Comparative Democratic Theory

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Zachary Elkins, UT-Austin, Department of Government

      Professor Elkins’ research focuses on issues of democracy, institutional reform, research methods, and national identity, with an emphasis on cases in Latin America. He is currently completing a book manuscript, Designed by Diffusion: Constitutional Reform in Developing Democracies, which examines the design and diffusion of democratic institutions, and recently completed The Endurance of National Constitutions, which explores the factors that lead to the survival of national constitutions. With Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago), Professor Elkins co-directs both the Comparative Constitutions Project, a NSF-funded initiative to understand the causes and consequences of constitutional choices, and the website, which provides resources and analysis for constitutional drafters in new democracies. Elkins earned his B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Evolution of a ‘Latin American’ Constitutionalism

      How can we build unity within ethnically heterogeneous states? A great deal of literature has
debated, and debated inconclusively, the effects of consociational political institutions, such
as federalism and proportional electoral systems. We focus on a different realm of policy:
citizenship laws. The question is whether countries with more inclusive citizenship laws are
better able to garner the loyalty of immigrants and other indigenous minorities. We combine
data about citizenship laws in national constitutions with attitudinal data from cross-national
surveys, leveraging both cross-sectional and over-time variation. Our cross-sectional analysis
suggests that minority respondents—and especially more recent immigrant groups—in
countries with jus soli citizenship are more likely to express national pride than are minority
respondents in countries with more restrictive citizenship laws. A case study of the Baltic
States also suggests the impact of citizenship laws.

Lawrence Hamilton, University of Johannesburg, Department of Politics

      Lawrence Hamilton (BA[MA], MPhil, PhD Cantab) is Research Professor of Politics at the University of Johannesburg and Affiliated Lecturer in Political Theory at Cambridge University. He has held research and teaching positions at Clare Hall, Cambridge (now Life Member), the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Faculty of History, Cambridge, and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), Cambridge. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Needs (CUP 2003); has co-authored and co-edited two other books; written numerous articles on topics in political theory, South African politics and the humanities; and he is working on two further books, Freedom is Power and Are South Africans Free? He is the recipient of a number of awards for his research, including the Gladstone Memorial Prize, a President Award and Blue Skies Award from South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF); and he is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

Freedom is Power Through Representation: Suggestions from South Africa

      Recent South African history and politics challenges much received theoretical opinion regarding freedom and representation. By reference to this historical and political context, I argue here that freedom is power – in particular the power to determine needs, interests and policies – complicated by the fact that political representatives normally mediate the power in question. In short, I argue that freedom is power through political representation, when the existing forms of representation generate the means or power to enhance political judgement amongst representatives and represented. This focus on political judgement avoids a series of problems that arise from conceiving of freedom and representation based on the prevalent idea of autonomy of the will, while retaining a relation of control between individual and group freedom and representation, even if the relation is only an indirect one. Moreover, as I go on to argue, if freedom is power through representation in this sense, despite overcoming apartheid and attaining formal political freedom, South Africans still lack freedom to crippling degrees. This lack of freedom is most acute for the largest subsection of South African society – the unemployed and working class – but it is also true of South Africa’s economic and political elites, both ultimately due to the forms of political representation that obtain in South Africa. South Africans lack freedom as a consequence of living under one or more of the following three related conditions: where they lack the power to meet their needs and interests; where they have no or poor political representation; or where, even if they can meet their needs and interests and have access to existing political representatives, they enact their political agency and thus judgement regarding their needs, interests, sentiments, representatives and policies within a polity characterised by forms of political representation that do not provide basic indirect power over their representatives.

Nura Hossainzadeh, University of California, Berkeley, Political Science

      Nura Hossainzadeh is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and a graduate of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in Government. She has also studied Islamic theology and Islamic political thought in the Islamic seminaries of Qom, Iran. She is currently writing her dissertation on the political thought of Ruhollah Khomeini, tracing its origins to a diverse set of traditions–constitutionalist, jurisprudential, and neoplatonic. Her research interests include Islamic political thought, contemporary Iranian political thought, and methods of comparative political theory, and she has taught courses in Modern Arab Political Thought, American Political Thought, and American Government. She can be reached at

