Welcome 2017 Hannah Arendt Summer Scholars

arendt-hannah-the-origins-of-totalitarianism1For the last few weeks, my assistants and I have been coordinating paperwork for all the new Arendt scholars who will join me at UC-Davis this summer to study key works of the political theorist, Hannah Arendt. I have now posted all the short bios and photos of the new group of scholars. I invite members of the group to meet one another on the 2017 Summer Scholars page.

As many of you know, Arendt’s writing has been in the news increasingly over the last months since the presidential election. One of the books we will explore this summer is The Origins of Totalitarianism and I recently contributed a commentary about the importance of this book in our times on The Conversation, a site for scholarly discussion of contemporary topics. I was excited that the article was circulated across the web and even got picked up by Bill Moyers.com, which gave it even wider coverage.

We will be exploring ways that Arendt’s work relates not only to an understanding of history, but also to current events. Origins doesn’t offer a “blueprint” for analyzing either history or the present. But it does provide important conceptual insight into why thinking about human rights and personal and political responsibility remains critically important, especially whenever democracy is threatened by attempts to subvert the rule of law.

To illustrate with just one example, 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, which President Roosevelt signed creating the mechanism for Japanese Internment in concentration camps in the U.S. A few years ago, NEH Summer Scholar Mary Ong Dean created a video about the Japanese internment, based on her study of Origins, which is available on this web site. The non-profit organization, Densho, offers an online course for educators, providing “the historical background, primary source materials, and instructional strategies you need to teach the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans in the secondary school classroom.”

I look forward to welcoming the new group of scholars to the seminar in June, 2017!


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