- Alexandra Wishart on Defund the Police, Police Brutality, and Racism in the United States
Eight minutes and forty-six seconds – that’s how long Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd during an arrest over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill on the evening of May 25th, 2020.
The incident was captured on camera by bystanders on the street and saw Floyd repeatedly beg officers to let him go, crying out “I can’t breathe” as onlookers equally pleaded with officers to no avail – eerily reminiscent of the last words uttered by Eric Garner in the final moments of his life in 2014, when he was also choked to death by a police officer in New York for selling cigarettes on the street.
Eight minutes and forty-six seconds – that’s how long it took police to kill a man, and to spark a national revolt in the process. These incidents and countless others like them over centuries have led to a global outcry against racism and police brutality in the US, with protests even amidst the fear of COVID-19 not only taking place in every state in the American union, but states around the world.
Fighting back against the bigotry and systematic targeting of black and brown bodies since the very inception of the nation, citizens of all colours and backgrounds have taken to the streets, calling for not only the prosecution of police officers guilty of racialized violence, but a radical re-evaluation of not only policing but the nature of race in America today.
As curfews are being enacted and quarantines are defied in the name of equality and justice I spoke with Alexandra Wishart about the institutionalization of racism in the United States. Alex is a critical race scholar and one of the PhD students here at Carleton’s Department of Political Science. Her experience with the issues at play with racism in America come not only from a history of teaching American Politics at institutions like Georgia State University, but through many years as an activist in the American south where she spent most of her life.
- Taylor Green on Political Philosophy and COVID-19: Lessons and Allusions
The response to COVID-19 across the world has been unlike anything experienced in the contemporary era. Changing the nature of human experience from interaction to isolation, the virus has had a previously unimaginable impact on states, societies and economies around the world.
The political impact of Coronavirus has been immense, but perhaps more significant has been the philosophical impact on the human condition itself.
What are the impacts on the psyche as death and disease take on a global scale? How does humanity continue to progress when – to take a page from Yeats – in the widening gyre things fall apart and the centre cannot hold? And what are some of the lessons we can learn from theorists throughout history who wrote in times of pestilence and plague?
In the second episode in our series on the politics of COVID-19, we take a look at the contributions made by political theorists in our understanding of Coronavirus and its social, economic and political impacts, and look to history to find philosophical inferences that can be drawn from plagues and disease in the past.
To discuss these issues I am joined by Taylor Green. Taylor is a PhD student with Carleton University’s Department of Political Science specializing in political theory, the philosophy of technology and Canadian political thought.
For more information on Taylor and his work, check out his Department profile:
- Paul Thomas on the (Canadian) Politics of COVID-19
Since our last episode the world has fundamentally changed. COVID-19 – born from the alleged consumption of a bat purchased in an illegal market in Wuhan, China – has spread across the globe and in a sense put humanity on hold. Millions have caught it, hundreds of thousands have died, and in its wake a new reality of social distancing has emerged, where the best hope in combating the disease lies in people’s capacity to no longer interact in person.
Across the world states have struggled to face the disease and save lives, enacting a myriad of policies and approaches to mitigate the human and economic damage of COVID 19. And as would be expected the results have been mixed, ranging from East Asian success stories to the abject failure of the Trump administration in the United States to adequately deal with the disease.
In the first of a series of podcasts on COVID-19 this episode will focus on the Canadian response to coronavirus. At the present time nearly fifty thousand Canadian citizens have contracted it, with deaths inching towards three thousand nation-wide. While hope lies in the fact that contraction rates have begun to slow, anxiety has continued to rise as politicians and policy-makers have begun to discuss the re-opening local economies after nearly two months in stasis.
Joining us to talk about the Canadian response to COVID-19 is Paul Thomas, a senior research associate with the Samara Center for Democracy and an adjunct professor with the Department of Political Science here at Carleton University.
- Aaron Ettinger on the Democratic Primaries and the Chances of an American Leftist Foreign Policy
Later this year, controversial American President Donald Trump will make his first bid for re-election against a currently unknown Democratic candidate. And in many ways the face to find that candidate has stirred just as much intrigue as the inevitable campaign road ahead.
Over the past few months the playing field of over 20 potential leadership nominees has whittled down to just a select few, with each offering a different vision of what the party should look like in the years ahead.
