Forthcoming in Political Theory

I am thrilled to announce the acceptance of my article, “Herodotean Realism,” by Political Theory. This article first emerged from a course I taught at Carleton College called “Justice Among Nations,” which worked through Thucydides and Herodotus as primers for thinking about international relations today (see the syllabus under "Teaching"). I owe my students in that course thanks, as well as students in subsequent courses at Deep Springs. I also presented an earlier version of this essay at the Association for Political Theory conference in Columbia, South Carolina as part of a special panel on ancient political thought and contemporary themes organized by Jill Frank. Many thanks to her and to Arlene Saxonhouse and Stephen Salkever, my discussants for that panel.

Here is the abstract of the article. I would be happy to send you a copy if you email me.

With the renaissance of political realism has come an insistence that the study of politics be historically located. While many political realists trace their conception of historical inquiry to Thucydides, this article shows how Herodotus can offer a more realist approach to political phenomena. Herodotus crafts a self-conscious form of historical inquiry that foregrounds the actual activity of the historian as intersubjective, reflective, and particular. Herodotus thus models a historical investigation that shows its own limits while demanding the evaluation of its readers, offering a way to address criticisms of political realism’s singular and unacknowledged historical narratives. Moreover, Herodotus’s Histories exemplify a disposition toward open inquiry among others — what Herodotus calls wonder — that can invigorate responsive curiosity as part of the project of historical understanding essential to both political realism and contemporary democracies.

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