Scholars celebrate democracy
Panelists discuss Tocqueville’s work in America
By Katie Dawson
Alexis de Tocqueville scholars from around the world gathered in the Indiana Memorial Union Walnut Room on Friday to celebrate the publication of a bilingual, French and English, edition of “Democracy in America.”
“The best work on American democracy was written by a Frenchman,” said Aurelian Craiutu, IU associate professor of political science and director of the Tocqueville program.
Started in 2009, Craiutu’s new program promotes the teachings and ideas of Tocqueville’s interpretation of American democracy. The program offers numerous courses and lectures devoted to Tocqueville’s studies and theories of America.
“This conference is one of the most important events the Tocqueville project will have this year,” Craiutu said.
Many of the panelists from the conference helped compile information for the new edition.
“I realized when I started looking at the Tocqueville papers that I could give him another opinion by showing information that was not shared before,” said Eduardo Nolla of Universidad San Pablo in Madrid, Spain, who helped gather information for the new edition.
The information that Nolla assembled in large part was collected from Yale University, where most of Tocqueville’s documents are located.
“In the book we made sure to include his travel notes, his letter that he wrote to his friends and family, the drafts of his book and his manuscripts,” Nolla said.
Tocqueville, a French political thinker, came to America in the early 1800s to study and document how and why democracy works. The result is his two-volume book “Democracy in America.”
Mark Yellin, an employee of the book’s publisher, the Liberty Fund, came to the conference not only because he has worked with many of the panelists but because he said he was impressed that IU was willing to put on a conference dealing with Tocqueville.
“It is so complex to put something like this together,” Yellin said. “It’s a beautiful volume that took 10 years to create.”