Representation in Khomeini’s Islamic Government

      This paper explores Ruhollah Khomeini’s concept of just government in his most widely-discussed work on political theory, Islamic Government. Though later published as a book, Islamic Government was originally a series of lectures delivered to seminary students in Najaf in 1970 that served as an inspiration for political resistance against Iran’s Shah and later became a blueprint for the system of government established in Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. While Khomeini’s theory has been classified as a theory of guardianship, this article points to elements of Islamic Government that have been overlooked or insufficiently-explored, elements which, while stopping short of explicitly calling for the need to represent the diverse array of citizens’ views in government, open up a space in which this democratic idea could stand, and at other times, more strongly, imply a necessary or desirable role for ordinary citizens in government. Alongside his strong call for jurisprudents to exercise guardianship over government, in certain moments in this text, Khomeini indicates that the guardian may threaten or be incapable of establishing, on his own, a just government. When the guardian is constrained or incapable, there is room not only for the views of experts in non-Islamic fields—as Khomeini states explicitly—but also the views of ordinary citizens.

Gary Jacobsohn, UT-Austin, Department of Government

      Gary Jacobsohn is the H. Malcolm Macdonald Professor of Constitutional and Comparative Law in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.

      Among his writings are: CONSTITUTIONAL IDENTITY (Harvard University Press, 2010); THE WHEEL OF LAW: INDIA’S SECULARISM IN COMPARATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT (Princeton University Press, 2003, Oxford University Press – India, 2003); APPLE OF GOLD: CONSTITUTIONALISM IN ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES (Princeton University Press, 1993); THE SUPREME COURT AND THE DECLINE OF CONSTITUTIONAL ASPIRATION (Rowman & Littlefield, 1986); and PRAGMATISM, STATESMANSHIP, AND THE SUPREME COURT (Cornell University Press, 1977). He has published numerous scholarly articles, most recently on American constitutional identity, values and principles in comparative constitutional law, and the phenomenon of constitutional revolution.

      Jacobsohn’s interests and work lie at the intersection of constitutional theory and comparative constitutionalism. He has held fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the Fulbright Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a past President of the New England Political Science Association, and has served as co-editor of the Rowman and Littlefield series on Studies in American Constitutionalism.

Religion, Republicanism, and Emergency Power

      I propose to consider the question of religion and politics in terms much less familiar to the discourse with which we in the US are most familiar. Yet significantly it is a discourse familiar to other national audiences – India in particular – and the piece is a comparative exercise that endeavors to glean from a critical moment in Indian constitutional history some important insights of possible relevance to the American political scene. By framing the threat to secular constitutionalism as an emergency problem, I seek to re-frame the way we think about the relationship between democracy and the spiritual and temporal domains. These reflections proceed by way of an extended American hypothetical – the ascendance of theocratic rule in an American state – and a notorious instance of ethno/religious conflict – the destruction of a mosque in an Indian state. The juxtaposition of these two events, one imaginary, the other quite real, focuses our attention on the vexed relationship between religion and republican governance.

Leigh Jenco, London School of Economics, Government

      Leigh Jenco (BA, Bard College; MA and PhD, University of Chicago) was born near Pittsburgh, PA, USA but has since lived for extended periods in Nanjing, Chicago, Taipei, and Singapore. She joined LSE in 2012 but previously was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Theory Project, Brown University, USA (2007-2008); and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (2008-2012). She situates her research and much of her teaching at the intersection of contemporary political theory and modern Chinese thought, emphasizing the theoretical and not simply historical value of Chinese discourses on politics. To that end, she has given talks in English and Mandarin across Asia and North America, and has published articles in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Journal of Asian Studies, and Philosophy East and West. She is also a steering committee member for a multi-conference project on De-Parochializing Political Theory: East Asian Perspectives on Politics, and has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the National University of Singapore.

      She is the winner of the 2003 Foundations of Political Theory Best Paper Award for “Thoreau’s Critique of Democracy” (Review of Politics, Summer 2003), and the 2008 Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy, awarded by the American Political Science Association.

Yan Fu and the Language of Liberty: Beyond Translation

      This paper examines the work of the late 19th and early 20th century translator and writer Yan Fu, who was among the very first writers to introduce ideas of freedom and democracy in China. I survey his understandings of these terms, drawing particular attention to the methodologies he offers for importing these ideas. Specifically, Yan does not seek to “translate” these ideas, or use them to gain more sensitively calibrated self-understanding. Rather, he thinks quite carefully about how to mobilize them from one site to another in an adequate, efficacious, meaningful way. For Yan, democracy and freedom were the key to enabling China to produce the specific forms of knowledge that could offer strength in an increasingly threatening world. Unfortunately, their dependence on other Western cultural practices and characteristics frustrates their transportability. Yan thus argues for, and exemplifies, a new kind of cross-cultural engagement that does not translate or describe the ideas of a foreign community in his own terms, so much as it enables the formation of new utterances responsive to and coherent within differently-centered communities of argument. What results, I argue, is form of engagement that is ironically more democratically oriented than many current methods put forward in political theory to acknowledge otherness.

Karuna Mantena, Yale University, Political Science

      Karuna Mantena is Associate Professor of Political Science. Her research interests include modern political thought, modern social theory, the theory and history of empire, and South Asian politics and history. Her first book, Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism (2010), analyzed the transformation of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology. Her current work focuses on political realism and the political thought of M.K. Gandhi.

      Since 2011, Karuna Mantena has been serving as co-director of the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought. Professor Mantena has taught courses on Indian politics, empire and political thought, postcolonial political thought, and History and Politics in the Directed Studies Program.

Authority, Action, Criticism: Gandhian Satyagraha and the Caste Question

      Gandhi’s views on caste and his criticism of hierarchy in the Hindu social order have been the source of considerable controversy. Some attribute to Gandhi the beginnings of mass political consciousness against the practice of untouchability, eventually leading to its ban in the Indian Constitution. For others, by contrast, Gandhianism represents a paternalist and regressive critique, one more aligned a defense of the status quo. In this paper, I consider how far the controversy stems from Gandhi’s ideology – that is, his substantive view of caste – or from his understanding of the logic of nonviolent reform. I will suggest that the ambiguity of reception results in part from the structure of criticism embedded in Gandhian forms of nonviolent action and criticism.

Andrew F. March, Yale University, Political Science

      Andrew F. March (DPhil, Oxford) is Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches classes on Islamic law, Islamic political thought and political theory. He is the author of Islam and Liberal Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2009) and numerous articles on Islamic law and political thought. He is presently working on a book on Islamic conceptions of political sovereignty, which focuses on the dual commitment in much Islamic thought to divine as well as popular sovereignty.

Theorizing Theo-Popular Sovereignty

      This paper seeks to contribute to a theoretical understanding of evolving conceptions of sovereignty in Islamic political thought. As is well known, the hallmark of much Islamic political theology—from the assassination of the Caliph ‘Ali by his own partisans on the grounds that “There is no judgment but God’s” to the 20th century Islamic revivalist creed that “Sovereignty [hakimiyya] belongs to God”—is a strict insistence on divine sovereignty. However, in addition to the inherent obscurities of the notion of divine sovereignty, elements of popular sovereignty have also explicitly characterized Islamic thought from the beginning of Islam. The relationship between the commitment to divine and popular sovereignty is varied and complex. In some senses, divine and popular sovereignty co-exist but remain distinct in essence. Popular sovereignty is authorized concretely and discretely by God’s law, or steps in where God’s sovereignty appears silent and inert. On other conceptions, divine and popular sovereignty are fused and are made manifest in the world through each other. This paper explores some of the key sites where the question of divine and/or popular sovereignty emerges, particularly in modern Islamic political theory, including: (1) the origins of governance, (2) the source of legitimate political authority, (3) the limits of legitimate political authority and the right to rebellion, (4) the scope and representation of God’s law (shari‘a) in political life, (5) the boundary between law as the enactment of shari‘a and law as the sphere of temporal democratic judgment, and (6) the right to represent divine sovereignty through the use of violence against enemies and traitors (apostates). I will explore the thesis that while sovereignty is often portrayed in dualist terms—divine and popular sovereignty coexist but remain distinct—there are also elements in Islamic thinking about sovereignty that reveal (“miaphysite”) strains whereby sovereignty is “all divine and all human” simultaneously. When discussing questions like the right to make judgments about God’s will and to enact violent punishments based on them, there is a frequent reluctance to allow any single human mediating agency to monopolize God’s sovereignty. On certain more radical treatments of the universal popular vicegerency of God, God’s sovereignty appears to circulate and even “pulsate” within the people, and even individual Muslims.

