Dilemmas of Popular Sovereignty
Half Day, 1:30 PM -5:30 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Truman Room
The principle of popular sovereignty posits that, to be legitimate, authority must rest with the people – the very people who are subject to that authority. Premised on a certain vision of humanity, statehood, citizenship and belonging, popular sovereignty has become the paradigmatic way of legitimizing political power in the modern world, and has informed a great deal of historical and institutional analysis.
This short course will explore contemporary problems of democratic governance related to questions of popular legitimation by illuminating their historical roots as well as theoretical and policy ramifications. Deploying the complex concept of popular sovereignty and situating its elements in concrete cases, the course aims to demonstrate analytical and interpretive approaches that are applicable across a wide range of present and past instances. Questions to be addressed include: What does it mean for a people to be sovereign, and who can belong to a sovereign people? How and when does the people appear in political life, through what institutions or modes of representation? What is the social and cultural basis of popular sovereignty, and how has it evolved? Is there currently a crisis of popular sovereignty in the United States? In other parts of the world?
This short course derives from an ongoing research initiative sponsored by the Social Sciences Research Council that has brought together scholars from a variety of fields and a wide range of institutions to study the theory and practice of popular sovereignty. In this spirt, the short course will draw on diverse modes of investigation and compare different historical and geo-political perspectives. The purpose will be to gain a deeper understanding of both current policy challenges and inherent dilemmas of liberal democracy.
**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 at the APSA 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.**