How can social science research support and advance democracy and democratic citizenship? In this project, I turn to Herodotus, perhaps the world’s first social scientist, to reconstruct how his approach to social inquiry contributed to democratic projects in the ancient world and might also offer an alternative to today’s paradigms. Herodotus’s Histories, I argue, model a form of inquiry dedicated to improving the people’s capacity to rule and be ruled in turn and promise a social science that empowers free and democratic regimes to develop self-supporting regimes of truth and forms of inquiry. The example of Herodotus can thus provide us with an approach to research where inquiry and political education mutually support one another as well as sustain the broader political community in which they take place.
This fall I will focus on working out these ideas through an essay on Herodotus and democracy for the forthcoming volume Democratic Moments (part of the Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought series published by Bloomsbury), edited by Xavier Marquez; an article on "Herodotean Materialism" (a draft of which I will present at the University of Virginia's Political Theory Colloquium) that takes up new materialism and shows the strange usefulness of Herodotus to this contemporary discourse; an article on freedom in Herodotus, which I will present at the Northeastern Political Science Association annual conference in Boston; and an essay on the political economy of inhabitation developed by Herodotus, which I plan to present at the Center for Hellenic Studies in December.