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Democracy By Who? For Whom?


* This Olio is sold out but you can still grab a seat in our final session of the 4-part series with BAM. *

Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian Democracy, enacted reforms—known as isonomia, or “equality through law”—which dramatically decreased nepotism and increased governmental representation of the Athenian people. We like to believe that our country’s brand of democracy has always followed ancient Greek ideals, but George Washington believed that only the “lower class of people” should serve as foot soldiers in the Continental Army. Thomas Jefferson envisioned his public schools educating talented students “raked from the rubbish” of the lower class. And John Adams believed the “passion for distinction” was a powerful human force: “There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species.” The truth is, our founding fathers intended for many people to be left out of the social contract.

In this seminar, participants examine the history of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this country. From the discovery of the New World to the Trail of Tears, from the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II to Black Lives Matter, we look at moments when American democracy failed on its promise of inalienable rights to a significant percentage of its population.

The Great Experiment: Questioning Democracy presented by BAM & Think Olio is open to all curious people, regardless of educational background. The format of each seminar comprises three 15-minute lectures, followed by discussion and text analysis with a professor.




Location: BAM Fisher

321 Ashland Place Brooklyn, NY 11217

The BAM Fisher Hillman Studio is a large performance and event space in BAM Fisher.


Other upcoming Olios


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Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Sep 26

Olio Seminar | Words Shape Worlds: The Discourse of Courtrooms

Taught by Maureen Matarese
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $40

Sep 28

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Taught by Charles Riley
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Sep 29

OlioHouse Weekend | Afrofuturism & Herbalism

Taught by Makeba Lavan
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $75

Sep 29

The Coded, the Woven, and the Spoken

Taught by Sofi Thanhauser
4 p.m. at Mana Contemporary

Sign Up - $0

Oct 9

Olio Seminar | The New Deadly Sins

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $40

Oct 12

Communities and Their Pitfalls

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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