Anne Norton, University of Pennsylvania, Political Science

      Anne Norton is Edmund and Louise Kahn Term Professor of Political Science and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her most recent book is “On the Muslim Question: Politics, Philosophy and the Western Street” (Princeton 2013). Her present work concerns radical democracy and the problem of property.

The Muslim Multitudes: Farabi and Radical Democracy

      Islam, the late Jacques Derrida wrote, is the “the other of democracy.” He echoed improbable allies across political and philosophic spectra who took democracy as a Greek invention, dependent for its maintenance on Judaeo-Christian political theologies. Derrida followed a political theology indebted to Carl Schmitt, and through Schmitt, to a model of the sovereign as divinity embodied in a single man. Schmitt, however, recognized the presence of an alternative Christian political theology. I contend that this political theology overcomes the false divide between Islam and Christianity. More importantly, I contend that philosophy from within Muslim politics and theology offers constructions that open possibilities for radical democracy. Theoretically, I will concentrate particularly on Abu Nasr al Farabi. I contend that Farabi argues for a model of democracy that is egalitarian, cosmopolitan, and collective. Politically, I intend to answer liberal and secular critics of democracy in both the United States and the Middle East. The paper acknowledges both the promise and the hazards that open when the people rule.

      In connection with this reading, I will offer a critique of comparative political thought as a comparative enterprise, and argue for another conception of which political theories are one’s own.

      This political theology gives us sovereign rights in a form that reveals that individual rights are related to the commons not as opposites but (in Aristotle’s phrase) “as concave is to convex.”

Enrique Peruzzotti, Di Tella University, Political Science

      Enrique Peruzzotti is professor in the Political Science Department of Di Tella University and researcher of CONICET, Argentina. Currently he is a residential fellow at the Center for Hemispheric Policy of the University of Miami. His work on accountability politics, democratic innovation, and civil society has appeared in Global Governance; Human Rights Quarterly, Citizenship Studies, Journal of Democracy, Journal of Third World Studies, Journal of Latin American Studies, and Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory. His most recent book is the coedited volume Critical Theory and Democracy: Civil Society, Dictatorship, and Constitutionalism in Andrew Arato’s Democratic Theory, New York and London, Routledge, 2013.

Representative Democracy as Mediated Politics

      In contrast to populist and delegative models –which rely on a more direct form of democracy—the representative model clearly sides with indirect government. Indirectness in politics demands the creation of mediating mechanisms of different nature, which in institutional terms it translates into the promotion and institutionalization of a variety of different circuits of mediated politics. What do I mean by mediated politics? The presence of an institutional framework that encourages

a)The formation of a variety of associational formats that give birth and express different constituencies; and
b)The development of formal and informal arenas that serve as points of encounter between those constituencies and different elements of the political system.

      The classical liberal model of representative democracy is organized around a model that has as its central mediations the public sphere and electoral institutions. Yet, those circuits do not by themselves exhaust the notion of mediated politics: the evolution and metamorphosis of representative government has subsequently added new mediating structures such as the circuit of functional representation. In recent years, such circuit that has been enlarged by the growing importance that a new brand of public interest NGOs has acquired in domestic politics and by the creation of participatory institutions such as deliberative council, participatory budgeting, and other arenas of institutionalized participation. Those last processes should be seeing as attempts to expand and recreate the field of mediated politics by adding new sort of mediating mechanisms to give voice to groups that had been largely marginalized by the pre-existing representational circuits.

      The various processes of participatory innovation that have been taking place in several Latin American countries express a more ambitious process of reinvention and expansion of democratic representation. Against the limitations exhibited by the conventional notion of representative democracy to address ingrained social and political inequalities and the authoritarian risks that populism always involves, the model of mediated politics provides an auspicious road to bring Latin American closer to realizing the promise of the democratic project that the region has embraced, to hopefully close a history marked by political authoritarianism and social inequality.

