Mittwoch, 10. Mai 2017, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Inventing Democracy

Richard Bourke (Queen Mary University of London)

9. Gerald Stourzh-Vorlesung zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte und der Demokratie

Hörsaal 41 Hauptgebäude, 1.Stock, Stiege 8
Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien



Since democracy is a creation of human culture, it must in some sense have been “invented”. This does not mean that the process of invention was deliberate. Instead it was a fortuitous product of human struggle. However, unlike many other political values and practices, democracy was not invented just once, but twice. This lecture is concerned with the relationship between these two moments, between the original formation of ancient democracy and its subsequent renaissance in modern history. Both events are shrouded in obscurity. First of all there is no record marking its first establishment in Athens. As a result, historians disagree about when it came into being. Then, secondly, the circumstances of its rebirth in the Enlightenment are no less complex, spawning controversy about when modern democracy began. One fundamental reason for the uncertainty is that the relationship between the ancient regime form and its modern re-incarnation has rarely been systematically explored. My argument is that a clearer understanding of what modern democracy took from its ancient predecessor can clarify how the modern version was brought into existence, and how it came in due course to be transformed.

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Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät


Birgitta Bader-Zaar
Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien