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BISR Political and Social Theory Seminar: Tocqueville, Beaumont and the Birth Pang of Modern Democracy

Starts 26 April 2017 - 18:00
Finishes 26 April 2017 - 19:30
Venue Birkbeck, University of London. Paul Hirst Seminar Room (102), 10 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HJ
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Free entry; booking required
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BISR Political and Social Theory Seminar: Tocqueville, Beaumont and the Birth Pang of Modern Democracy

Speaker: Dr Andreas Hess, University College, Dublin

Chair: Dr Jason Edwards, Birkbeck, University of London

Alexis de Tocqueville is usually regarded as a sphinx-like figure who not only welcomed the arrival of modern democracy but also hinted at some of the more problematic aspects of the struggle for equality and liberty. It is often overlooked that Tocqueville was largely supported in this by his travel companion, co-writer and life-long friend, Gustave de Beaumont.

Hess will discuss three instances - slavery in the US, Ireland and British neglect, and the French politics that ushered in the 1848 revolution - in which Beaumont points to the contradictions, ambivalences and problematic aspects of the struggle for democracy and thus emerges as a kind of 'darker shadow' of Tocqueville and as the commentator who tried to fill in for the silences and blind spots of his famous companion.

Free event open to all - If you wish to attend, please email Jason Edwards.

Andreas Hess teaches sociology at University College Dublin and is currently a visitor at Birkbeck. His latest publications are: The Political Theory of Judith N. Shklar. Exile from Exile (2014) and (with Bryan Fanning) Sociology in Ireland. A Short History (2016). Together with Neil McLaughlin he is the editor of the Routledge series Public Intellectuals and the Sociology of Knowledge.

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