In many ways these diverging views also result in very different visions of public policy, not the least of which including a policy area heavily impacted by President Trump’s “America First” vision – foreign policy.
How does Joe Biden’s vision of America’s place in the world differ from Bernie Sanders’, or Elizabeth Warren’s for that matter? To answer these questions we’re joined this week on the Carleton University Political Science Podcast by Dr. Aaron Ettinger, a professor here at Carleton’s Department of Political Science specializing in American Foreign policy.
Professor Ettinger recently published “Is there an emerging left-wing foreign policy in the United States?”
- Killing the King - Waller Newell on Donald Trump and the Politics of Impeachment
The controversy surrounding the Trump administration recently reached a new zenith with the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives enacting the articles of impeachment, resulting in only the third impeachment trial in American history currently unfolding within the Senate.
Spawning from an alleged withholding of foreign aid as a means to pressure a foreign government – in this case, the Ukrainian government under Volodymyr Zelensky – into investigating one of the American President’s domestic rivals, the trial has put questions of the limits of Presidential privilege, the abuse of power and founders intent front and centre in American political discourse.
As the trial reaches its end, we spoke with Professor Waller R. Newell about the impeachment proceedings. Professor Newell is one of the longest-tenured faculty members with the Department of Political Science at Carleton University and is an expert in the great canon of political theory. As one of his seminal works “Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice and Terror” enjoys the release of a newly expanded volume, Professor Newell discusses the politics of impeachment and the legacy of the Trump administration on this episode of the Carleton University Political Science Podcast.
- James Milner on New Challenges and New Hopes at the Global Refugee Forum
This past December the United Nations High Commission for Refugees held its first Global Refugee Forum – a massive conference in Geneva featuring policy makers and civil society organizations from around the world.
The meeting sought to take the blueprint created by the UN’s Compact on Refugees and forge it into action, resulting in the announcement of nearly 800 pledges related to the plights faced by migrating bodies and marginalized people across the globe. And one of the attendees of the Global Refugee Forum was Carleton University’s own James Milner.
Professor Milner is an associate professor with the Department of Political Science, and one of the most respected migration scholars in the world today. He is also the project director of LERRN, the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network – a major collaborative research project bringing together academics and civil society organizations from around the world – and has worked as a consultant to the UN’s High Commission for Refugees.
On this week’s episode of the Carleton University Political Science Podcast Professor Milner offers his reflections on the Global Refugee Forum, the push for a more inclusive global order in migration policy, and the road required to turn pledges and hopes into substantive policy change.
- On Star Wars and Political Theory with Jeremy Keats
As one of the biggest and longest-running franchises in cinematic history, the Star Wars saga has maintained a special and revered place in the hearts of millions around the world. Walking the line between Hollywood tentpole and cultural meditation, Star Wars is a cinematic phenomenon unlike any other, using archetypes as much as storytelling and special effects to make ontological statements on spirituality, philosophy, and indeed politics as well.
As a cultural text, the Jedi saga heralds to larger questions relevant to our contemporary political context such as the struggle between tradition and modernity, the overarching role of technology and the rise of nativism and extreme exclusionary politics, which begs us as political scientists to ask two interrelated questions: what are the political inferences that can be drawn from the Star Wars saga? And how can political philosophy aid us achieving a deeper and richer understanding of the mythos of that famed tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far away?
- The Politics of the Game - Professor Aaron Ettinger on Sports and Politics
The Colin Kaepernick-NFL situation took an unexpected turn in recent weeks when the exiled former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers was invited to a public practice by the Atlanta Falcons. For three years Kaepernick has been forced to sit on the sidelines, exiled from the 49ers and blacklisted by the ownership of every other NFL franchise for his controversial choice to “take the knee” during the ceremonial playing of the American national anthem in protest of the increasing violence against African American citizens perpetrated by American law enforcement.
While Kaepernick’s return to the field was surprising, the muted response by the NFL and its various franchises was not, with the vast majority of teams choosing to ignore the practice altogether, citing the inconvenience of a last-minute change in venue and an alleged lack of need for an elite-level quarterback on the bench.
But while Kaepernick continues to be treated as a pariah by the league he has become a contemporary folk hero for anti-oppression social movements throughout the United States and the world at large, and a central part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement that has come to redefine social movement activity in the digital age.
