Hickok Hall


Imperiled Democracies: Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey, and the US

Mario Affatigato, Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics
Caio Bragatto, Assistant Professor of Physics
Ugur Akgun, Associate Professor of Physics
Firdevs Duru, Assistant Professor of Physics
Steve Feller, B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics
October 31 and November 7, 14, 21


In recent decades, democracies around the world have been weakened by populist governments.
In this four-week forum, Coe physics department faculty originally from Venezuela, Brazil, Turkey, and the United States will explore the status and crisis of democracy in their home countries.  Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics Mario Affatigato begins the series by discussing Venezuela’s democratic journey, tracing events from 1947 to the present-day presidencies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro.  Assistant Professor of Physics Caio Bragatto moves the story to the stormy history of democracy in Brazil from the 1980s to today’s controversial Jair Bolsonaro government.  Assistant Professor of Physics Firdevs Duru and Associate Professor of Physics Ugur Akgun will then focus on Turkey, the only predominantly Muslim democratic country in the world.  After tracing the early twentieth-century roots of Turkish democracy, the presenters will discuss present-day threats to this seventy-year-old democracy under rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  B.D. Silliman Professor Physics Steve Feller, a native of Brooklyn, New York, will conclude the forum by discussing the status of populist politics and democracy in the US.  The session will use the lens of New York City and State politics and politicians (including Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Rudy Giuliani, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) to assess how the present compares to other moments of tumult and fracture in American populist politics.