John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB). He is the Director of the newly-founded Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR). Proud of his South Australian roots, John was educated at the Universities of Adelaide and Toronto (where he was mentored by C.B.Macpherson) and King’s College, University of Cambridge.
Well before the European revolutions of 1989, he first came to public prominence as a defender of ‘civil society’ and the democratic opposition in central and eastern Europe. His political and scholarly writing during that period was often published under the pen name Erica Blair. In 1989 he founded the world’s first Centre for the Study of Democracy in London. During his many years in Europe, The Times ranked him one of Britain’s leading political thinkers and a writer whose work has 'world-wide importance'. The Australian Broadcasting Commission recently described him as “one of Australia’s great intellectual exports". In 2009, following several public lecture tours of Iran, the government of that country accused him (falsely) of being a ‘MI6/CIA agent’ and ‘mastermind’ of the democratic opposition.
Among his best-known books are The Media and Democracy (translated into more than 25 languages); the best-selling biography Tom Paine: A Political Life (2009); a new interpretation of the gains and losses of globalisation Global Civil Society? (2003); Violence and Democracy (2004); and The Future of Representative Democracy (2011). He writes a column for the Melbourne-based web platform The Conversation. His Life and Death of Democracy was short-listed for the 2010 Non-Fiction Prime Minister's Literary Award. It is the first full-scale history of democracy for over a century. Portuguese and Greek translations have appeared and Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Spanish editions are on their way.
Disquiet and disaffection are spreading through the drought fields of democracy. The trends demand unorthodox political thinking, a new sense of urgency about democracy’s strengths and weaknesses. But fresh democratic thinking requires different methods of saying things, of exposing silences and taken-for-granted presumptions. The academic article and the book are poorly suited to the task. Notebooks are a better medium for doing these things: they’re a democratic form of writing, as I try to show in a new column for the Melbourne-based web platform The Conversation. Made up of broken and interrupted fragments, they grip the ground but don’t suppose they own it. The democracy notebooks expose perplexities and pose question marks. But as you read them please remember: there are no known maps, timetabled destinations or guaranteed safe passages.
The Democracy Field Notes series is also available to Spanish readers.
The following reflection on the subject of banks and democracy has been prepared for a forthcoming OECD meeting in Paris, in late-May 2013. The text is long, stretching the definition of a field note on present-day democracy. But such matters are sadly neglected by contemporary theorists and analysts of democracy. Comments are most welcome.
ABC 24 talks to Professor John Keane about Julian Assange’s bid for Senate. Professor Keane spent a day with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. 3 April 2013. Original Link here -> Lunch and dinner with Julian Assange, in prison
Everybody warned this would be no ordinary invitation, and they were right. Three hundred metres from Knightsbridge underground station, just a stone’s throw from fashion-conscious Harrods, I suddenly encounter a wall of police. I try to remember my instructions. Look straight ahead. Avoid eye contact. If asked my name, reply with a question. Ask who [...]
During mid-January 2013, John Keane delivered a number of talks and lectures and gave interviews in Castellón and Valencia, Spain. The subjects ranged from mega-projects and power, the political dangers of silence, public disaffection with official politics and the future of monitory democracy.
Bliss was it in that spring to be alive, and to be young, on the streets, was very heaven. Or so it seemed to millions of women and men in early 2011, shortly after the first protests in Tunisia rocked the foundations of the whole Arab world. Public ecstasy flourished. Freed from fear, often for [...]