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Democracy in History

Democracy in History will complement and enrich the work of the other groups of the Democracy Institute by creating a broad historical perspective and opening up the research field toward the humanities.  It seeks to focus both on the emergence of democracy as a sociocultural practice and as an ideational framework. Thus, it will engage both with the long-term roots of democratic patterns in pre-modern societies (from political philosophies of classical antiquity and political theology of medieval universities to the medieval communes and early modern noble republicanism) and their modern and contemporary manifestations and legacies (such as debates on the relationship of democracy to constitutionalism, liberalism, or republicanism).

By analyzing various patterns of democratization, our group is aware that this is not a “one-directional” teleological process. Therefore, it will pay special attention to the study of earlier and recent crises of “de-democratization.” Thus, we seek to put contemporary debates into a broad historical framework, but also look at previous instances of de-democratization and processes of democratic revival while having in mind our current problems. Thus, the historical study of the rise of autocratic/totalitarian regimes in past times is relevant to current political discussions and it allows for a critical examination of the dominant civilizationist discourse. In connection to studying patterns and processes of democratization and de-democratization, this research group will also explore the history of “thick” and “thin” ideologies, such as liberalism, socialism, anti-liberalism, nationalism, populism, fascism and their impact on social and political changes.  

We will explore questions such as: How to map comparatively national, meso-regional, and global patterns of democratization and de-democratization if we want to go beyond the Huntingtonian “waves,” and consider the backlash of the last decade? Can we use populism as a trans-historical category of internal challenges to democratic regimes going back in time, or is it a recent phenomenon? What is the role of history (politics of remembrance, populist reinterpretation of medieval and recent past, erecting and reinterpreting monuments, rewriting of schoolbooks) in this process?  How and when did civil society function as an agent of democratization or of democratic backsliding? How was the creation of autonomous communities instrumentalized by monarchical and state power for various purposes? In order to address these issues, we also plan to involve colleagues working at the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA) on the history of transition to team up with Democracy Institute researchers and run common projects.

Website: DI Democracy in History

Contact: democracyinhistory@ceu.edu

Researchers

Balázs Trencsényi

Lead Researcher / CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Zsolt Cziganyik Research Affiliate

Constantin Iordachi 

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Gábor Klaniczay

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Laszlo Kontler

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

András Kovács

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Anna Menyhért Research Affiliate

Zoltan Miklosi

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor

Vladimir Petrovic Research Affiliate

István Perczel

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Istvan Rev

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor / Director of Open Society Archive

Michael Schudson Research Affiliate
Marsha Siefert CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Associate Professor

Orsolya Anna Sudár

Junior Research Fellow

Katalin Szende

CEU Research Affiliate / CEU Professor

Renáta Uitz Co-director / CEU Professor

 

News

Job Opening: Postdoctoral Fellow, Democracy in History Working Group

We invite applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow position within our working group focusing on the historical dimensions of the contestation of democracy and the role of historical knowledge in and for open society.

Job Opening: Postdoctoral Fellow

Our Democracy in History Workgroup invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow position in the newly launched multi-disciplinary research project “Democracy in East Central European Utopianism.”

Transdisciplinary Trauma Studies: Trauma Through Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

CEU Summer University Course
11-16 July 2022

Call for Applications: Fully Funded PhD Fellowship in the Gerda Henkel Research Program “Democracy in East Central European Utopianism”

Central European University invites applications for a fully funded PhD Fellowship starting in the 2022/2023 academic year in the Gerda Henkel research program "Democracy in East Central European Utopianism" hosted by the CEU Democracy Institute (Budapest).

Audiovisuals

History as Democracy

RevDem assistant editor Bence Bari interviews László Kontler, Research Affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute’s Democracy in History workgroup and lead researcher of the project “History as Democracy.”

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins About Liberalism

Kasia Krzyzanowska interviews Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, a faculty member in History Department at Dartmouth College, on the future of liberalism, especially post-Cold War liberalism as envisioned by American intellectuals.