What is democracy? Astra Taylor
grapples with this question in a documentary of the same name and a forthcoming book. We talk with her this week about what she learned from traveling the world and talking with people from all walks of life. As you’ll hear, she did not set out to make a documentary about democracy, but kept coming back to that question.Taylor is a writer, documentarian, and organizer. In addition to What is Democracy?,
her films include Zizek!
, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, and Examined Life
, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers including Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Peter Singer, and others. A companion book, Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone
, was released May 7 (Metropolitan Books, 2019)
Her writing has appeared in The Nation, the London Review of Books, n+1, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic
, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Examined Life, a companion volume to the film, and the coeditor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America. Her 2015 book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
, won an American Book Award.
Democracy Works is created by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State and recorded at WPSU Penn State, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station.