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episode

Episode 21: Do We Really Know What Democracy Is? — with Astra Taylor

July 22, 2019

Democracy is a term that’s been used, misunderstood, and taken for granted by many — so what does democracy really mean? Am Johal sits down with activist and filmmaker Astra Taylor to explore how people interpret ‘democracy’ and how we can better understand it. Astra is the director behind the film What is Democracy?, a documentary that tackles this question, alongside celebrated theorists and a diverse cast of folks from different walks of life. Together, they try to understand who gets to participate in democracy and what that means for our society from a place of curiosity and a search for deeper meaning. 

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Astra Taylor

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005); the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York TimesThe London Review of BooksThe GuardianThe WalrusThe Bafflern+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.


Below the Radar is a weekly podcast hosted by Am Johal. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests. Hosted on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, this podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Democracy Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.

Below the Radar is a weekly podcast hosted by Am Johal. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests. Hosted on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, this podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Democracy Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.