"Social Acceleration, the Democratic Archive, and the Role of Remembering in Political Decision-making"
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Andreas Schäfer, Visiting Professor, Humboldt University of Berlin; Visiting Scholar, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University.
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Panagiotis Roilos, Faculty Associate. George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies, Department of the Classics; Professor of Comparative Literature, Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University.
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Department of Anthropology, and the Humanities Center, The Johns Hopkins University.
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Democratic politics increasingly takes place under time pressure. Theories of social acceleration and emergency politics emphasize the systematic challenges this phenomenon poses to the quality of democratic systems. How do policymakers deal with this challenge? In the talk, I will argue that prevailing approaches neglect the historical dimension of political issues and conflicts that political actors can use as a resource. I ask what role remembering (and forgetting) plays in democratic decision making, how it is enabled or constrained, and what consequences this has for the quality of democracy. To answer this question systematically, I introduce the concept of the "democratic archive" as a framework for analysis. The democratic archive captures those material and immaterial forms of storage of past political experience that can be drawn upon again in current decision-making situations. I will illustrate this argument with two cases of decision-making under time pressure in Germany. Building on this, the potential resources for temporal resilience as well as the pathologies provided by the democratic archive are discussed.