hui
“How Beijing has Killed Hong Kong’s Freedom and Democracy and Why American Students Should Care”

Part 2: October 26 @ 6:00 – 7:15 PM with Nader Hashemi
“Social Protests, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Middle East: A Framework for Understanding”

Part 3: November 6 @ 9:15 AM – 1:30 PM
“Networked Protests and Democracy in the 21st Century” with Zeynep Tufekci
“Artistic Activism” with Stephen Duncombe

Part 4: November 9 @ 6:00 – 7:15 PM with Elena Gapova
“The ‘Urban Revolution’ in Today’s Belarus and Why Women are Leading”
(All times listed are in U.S. Central Time. Full details below.)

Is democracy in recession around the world, or is it striking back? Democracy worldwide is under assault by a spectrum of authoritarian regimes. Their anti-democratic toolbox varies from voter suppression to media control and state-sanctioned violence, but protesters and activists around the world are using some of the same technological tools to fight for freedom of assembly and expression. This series of region-specific lectures and concluding workshop is designed to give teachers tools for introducing these regions and their issues into the classroom, as well as project ideas to further enrich their students.

Registration required: https://forms.gle/y6j6hXjBzZRKdtpV6
Each event will take place virtually over Zoom. Zoom links for your registered events will be emailed to you later.


Victoria Tin-bor Hui

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Hui’s core research examines the centrality of war in the formation and transformation of “China” in the long span of history. She is the author of War and State Formation in Ancient China and Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Dr. Hui also studies contentious politics. As a native from Hong Kong, she has written “Will China Crush the Protests in Hong Kong? Why Beijing Doesn’t Need to Send in the Troops” in Foreign Affairs and “Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement: The Protest and Beyond” in the Journal of Democracy. She also maintains a blog on Hong Kong https://victoriatbhui.wordpress.com. She has extensively commented on Hong Kong politics in the media including the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, ChinaFile, ABC, the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, Bloomberg, Sky News, NPR, Vox, and the Christian Science Monitor.

Nader Hashemi

Associate Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

Dr. Hashemi obtained his doctorate from the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Previously, Dr. Hashemi was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Global Institute. His intellectual and research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics and political theory, in particular debates on religion and democracy, secularism and its discontents, Middle East and Islamic politics, democratic and human rights struggles in non-Western societies and Islam-West relations. For more information see his website: www.naderhashemi.com

Zeynep Tufekci

Associate Professor, UNC School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Tufekci is an Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), a principal researcher at Carolina’s Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), and a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and regularly writes columns for the New York TimesWIRED, and Scientific American. Her book, Twitter and Teargas: The Ecstatic, Fragile Politics of Networked Protest in the 21st Century (Yale 2018), examines the dynamics, strengths, and weaknesses of 21st century social movements. Dr. Tufekci’s research interests revolve around the intersection of technology and society. Her academic work focuses on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance, and social interaction. She has become a go-to source for national and international media outlets looking for insights on the impact of social media and the growing influence of machine algorithms.

Stephen Duncombe

Professor, the Gallatin School and the Department of Media, Culture and Communications, New York University

Dr. Duncombe’s interests lie in media, art, and culture. He teaches and writes on the history of mass and alternative media and the arts, and the intersection of culture and politics. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy (The New Press, 2007) and Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture (Verso, 1997) co-author, along with Andrew Mattson, of The Bobbed Haired Bandit: Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York (New York University Press, 2006), editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader (Verso, 2002), co-editor, along with Maxwell Tremblay, of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race (Verso, 2011), and writes on the intersection of culture and politics for a range of scholarly and popular publications. Dr. Duncombe is also the creator of Open Utopia, an open-access, open-source, web-based edition of Thomas More’s Utopia. He is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism, a research and training institute that helps activists to create more like artists and artists to strategize more like activists.

Elena Gapova

Professor, Department of Sociology, Western Michigan University

Elena Gapova is Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University specializing in gender, class, nation, and social movements in post-Soviet space. She was the Founding Director for the Centre for Gender Studies at European Humanities University in Minsk, Belarus. Her most recent book in Russian is The Classes of Nations: a Feminist Critique of Nation Building.


