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Democracy 101: Democracy in Classical Athens: An Organizers' Guide. LIB 100 / 201 APPROVED!

Democracy 101

Democracy 101

Date and Time

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


  • Kirkhof Center » RM 2266


We're taught that the ancient Greeks "invented" democracy, but how did they organize and perform it?  Conceptualized as isonomia ("equality before the law") and the power (kratos) of the sovereign people (demos), the political culture and value system of Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE not only gave ordinary (male) citizens a vote but also empowered them as participants and made them the political equals of their wealthy and elite neighbors. Animated less by political and constitutional theory than by a robust set of ideological premises and institutional practices, Athenians confronted a range of strikingly contemporary concerns about, for example, the influence of money in politics, the place of morality in international relations, and the power of mass media. They were disappointed by politicians and suspicious of experts. In the face of grave threats and self-inflicted reverses, their approach proved to be remarkably resilient and capable of reinvention.

We study the past not only to imagine where we come from about also to find alternatives to the way things are. Athenian democracy holds the potential to provoke and even to instruct us because it differs fundamentally from our own. Our session will investigate some original--often surprising, occasionally repellant--ways that Athenian democrats exerted, promoted, and protected themselves against opponents both external and internal, some imagined and some real.



Melissa Baker-Boosamra:





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