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concordia 19/02/2019 - 09:00AM

A Fantastic Season-opener with Silvia Federici and Astra Taylor

Images from CP Concordia's screening of WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?

The room was bursting at the seams on January 23rd for the truly remarkable screening of WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Over 700 people attended the first film of the semester and shared a special and enlightening discussion with director Astra Taylor as well as acclaimed feminist scholar and activist Silvia Federici, who is featured in the film.

The eclectic and thought-provoking documentary, which reflects on the meaning and idea of democracy across different continents and eras, feels especially striking in this moment marked by profound political turmoil and social crisis. Flawlessly moving from Ancient philosophers and Renaissance Europe to the Civil Rights Movement and modern-day Greece, the film makes the viewer reflect on a word we too often take for granted. As a trough line in the film, Taylor and Federici discuss a 14th century mural in the city of Siena, Italy, which illustrates democracy and its different facets. Ultimately, Taylor says the film is an invitation to think about what democracy means to different people with various economic, social and geographic backgrounds.

The post-screening Q&A addressed many different topics, from Federici’s past work like the ground-breaking book Wages for Housework (which many got signed after the discussion!) to Taylor’s process and struggles with her film. Her intention of making a feminist intellectual film that is both curious and makes space for people truly resonated with the audience. Ever so gracefully, WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? serves to remind the people of the perils of hegemonic authoritarianism and that democracy is worth fighting for as Taylor said, not from above but always from below.


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