Alexander Görlach

Senior Fellow, Politics and Religion, Democracy and Society in the Digital Age

Alexander Görlach is a senior fellow to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He served as affiliate professor at Harvard, in the ""In Defense of Democracy""-program by the F. D. Roosevelt Foundation at the College, at Adams House, where he continues to be an advisor to the foundation. Prior to these engagements Görlach was a visiting scholar to both, Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Center for European Studies. He is further an honorary professor for ethics and theology at the University of Lüneburg in Germany, and a senior research associate at Cambridge University at the Institute for Religion and International Studies. This engagement followed his appointment as fellow at the Center for the Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University.

Görlach holds Ph.D.s in comparative religion and linguistics. He works on narratives of identity, politics and religion, liberal democracy, secularism, pluralism, and cosmopolitanism. In the academic year 2017-2018 he therefore served as visiting scholar in Taiwan and Hong Kong, looking into democracy in East Asia and the rise of China. One narrative of identity he is particularly researching on is the narrative of work. Given the rise of AI, algorithms, and an increasing automatization it is crucial for him to reassess how individuals and societies perceive work and its impact on self-worth and identity.

For his Ph.D. in comparative religion he lived and studied in the Vatican, Cairo, and Ankara, analyzing the inter-religious dialogue between the Holy See and Muslim institutions in Egypt and Turkey. This work laid the ground for his interest in identity, a quest that has gained momentum in the recent years, be it through identity politics in the United States, Britain, or Europe and populist movements in all parts of the world.

Görlach is the founder of the debate-magazine The European that he also ran as its editor-in-chief from 2009 until 2015. This magazine was dedicated to international and interdisciplinary debate and discourse. Today he is an op-ed contributor to The New York Times and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Görlach's essays and opinion pieces appeared in media outlets in the US and the UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria. In 2016 he founded a new media-initiative where he, with esteemed figures, such as Noam Chomsky, Francis Fukuyama, Niall Ferguson, Steven Pinker, and Vint Cerf, discusses the essence and the future of humanist and enlightenment values.

At Carnegie Council, Görlach has been working on Latin America and whether it is a part of the Western Hemisphere. Tackling the thesis of Samuel Huntington who claimed it was not, he interviewed intellectuals and public figures in Mexico, Central-, and South America to learn about their opinions. The interview series is available here. He further inquires on the future of democracy and the liberal world order. His central thesis is in this interview for the Carnegie Council series ""Ethics Matter.""

PHOTO CREDIT: David Elmes, Harvard University

Featured Work

APR 14, 2021 Podcast

Global Ethics Review: "Homo Empathicus" & the Pandemic, with Alexander Görlach

As the world still struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Senior Fellow Alexander Görlach discusses his book "Homo Empathicus," the role of empathy ...

MAR 28, 2019 Podcast

Global Ethics Weekly: Liberal Democracy, Empathy, & AI, with Alexander Görlach

In this wide-ranging talk, Carnegie Council Senior Fellow Alexander Görlach discusses the importance of empathy in liberal democracies, the shocking Uyghur detention in China, ...

Bogotá, Colombia, 2017. CREDIT: <a href="">Pedro Szekely</a> <a href="">(CC)</a>

SEP 10, 2018 Transcript

Identity in Colombia, with José Alejandro Cepeda

Colombia's civil war lasted from the 1960s to 2016. How has this terrible experience shaped the Colombian identity and how long will it take before the ...

AUG 23, 2018 Podcast

Global Ethics Weekly: Truth & Identity Politics, with Alexander Görlach

Carnegie Council Senior Fellow Alexander Görlach and host Alex Woodson speak about identity politics in the United States and Europe from their different perspectives. ...

Antigua, Guatemala. CREDIT: <a href="">josephhill/Pixabay (CC)</a>

JUN 26, 2018 Transcript

Guatemala's German Connection & Latin American Unity, with Henning Andrés Droege

What is Guatemala's German connection and how has it changed over time? What is Guatemala's role in geopolitics? Could Latin America form a similar organization ...

JUN 19, 2018 Transcript

LGBT Rights & International Affairs in Mexico, with Genaro Lozano

Professor Genaro Lozano of Ibero-American University in Mexico City is also a TV presenter, columnist, and LGBT activist. He discusses the long history and current "...

Museu do Ipiranga at the University of São Paulo. CREDIT: <a href=",_Brazil.jpg">Jhowcs (Public Domain/Wikimedia)</a>

JUN 12, 2018 Transcript

Brazilian Identity, Western Culture, & Institutions, with Eduardo Wolf

Eduardo Wolf is a professor of ancient philosophy and ethics, and a newspaper editor in São Paulo, Brazil. He discusses the similarities and differences ...

Homero Aridjis. CREDIT: <a href=""> Secretaría de Cultura Ciudad de México</a> <a href="">(CC)</a>

JUN 5, 2018 Transcript

"Samuel Huntington ignored Latin America as part of the West," says Homero Aridjis

For Homero Aridjis, a distinguished Mexican poet, author, activist, and diplomat, "the West" means countries that follow Greco-Latin culture--not Anglo-Saxon culture, he says pointedly. So ...

CREDIT: <ahref="">Stanley Zimney</a> (<a href="">CC</a>)

JAN 30, 2018 Article

A Liberal Democracy Doesn't Fall from the Sky

"The West appears to face its end," writes Alexander Görlach. "After 70 years of hegemony, fundamental opposition carries the day in countless places. This opposition ...

APR 13, 2017 Podcast

Global Ethics Forum Preview: Threats to Liberal Democracy with Alexander Görlach

Next time on Global Ethics Forum, Harvard’s Alexander Görlach discusses the rise of populism, fake news, and other threats to liberal democracy around ...