NOTE: All dates and times listed below are in U.S. Central Time


6:00-7:00 PM   “How Beijing has Killed Hong Kong’s Freedom and Democracy and Why American Students Should Care”

Victoria Hui (Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame)

Professor Hui will narrate Hong Kong’s struggle for freedom and democracy through two protest slogans: from “Today’s Tiananmen, Tomorrow’s Hong Kong” in 1989 to “Today’s Tibet/Xinjiang, Tomorrow’s Hong Kong” in 2020. For three decades, Hong Kong people have struggled for democracy so as to preserve their preexisting freedoms. Chinese leaders, on the other hand, have tried to make Hong Kong safe for the Chinese Communist Party. The national security law aims to kill Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy. Hong Kong people have vowed to fight on to prevent the city’s further descent into the daily struggles and harsh reality faced in Tibet or Xinjiang. Hong Kong is a global city and its fate shapes the future of the world order. American students can help by supporting Congressional acts and government policies that protect Hong Kongers.

7:00-7:15 PM   Q&A


6:00-7:00 PM   “Social Protests, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Middle East: A Framework for Understanding”

Nader Hashemi (Associate Professor, University of Denver)

The Middle East seems to be perpetually in turmoil. This region is broadly identified in the American imagination with dictators, wars, the oppression of women, extremist movements and failed states. Are these problems the result internal cultural/religious factors or are the problems of Middle East attributable to external factors connected to foreign intervention and exploitation? How can educators begin to address this topic dispassionately, objectively and honestly? What is the best pedagogical approach to adopt when teaching this emotionally charged and controversial subject? This lecture will answer these questions.

7:00-7:15 PM   Q&A


9:15-9:30 AM   Welcome

9:30-10:30 AM  “Networked Protests and Democracy in the 21st Century”

Zeynep Tufekci (Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

In this keynote lecture, Professor Zeynep Tufekci discusses how ‘networked protests’ in the 21st century are responding to rising authoritarianism around the world in novel ways and reimagining democratic participation. Drawing on her research in Twitter and Tear Gas, Professor Tufekci will also shed light on the unique challenges that contemporary social movements face as they incorporate social media and other cutting-edge digital tools. Educators will gain an understanding of how ‘networked protests’ function and why it is important to engage with them in the classroom.

10:30-11:00 AM   Break

11:00-12:30 PM  “Artistic Activism”

Stephen Duncombe (Professor, New York University)

Today’s political topography is composed of signs and symbols, stories and spectacles, and in order to operate successfully on this landscape, activists have been turning to the arts for inspiration. In this interactive workshop, historical case studies and contemporary examples will be used to explain this hybrid practice that combines the effect of activism and the affect of the arts, and participants will brainstorm their own artistic activist projects.

12:30-1:00 PM   Q&A


6:00-7:00 PM  “The ‘Urban Revolution’ in Today’s Belarus and Why Women are Leading”

Elena Gapova (Professor, Western Michigan University)

On August 9, 2020, Belarus, a post-socialist nation of nine and a half million, held presidential elections. After polling stations had closed, and Alexander Lukashenko, the president for the last twenty-six years, announced his victory with 80% of votes, people took to the streets. They have been protesting ever since, despite beatings by riot police, arrests, and even torture, demanding fair elections and the release of all political prisoners. The Belarusian revolution, as it is now called, became associated with the image of three women – a presidential candidate and two leaders of her team – raising their hands in the gesture of protest and solidarity. Elena Gapova will narrate the story of women emerging as the leaders of the Revolution as its most active and strong-willed participants.


Click here for a podcast and music-based resource list themed around democracy compiled by the Center for East Asian Studies, Center for East European & Russian/Eurasian Studies, and Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

This conference is presented by the University of Chicago Chicago Center on Democracy, Center for East Asian Studies, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Neighborhood Schools Program with support from Title VI National Resource Center Grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact uchicagoeducatoroutreach@gmail.com in advance.