Wed, 6 April 2016
Joshua Mitchell is a professor of political theory in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, he left the U.S. capital to teach the great books of Western political thought to university students in Qatar and Iraq. The students there, he found, differed in dramatic ways from those in the U.S. They were beset with anguish over the value of individualism, and they felt their allegiance to traditional roles in family and society strained in ways that made them question the promises of modernity. Professor Mitchell realized that the social forces at play in the contemporary Middle East were much the same as those Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 19th-century America.
As part of 2015 Tikvah Advanced Institute “Tradition and Freedom,” Professor Mitchell shares how those in the Arab Gulf seek to navigate the challenges that come with more isolation within their communities and increased connectedness with the rest of the world. Paradoxically, it is the great analyst of democracy in America that sheds the most light on the social and psychological experience of the contemporary Middle East.
Joshua Mitchell speaks with Tikvah Fund Director of Academic Programs Jonathan Silver, and answers questions from the audience. This event took place on June 16, 2015 at the Tikvah Center in New York City. More of Professor Mitchell’s reflections on these subjects can be found in his 2013 book Tocqueville in Arabia: Dilemmas in a Democratic Age.