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Speaker: Metta Spencer

Date: Thursday March 31st
Dept of Sociology, U of Toronto, 725 Spadina Avenue, 1200-1:30

Title: "The Prospects for Peace and Democracy in Russia"

Abstract:

Metta Spencer's new book, The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, is
based mainly on hundreds of interviews between 1982 and 2010 that she
conducted in Russia and Eastern Europe. It reflects not only the stories of
leading members of Gorbachev's advisers, but also intellectuals and
dissidents. Focusing on the remarkable interactions between Russian and
foreign elites, especially during the Gorbachev years, it shows how markedly
his democratic and peaceable political, foreign, and military policies came
from Western peace workers. Because those transnational civil society
organizations were obviously "bridging" groups (in Putnam's terminology)
they were especially conductive to democracy. For twenty years, however,
such associations have diminished-largely because Putin, to prevent a
Russian color revolution, has blocked international political projects. For
the sake of  democratization, Spencer proposes that the new media (e.g.
Skype) now be used to proliferate thousands of sustained transnational
dialogues at the grassroots level.

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