Democracy in Peril?
Democratic Erosion in Latin America amid COVID-19
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
4:00PM to 5:00PM
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Talk will be followed by a discussion
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Taking a holistic, comparative and multidimensional approach, Alison, Alvin, Shauna and Paraney will examine how COVID-19 is impacting democracy and socio-economic development in Latin American countries. In particular, they will focus on Brazil, El Salvador, Paraguay and Costa Rica as case studies.
This talk will center around four questions: 1) Has the pandemic caused democratic erosion? 2) What are its impacts on democratic institutions in these countries? 3) What are its impacts on socio-economic development in these societies? 4) What are potential domestic and international remedies for these adverse impacts?
The speakers will highlight how rising inequality and declining economic performance create the conditions that contribute to democratic erosion. They will pay special attention to marginalized populations, such as people in the favelas of Brazil and Nicaraguan migrant workers in Costa Rica.
After the talk, there will be a discussion session to explore potential solutions and policy recommendations to address democratic erosion and deteriorating socio-economic conditions during COVID-19. Audiences are especially encouraged to participate in the discussion!
Zihan Alison Pang is currently studying international relations at the University of Toronto. She is the president of Internet Governance Forum at U of T, a columnist at Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies, a researcher at Engineers Without Borders, and a steering committee member of the project, Anti-Asian Racism during COVID-19, jointly supported by the Canada-China Initiatives Fund and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her research interests include democratization/democracy consolidation, internet governance, and East Asian politics.
Xiao Alvin Yang is currently a PhD candidate in Political and Economic Science at Universität Kassel, Germany and a visiting research fellow at York Centre for Asian Research, Canada. His dissertation aims to theorize the current (changing) global order and global political economy where there are on-going tensions among globalization, regional integration and the resurgence of nationalism. Moreover, he has been a visiting research fellow at Lund University in Sweden, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and York University in Canada. His works have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals both in English and Chinese, such as The Journal of China and International Relations, The Journal of Chinese Political Science, and The Journal of International Relations (Chinese). His recent book chapter, “Theorizing the BRICS”, has appeared in The International Political Economy of the BRICS (Routledge 2019).
Shauna McLean is currently pursuing an International Relations and Peace Justice and Conflict degree with a minor in Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations that focuses on the Arabic language at the University of Toronto. She is involved in Trinity Against Sexual Assault and Harassment, HanVoice, and AIESEC in Toronto. Her research interests include displaced populations, the Middle East, women’s rights in public health, democracy building and activism, and climate change. She is hoping to continue research with the goal of creating feasible policy recommendations that combat democratic erosion.
Paraney Babuharan is currently studying political science and economics at the University of Toronto. He is the president of U of T Students for Free Speech, the vice president of U of T Students for Liberty, and a columnist at Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies. His research interests include postliberal thought, religion and politics, political economy of technology, and immigration and multiculturalism.
This project was funded by the “U of T COVID-19 Student Engagement Award” through the generosity of the University of Toronto Office of the Vice-President, International and the Faculty of Arts & Science. We thank Prof. Joy Fitzgibbon at the University of Toronto for her helpful and insightful comments and suggestions.