And he’s not alone in this regard – from Megan Rapinoe and the women of American soccer pushing not only for equality within their sport but American society at large, to Lebron James’ Twitter critiques of the American President, athletes have emerged as some of the most prolific and influential non-political voices in the political world. And while the practice of this agency has taken a very specific shape in the current era of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and social media, the tradition of the ‘athlete as rebel’ is one that has a long history, stretching back to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.
On this week’s podcast we focus on the politics of the game using an institutional lens, dissecting the institutional logics of both elite and amateur sport leagues, the place of politics in sports and the political agency of athletes with Professor Aaron Ettinger, an assistant professor specializing in international relations and foreign policy with Carleton University’s Department of Political Science.
- Louise Cockram on The Trials of Being a First Time MP in Canada
After one of the most controversial and scandal-ridden federal election campaigns in recent history, Canadians made their voices heard in selecting the Liberal Party to a second consecutive government. And while Election Night 2019 saw the re-election of many longstanding Members of Parliament, it would also see the emergence of many new MP’s taking their seat in the House of Commons for the very first time.
For these rookie MP’s the life of a parliamentarian is a novel experience they’ve never encountered before, and this begs a simple question: what is it like for first time MP’s to formally enter the world of Canadian politics? This week on the Carleton University Political Sceince Podcast we talk with PhD candidate Louise Cockram about her researcher on the experience of rookie MP’s in the House of Commons and the trials of orientation they face when taking their seat in Parliament.
- Paul Thomas: #Elxn43 and Why Campaigns Matter
On Monday October 21 Canadians will be heading to the polls to name their choice to lead the country for the next four years. After several months of controversy, scandal and politicking, Justin Trudeau’s incumbent Liberal Party has found itself in a dead-heat with Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada, with no clear winner in sight.
As the campaign comes to a close and Election Day 2019 looms we talk with Professor Paul Thomas – one of the many Canadianists from our department – about the election, the key issues for Canadians and the state of the Canadian democracy in this week’s episode of the Carleton University Political Science Podcast.
- Waller R. Newell: The Revolutionary Longing for Political Wholeness
Waller R. Newell describes his course Concepts of Political Community ll: The Revolutionary Longing for Political Wholeness. PSCI 5309 is offered Winter 2020.
What is the meaning of political life? Is it meant to protect our rights as individuals, leaving us free to work hard and prosper in private life? That is the recipe for the classical liberalism of Locke and the early modern social contract theorists. But what if political life is about much more than this? What if it is meant to give us a sense of participating in a community of our fellow citizens? What if the purpose of life is not merely utility, but nobility and virtue? In this course, we will explore that alternative as it emerges through the Philosophy of Freedom, launched by Rousseau and developed in the works of Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Heidegger and their ever more revolutionary and even illiberal expectations for the future transformation of the human condition, a Third Age of collective bliss variously evoked by Marx’s proletariat, Nietzsche’s Superman and Heidegger’s vision of the German “community of destiny.”
- Waller R. Newell: Political Modernity as the Conquest of Nature
Waller R. Newell describes his course Political Theory ll: Political Modernity as the Conquest of Nature. PSCI 6301 is offered Winter 2020.
In this course, we will examine how the modern political project can be expressed as the conquest of nature. We will begin with the Platonic-Aristotelian teaching that human beings should live within the natural order, criticizing the view of the Sophists that we can assert our mastery over nature to achieve power through exploiting others. Machiavelli inaugurates the full-blown modern project for the conquest of nature to create power and prosperity for princes and peoples, which both was and was not a return to the Sophists owing to the impact of the concept of the Creator God. Machiavelli’s prescription for the modern state is carried forward by his successors including Bacon and Hobbes until it is forced to a screeching halt by the great protest of the Philosophy of Freedom begun by Rousseau and continuing through Hegel and the historical school. We end with Heidegger, who takes us back to the beginning by arguing that global technology, the summation of the modern political project, is grounded in ancient Greek techne but constitutes a radical modification of it. We will conclude with some critical engagements of Heidegger’s understanding of modernity as technology by thinkers including George P. Grant and Leo Strauss.
- Andrea Chandler: Vladimir Putin: What can Canadians learn from his 20 year rule?
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has now been in power for 20 years. Is he a successful leader? What does Putin’s longevity mean for Canadians? Professor Andrea Chandler, author of three books on Russian and post-Soviet politics, offers her reflections on these questions.