Peter Rutland, Wesleyan University, Government

      Peter Rutland is a Professor of Government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he has taught since 1989. He previously taught at the University of Texas, Austin. He has a BA from Oxford and a Ph.D from the University of York. He writes on Russian political economy and nationalism. He is editor in chief of Nationalities Papers and associate editor of Russian Review. Recent publications are posted online at:

Russian national identity in search of itself

      The failure of democracy in Russia is partly a result of the failure to develop a coherent account of Russian national identity. Since the Soviet collapse, the Russian political elite has struggled to come up with a plausible framework to explain who are the Russian people. Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to construct a ‘civic’ identity failed, not least because the necessary democratic and civil society institutions were not in place. Vladimir Putin hesitates to embrace a directly ‘ethnic’ identity, not least because 20% of the citizens are not ethnic Russians. Russian identity is strongly statist in orientation, and their conception of the state includes a prominent role for Russia as a great power on the international stage.

Nicolas Shumway, Rice University, Dean of Humanities

      Shumway received his PhD from UCLA, taught two years at Indiana University Northwest, and 14 at Yale University, where he was promoted to full professor in 1992. In 1993, he became the Tomás Rivera Regents Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served for three years as the department chair of Spanish and Portuguese and 11 as the Director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. A popular speaker and lecturer, he has published widely on Latin American literature and cultural history, including two books: The Invention of Argentina and Historia personal de una pasión argentina. In 2010, he became Dean of Humanities at Rice University, a position he still holds.

Race, Politics and Policy in Argentina, 1880 to 1920.

      Notions of racial classification emerge early in Latin American thought, although in the Spanish-speaking countries the preferred term was casta during most of the colonial period. Race becomes the preferred term in the 19th century, although writers often blend what we would now call ethnicity or phenotype with national origin. Heavily influenced by European racialists like Gustave Le Bon, Herbert Spencer, and Francis Galton, Argentine intellectuals in the late 1800s begin using race as a biological category and a basis for formulating policies regarding immigration, education, and assimilation. This paper will look at some of these developments and the effect they had on the country’s progress towards inclusive democracy.

Tan Sor-Hoon, National University of Singapore, Philosophy

      Tan Sor-Hoon holds degrees from Oxford University, National University of Singapore, and University of Hawai`i at Manoa. Her doctoral research was a comparative study of the moral and political philosophy of early Confucianism and John Dewey. She has been teaching at NUS since 2000.

Why Equality and Which Inequalities? Modern Confucian struggles with Democracy

      How important is equality to democracy? For those who agree with Benjamin Barber that democracy is “an aristocracy of everyone,” it is the central value, even more important than liberty or autonomy. Many of the failures of undemocratic societies are due to inequalities that result in many having less or no decision power in matters that affect their well-being. But does democracy always mean or require equality? No society can be completely equal in the sense of eliminating all differences between “everything and everybody.” Nor does such a society appeal, given that differences can express intellectual and cultural richness, diversity of experience that meets varied desires, demands, and expectations. What then is the role of equality in democratic societies and does it preclude certain cultures or traditions from being part of democracy? Confucianism, for example, have often been seen as inherently hierarchical in its social ideal, and has recently been touted as offering a “meritocratic” alternative to the duet of democracy versus authoritarianism. I wish to explore Confucian views about inequalities, whether they undermine any attempts to foster Confucian democracy that Western contemporary political philosophy could recognize as truly democratic, and whether the apparent difference in emphasis between equality and inequality raises question for the taken-for-granted value of equality.

David Switzer, Texas A&M University, Political Science

      David Switzer is a PhD student in the Political Science Department at Texas A&M University. He graduated in 2012 from the University of Maryland, where he earned his B.A. in History, with a focus on Britain and Western Europe, and Government and Politics, with a focus on Political Theory. His current research interests include history of political thought, with a recent interest in the politics of the Hebrew bible, as well as environmental political theory.

Equality, Sovereignty, and Criticism: Democratic Principles in the Hebrew Bible

      To discuss a democratic politics, or really a politics of any kind, within the Hebrew bible is problematic. Given the presence of an active God as the unquestioned sovereign of the ancient Jewish polity, understanding true political authority to rest anywhere but God is likely not possible. Even when something of a politics can be found, they seem to be in forms highly unfriendly to the notion of democracy. The goal of this paper is not, however, to examine whether there exists a distinctly democratic form of politics within the Old Testament, but rather to examine whether the politics that can be found in the Old Testament contain principles that we would consider compatible with democratic politics. By examining elements of the Hebrew Bible that may at face value seem wholly inimical to democracy, it may be possible to find elements that may be considered indispensable for any democratic politics. Exploring the specific nature of God’s sovereignty, the rule of kings, and the presence of priests and prophets, and finding familiar principles such as equality, a measure of popular sovereignty, and the possibility of critique, it may be possible to understand the politics of the Hebrew bible as not democratic themselves, but at least compatible with a democratic politics.

