Thursday, 29 June 2017

A conference is taking place on “Democracy and Anti-Democracy in Early Modern England 1603–1689”

A historiographical consensus asserts that in the early modern period democracy was reputed to be the worst form of government. However, this scholarly trend leaves a few major questions unanswered: why was this so? How was criticism of popular government articulated? In what ways did different authors and genres depict the people and their power? Which political concerns and social prejudices informed this anti-democratic paradigm? What is the legacy of such a mindset? Were there any “democrats” avant la lettre back then? In order to address these points our project explores how democracy was conceived, viewed and criticised in political, theological and philosophical discourse between the start of King James VI and I’s reign (1603) and the Glorious Revolution (1688–9).
We claim that democracy represented a major challenge at a plurality of levels in English public life
throughout the ca. eighty years our project takes into account. Democracy per se might not have been a European reality (apart from some Swiss cantons), but it was constantly discussed, interpreted, elaborated in various arenas. It was certainly seen as a pervasive and persistent menace to all order (not just political and ecclesiastical, but also divine, natural and metaphysical). Besides these social and intellectual considerations, our analysis tackles issues of gender, perceptions of national character, historical interpretations of the past (classical and non-classical) associated with discourses about and of democracy and anti-democracy. Above all, we give unprecedented space to religion, so as to cast new light on its role in the long process of the modernisation of politics and its values. The time span selected enables us to chronicle the types of transformations that occurred within the paradigm(s) of democracy and anti-democracy through decisive historical phases which saw major events shape life and thought in England, in the British Isles and in Europe. We hope thus to clarify
sundry aspects of what it means to reflect on and theorise about democracy in historical perspective, so as to avoid some of the current anachronistic and often confused accounts of it put forward in contemporary political theory, journalism and public opinion.
For further information:

No comments:

Post a Comment