Arts & Events

Press Release: How Democratic is California?
22nd Annual California Studies Conference in Oakland This Saturday

From Richard Walker
Tuesday April 24, 2012 - 12:21:00 PM

A day-long investigation into what can be done to restore the power of the people

Democracy” is supposed to be the guiding ideal of American politics: a belief in popular sovereignty and representative government. Yet recent developments, from the USA Patriot Act to the Citizens United decision and from enrichment of the 1% to financial collapse, have shaken our faith in democracy. It leads us to ask: what is the present state of Democracy in California and what should be done to restore the power of the people?

In an effort to stimulate ideas and discussion on this timely subject, the California Studies Association will convene scholars, community activists, journalists, policy specialists, historians and writers for a multi-faceted discussion on the responsibilities and challenges of becoming full participants in this nation’s democracy. We hope to engage the general public in a broad but facilitated on how democracy has failed and prevailed in the recent history of our state as well as current movements, issues, and topics such as "Elections and Exclusions," "Citizenship and its Discontents," and "Popular Protest and its Enemies." 

Finally, in light of the Occupy Movement and the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King verdict and the resulting riot/uprising, we will bring together all participants in the conference for an open and frank discussion of whether California politics and government are failing to re-elect the will of the people to conclude the day. The anniversary of the L.A. riot/uprising is a sobering occasion for asking whether popular disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction are any less than they were 20 years ago. 

Participants are invited to have their voices heard by videorecording their thoughts, ideas and responses to the question, “How Democratic is California?” for later posting on the California Studies Association webpage, with videography provided by The Working Group / Not in Our Town. 

Honored with this year's annual Carey McWilliams Award is Robert Gottlieb, Luce Professor of Environmental Studies Occidental College, author of eleven books, including The Next Los Angeles, Reinventing Los Angeles, Forcing the Spring and Environmentalism Unbound. 

All events are open to the public: $40 general, $20 students/low-income. Registration includes lunch and CSA membership; it does not include access to Oakland Museum exhibitions. 

The California Studies Association (CSA) is an independent organization, dedicated to the exchange of ideas about California, the promotion of an integrated understanding of California as a region, and to creating a public discourse on the future of this richly textured state. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA (near Lake Merritt BART station) 

For further information, contact Patricia Miye Wakida / / 559 977-1897