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Perfect timing for MatchPoints seminar

Recent events in Africa and the Middle-East make AU’s annual MatchPoints seminar more timely than ever.

Michael Böss, who has been organizing MatchPoints.Seminar since its inception. Foto: Lars Kruse | AU-foto.
Fareed Zakaria. Foto: Royce Carlton.
Francis Fukuyama. Foto: Lars Kruse | AU-foto.

Philosophically, Aarhus University’s MatchPoints Seminar has always been interesting. The annual event, which began in 2007, has dissected myriad issues that appeal to intellectuals the world over.
The first conference, for instance, dealt with how societies could achieve economic growth without giving up the “democratic values that may arguably be the sine qua non of successful globalisation.” Subsequent topics have included “the transforming state,” “the knowledge economy as a state project” and other issues that require membership in Mensa and/or a PhD to fully understand.
This year’s topic has a similarly heady bent: “An interdisciplinary conference on democracy and democratisation.”
But lo and behold, what was once merely philosophical has turned imminently practical.

Turmoil and timing

“It’s more exciting this year,” says Michael Böss, who has been organizing the events since its inception. “It’s really very, very exciting to be organizing this in light of what’s going on.”
An unprecedented spate of events that have changed the face of democracy around the globe. Fueled by protests for democratic reform, regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled in the span of weeks. Add to that the budding turmoil in countries such as Libya, where hundreds of people have reportedly been killed, and Bahrain, where once-peaceful protests have turned bloody, and the 2011 installment of MatchPoints could hardly be more relevant.
“With the developments in North Africa and the Middle-East,” Böss says, “it’s more relevant than ever to look at what causes great masses of people to demand democracy, to demand respect for their rights, and what motivates them. It’s wonderful because this is so topical – we have a new wave of democratisation.”

Distinguished guests

The seminar will feature a bevy of heavyweight scholars and journalists. One keynote speaker is Fareed Zakaria, author of the best-selling book The Post-American World, editor-at-large for TIME and host of his own television programme on CNN. Born in India and educated at Yale and Harvard, Zakaria is also a featured columnist for the Washington Post and the youngest-ever managing editor of Foreign Affairs.
Another featured speaker at MatchPoints will be Francis Fukuyama, an Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University and, from 2009-12, a visiting professor at Aarhus University. He has written books such as America at a Crossroads and Nation Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.
All of the events will be in English, save a discussion about democracy in Denmark, which will be in Danish.
Tickets to the seminar, which will be held on 12-14 May at Aarhus University, were recently made available to professors (who get in free) and students (who can secure a spot for DKK 50). They can be reserved at the seminar’s web site, matchpoints.au.dk.
“We very much want our foreign students and exchange students to join us,” Böss says. “It’s a great opportunity to meet people, to learn and to attend a conference where there are a great number of high profile thinkers.”