Diego von Vacano, Texas A&M University, Political Science

      Diego von Vacano is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. He spent the academic year 2009-2010 as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He was a Member of the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, NJ, during 2008-2009. He received his doctorate in Politics from Princeton University and his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University. He studied in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University. He works mainly in Comparative Political Theory (modern Latin American and European political thought) and also in immigration ethics, especially in relation to race and ethnicity. The authors he focuses on are Machiavelli, Las Casas, Nietzsche, Bolivar, and Vasconcelos. He is the author of The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity and Latin American/Hispanic Political Thought (Oxford University Press, 2011) and The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory (Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

Democratic Caesarism in Latin American Thought: the Work of Vallenilla Lanz

      Is democracy compatible with a robust executive? And is liberty possible under such conditions? The writings of a largely under-examined social theorist from Venezuela, Laureano Vallenilla Lanz, explore these questions in the context of late 19th and early 20th century consolidating nationalism. A keen student of Machiavelli and Simon Bolivar, Vallenilla Lanz was also influenced by French social theory and Positivism. As a critic of Arthur de Gobineau, he posited that racial mixing was a fundamental social reality of Venezuelan (and Latin American) experience. Often dismissed as merely an apologist of the dictator Gomez, Lanz provides a defense of democratic Caesarism that uses both European and Spanish-American sources. The paper also explores the relation of democratic Caesarism to freedom. His ideas help to see some parallels with Carl Schmitt, as well as to explain the frequent appearance of regimes such as those of the late Hugo Chavez.

Ajume Wingo, University of Colorado, Boulder, Philosophy

       AJUME H. WINGO (PhD, Wisconsin, 1997) was born in Nso in the North West Province of Cameroon. He attended Cameroon College of Arts, Science and Technology (CCAST) Bambili where he studied History, Economics and Geography. He also attended the University of Yaounde, Cameroon where he studied law at the Faculty of Law and Economics. He obtained his BA from the University of California Berkeley and an MA (1995) and PhD (1997) from the University of Wisconsin Madison. He was a fellow at the Institute on Race and Social Division, Boston University; a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard; a Visiting Assistant Professor at Clark University and Emerson College; and an Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is currently an Associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard.

      Professor Wingo has published widely on liberal democratic philosophy and politics, particularly on institutional building in places where there are non-liberal democratic or illegitimate political institutions. He has also published on Civic Education, African Politics, African Art, and Aesthetics. His book Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States is published by Cambridge University Press in the Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Public Policy series. He is currently working on a book entitled The Citizen, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Kruse. The book is about how Africans can move beyond where their history has put them and begin to make their own future and secure their own political freedom.

A Free Person as a Maker of Surprises

      Western political thought has long recognized that there is a material basis for freedom. As Rawls argued in A Theory of Justice, for instance, the institutions that assure citizens of rights and liberties are sustainable only when given a sufficiently high level of wealth. Indeed, political liberalization is often expected to follow as a society grows wealthier. Some of the advocates for freedom and democracy have gone as far as measuring poverty and establishing the material threshold (calculated in dollar amount) below which no one can be said to be free.

      Similarly, some political philosophers have stressed the cultural and sociological tendencies that may be relevant to sustaining political freedom, arguing that attaining and maintaining a free society requires citizens to sift through traditions, habits, emotions, false consciousness and desires to uncover the authentic pristine and unencumbered self. While each of these views contributes to our understanding of the conditions for free citizens, they perpetuate an over-simplified conception of human freedom.

