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About Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a cultural historian and media scholar. In addition to his openDemocracy column, his work has been published in American Scholar, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other prestigious journals.

Articles by Siva Vaidhyanathan

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Creative Commons: Making copyright work for democracy

Since its inception openDemocracy has set the standard for accessible and informed deliberation of globally important issues. Now it is truly both open and democratic. Siva Vaidhyanathan welcomes openDemocracy to the Creative Commons.

From 13 June 2005 openDemocracy will be publishing the majority of its articles under Creative Commons licences. It's part of our contribution to global democracy. The rest is up to you. Click here to read more.

Heartbreak Hotel

The eleventh and last of his “Remote Control” columns finds Siva Vaidhyanathan contrite over the American election result, and worried about the frightened and angry country it reflects.

Bring democracy back to America

The United States experienced real democracy only from 1965-2000, from the civil rights era to the post-Florida judicial coup, says Siva Vaidhyanathan. Whatever the result on 2 November, American citizens need to seize the responsibility of remaking it.

What happens when we vote?

The impact of new technologies makes a fair voting, recording and counting system even more essential to a healthy democratic process. Recent international experience, says Siva Vaidhyanathan, highlights four guiding principles that should be followed: trust, accountability, openness, and universality. How does the United States measure up?

We are all anarchists now

The “anarchist activists” protesting the Republican party convention in New York are not the dangerous radicals of news media and mayoral imagination.

Panic and perspective

Civil libertarians in the United States are fuming at the FBI arrest of Steven Kurtz, a biotech artist and professor in New York, on charges of terrorism. The security state run amok? No, says Siva Vaidhyanathan: rather, the incident tells a deeper story about the cost of the Bush administration’s dismal record on national security.

The sport of politics

Between basketball and soccer, New York and Amsterdam, America and Europe, the drumbeat of sporting allegiance sends Siva Vaidhyanathan a political message.

Reagan: his character and his consequences

Ronald Reagan’s mythic celebration of America is echoed in the official tributes and memorials that accompany him to the grave. Siva Vaidhyanathan acknowledges a genius of evasion whose disastrous social impact carried a saving grace that his Bushite successor lacks.

Our last great hope

In Guantanamo Bay, the United States is cynically employing the brutal extra-judicial practices of its long-time foe Fidel Castro. In Iraq, US soldiers have been torturing prisoners in Saddam’s chambers. Siva Vaidhyanathan is worried. Can America be forgetting itself?

Texas: Part 2 - Remembering the Alamo

The myths and legends of Texas are a far cry from the reality. As Disney releases its new blockbuster “The Alamo”, Siva Vaidhyanathan sits in a café a mile away from the Texan shrine and ponders the meaning of freedom.

Texas: Part 1

Want to understand George Bush’s America? You could do worse than visit Texas. Siva Vaidhyanathan returns to his old hunting ground.

Responsibility is no fun

America has a remote control relationship with the world. From virtual war to TV news, its citizens take a passive role in world affairs. As the power and influence of the United States spreads across the globe, who is responsible for its impact?

'This machine kills fascists'

How committed are we to free speech? In the first of his new monthly columns on life in America, Siva Vaidhyanathan, passionate champion of liberty, abandons the cause when faced with airport security, his wife and the ghost of Woody Guthrie.

Part 5: Networks of power and freedom

Part 5 of The new information ecosystem: networks of power and freedom

Part 4: The nation-state vs. networks

Part 4 of The new information ecosystem: the nation-state vs. networks

The global conversation: info-anarchy, dissent, and human rights

The core issues raised by p2p are those of ideology and potential, not technology. They imply a defence of universal rights that seeks the end of all architectures of control.

Part 3: The anarchy and oligarchy of science

Part 3 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

Part 2: 'Pro-gumbo': culture as anarchy

Part 2 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

The new information ecosystem: Part 1: cultures of anarchy and closure

Part 1 of The new information ecosystem: cultures of anarchy and closure

Cyberspace, copyright and cynicism: Questions and answers

After the Siva Vaidhyanathan talk at openDemocracy with on 6 June 2002, there was a lively discussion. Here are some extracts, by Solana Larsen.

The contract of copyright: towards an ethical cynicism?

Cyberspace is an essentially cynical medium, says the leading internet thinker Siva Vaidhyanathan, in a talk presented at the London offices of openDemocracy on 6 June 2002. But an illusion-free awareness of the character of the net paradoxically opens up the ethical discussion needed to guide and regulate it.
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