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Roundtable Discussion

The Divided Society — POSTPONED

Please visit for news on this postponed event.


Welcome: Barbara Faedda, Italian Academy
A brief introduction to Reset Dialogues: Jonathan Laurence

Opening talk: Mark Lilla
Jelani Cobb, Respondent
Discussion moderated by Marina Calloni


Roundtable with Sheri Berman, Ian Buruma, Jedediah Purdy
Discussion moderated by Lisa Anderson

The new decade has revealed deepening fault lines and unrelieved polarization. In contemporary democracies, there is less disagreement on the facts, such as the existence of ethnic diversity or economic inequality. But conflict over the correct policy responses continues unabated. Nation-states have succeeded in creating a common conversation, but the participating sides are increasingly interpreting it differently. As readers and viewers, citizens keep to their own kind, thus widening the chasms in standards for recognition or outrage and the perceived tradeoffs between inclusion and liberties. When policy debates devolve into winner-take-all showdowns, the lessons learned by the political parties tend to drive them further apart.

From the realm of foreign policy to the politics of identity, an unresolved question haunts our liberal democratic systems: where does popular sovereignty truly reside? With the current wave of charismatic chief executives and constitutional crises in the democratic and democratizing world, echoes of Carl Schmitt reverberate in the chambers of parliament and the halls of justice. Democracies that prize political majoritarianism without protecting voices of the minority encourage defeatism. Are we becoming inured to the reality of an increasingly divided society?

Reset Dialogues, in collaboration with the Italian Academy at Columbia University and the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, presents a half-day event to confront these themes in furtherance of its mission to promote cultural pluralism and political liberties.

For information please contact:

Attendance is free and open to the public upon registration HERE

Event Date 
Wed, Mar 11, 2020, 11:00 am to 3:30 pm