      In this paper, I argue that unlike the orderly activities that are dictated by necessities of life and its preservation, the activities that are designated as free are too complex and unpredictable to be modeled by any simple utilitarian calculus. A free action is an unpredictable action of an individual person. As such a free person is a maker of surprises. A political system that takes seriously the unpredictable nature of free persons can be a daunting place in which free citizens must learn to accommodate each other’s moves and responses. To live and thrive in such a system requires a degree of courage, the cardinal virtue of freedom. The self-assertion, the rituals and the open theaters embedded in the traditions of indigenous Africa spirituality provide an illustration of methods that help develop such courage by exemplifying the central value of living together expressed in a proverb that “a person is a person because of other persons” or what in the Zulu language is referred to as Ubuntu. I argue that the activities designated as free must be express in the world that is shared with others. Conscience and thinking whatever their political status occur in the exclusive dark and dank inner sanctorum of each individual person and are irrelevantfrom the political freedom point of view. This paper is about freedom, the soul of politics. It is neither about the conditions leading up to freedom nor the outcome of a free society both of which are often mistaken by contemporary philosophers for freedom itself.


Will Kymlicka, Queen’s University, Philosophy

      Will Kymlicka is the Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University, where he has taught since 1998. His research interests focus on issues of democracy and diversity, and in particular on models of citizenship and social justice within multicultural societies. He has published eight books and over 200 articles, which have been translated into 32 languages, and has received several awards, most recently the 2009 Premier’s Discovery Award in the Social Sciences. His books include Contemporary Political Philosophy (1990; second edition 2002), Multicultural Citizenship (1995), which was awarded the Macpherson Prize by the Canadian Political Science Association, and the Bunche Award by the American Political Science Association, Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity (2007), which was awarded the North American Society for Social Philosophy’s 2007 Book Award, and most recently Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (2011), co-authored with Sue Donaldson.

Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University, Government

      Dr. Mitchell is currently professor of political theory. He has been Chairman of the Government Department and also Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at SFS-Q. During the 2008-10 academic years, Dr. Mitchell took Leave from Georgetown, and was the Acting Chancellor of The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani (see His research interest lies in the relationship between political thought and theology in the West. He has published articles in The Review of Politics, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Religion, APSR, and Political Theory. In 1993 his book, Not by Reason Alone: Religion, History, and Identity in Early Modern Political Thought, was published by the University of Chicago Press. A second book, The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and American Future, was published in 1995, also by the University of Chicago Press. Dr. Mitchell most recent book, Plato’s Fable: On the Mortal Condition in Shadowy Times, was published by Princeton University Press in 2006. He is currently working on two book manuscripts, Tocqueville in Arabia, and Reinhold Niebuhr and the Politics of Hope.

Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University, Political Science

      Nadia Urbinati (Ph.D., European University Institute, Florence, 1989) is a political theorist who specializes in modern and contemporary political thought and the democratic and anti-democratic traditions. She co-chaired the Columbia University Faculty Seminar on Political and Social Thought and founded and chaired the Workshop on Politics, Religion and Human Rights. She is co-editor with Andrew Arato of the journal Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation Reset Dialogues on Civilization-Istanbul Seminars.

      She is the author of Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, and of Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government. She has edited Carlo Rosselli, Liberal Socialism and Piero Gobetti, On Liberal Revolution. She co-edited with Monique Canto-Sperber Le socialism libéral: Une anthologie; Europe-États-Unis; with Alex Zakaras, John Stuart Mill’s Political Thought: A Bicentennial Reassessment, and, with Stefano Recchia, A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini’s Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations. She is co-editing with Steven Lukes Condorcet’s Political Writing. Among her books in Italian are: Le civili libertá: Positivismo e liberalismo nell’Italia unita, prefaced by Norberto Bobbio; Individualismo democratico; and Ai confini della democrazia: opportunità e rischi dell’universalismo democratico.

Melissa Williams, University of Toronto, Political Science

      Melissa Williams is Professor of Political Science, and founding Director of the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto. Her general research focus is on contemporary democratic theory, a focus that frequently addresses core concepts in political philosophy through the lens of group-structured inequality, social and political marginalization, and cultural and religious diversity. Among her current projects are two books: Equality, for the Routledge Series on Concepts in Political Philosophy; and Reconstructing Impartiality, which begins from feminist and difference-based critiques of liberal impartiality and seeks to develop an alternative account of ?situated? or ?contextual? impartiality within law-governed relationships. Professor Williams is a former winner of the Leo Strauss Award for the best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy, she has served APSA as a member of the Leo Strauss Award Committee as well as on the Foundations of Political Thought Section?s First Book Award Committee, and is currently editor of NOMOS, the yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. She received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.

