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

Last Updated: September 7, 2018