Closing Speakers:

Joshua Cohen, Stanford University, Political Science

      Joshua Cohen is Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and professor of political science, philosophy, and law. Cohen is also program leader for the Program on Global Justice at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he is a principal investigator in the program on Liberation Technology. A political theorist trained in philosophy, Cohen has written on issues of democratic theory, particularly deliberative democracy and the implications for personal liberty, freedom of expression, and campaign finance. He has also written on global justice, including the foundations of human rights, distributive fairness, and supranational democratic governance. Among his recent publications are Philosophy, Politics, Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2009); Rousseau: A Free Community of Equals (Oxford University Press); The Arc of the Moral Universe and Other Essays (Harvard University Press, 2011); and “Establishment, Exclusion, and Democracy’s Public Reason.” He is also editor of Boston Review, a bi-monthly magazine of political, cultural, and literary ideas, and a member of the Apple University faculty.

Alan Ryan, Princeton University, Department of Politics

       Alan Ryan was educated at Christ’s Hospital, Balliol College, Oxford, and University College, London. Elected a fellow of New College in 1969, he returned in 1996 to take up the Wardenship. He was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1986.

      Ryan is a recognized authority on the work of John Stuart Mill, having contributed directly to the ‘Reversionary’ school, which led to a re-examination of Mill’s work from the 1970s. His academic work also takes in broader themes in political theory, including the philosophy of social science, the nature of property, and liberalism of the 19th and 20th centuries.

      Ryan has held positions at the Universities of Oxford, Essex, Keele, Princeton University, as well as the University of Virginia School of Law. He was also a Visiting Professor of Political Science at The University of Texas at Austin, Australian National University, The New School and many others. He is the author, most recently, of On Politics and also The Making of Modern Liberalism.

Panel Chairs:

Judith Baer, Texas A&M University, Political Science

      JUDITH A. BAER is Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1974, she taught at the State University of New York at Albany and the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She joined the A&M faculty in 1988. She has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and a Fulbright Scholar in Istanbul, Turkey. A specialist in public law and feminist jurisprudence, Professor Baer is the author of several books and articles. Our Lives before the Law: Constructing a Feminist Jurisprudence (Princeton University Press) won the APSA’s Victoria Schuck Award for the best book on women and politics published in 1999. Her new book, Ironic Freedom: Personal Choice, Public Policy, and the Paradox of Reform, will be published in November 2013.

Guillaume Bogiaris, Texas A&M University, Political Science

       Guillaume is currently in his first year oh Ph.D. sutides in Early Modern Political Thought at Texas A&M University. He previously completed a BA at Concordia University (Mtl, CA) in Liberal Arts & Philosophy, as well as a Master’s in Political Science (Theory) atMcGill University (Mtl, CA) and a master’s level certificate in Post-Secondary Teaching at the university of Montreal (Mtl, CA). His current research interests are Neoplatonism and and Medieval thought before and into the Renaissance and the relationship between claims of supernatural insight and legislative power in Machiavelli’s thought. He is currently working on a paper about Immigration and Identity and their relationship to the polis in Plato’s Apology and Crito.

Megan K. Dyer, Texas A&M University, Political Science

       Megan K. Dyer is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University whose fields of study are Political Theory and American Politics. Her dissertation project focuses on reading Rousseau as critic of three prominent strains of early modern republican thought in hopes of elucidating his own surprisingly underexamined contribution to the republican tradition.

Russell Arben Fox, Friends University, Political Science

      Russell Arben Fox is Professor of Political Science and director of the Political Science program at Friends University in Wichita, KS. He received his PhD from Catholic University of America in 2001, after which he taught at Mississippi State University, Arkansas State University, and Western Illinois University, before arriving at Friends in 2006. He is the author of studies of Confucian political thought which have appeared in The Review of Politics and Philosophy East & West; his co-edited volume of essays, The State of Nature in Comparative Political Thought: Western and Non-Western Approaches, will be published by Lexington Press in 2013.

Bradley Goodine, Texas A&M University, Political Science

       Bradley Goodine completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Texas A&M University in 2013. He received his B.A. from Baylor University. His dissertation entitled “Religion as a Special Category in Law and Policy: Religious Exemptions and First Freedoms” examines the political status of religion in contemporary liberal democracies.


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