Book Launch: Professor Angelica Bernal - "Beyond Origins"
October 9, 2017
Join the Political Science Department for a book launch event for Angelica Bernal, assistant professor of political science, for her new book: Beyond Origins: Rethinking Founding in a Time of Constitutional Democracy. Light refreshments will be served.
Per Oxford Scholarship: "From classical stories of divine lawgivers to contemporary ones of Founding Fathers and constitutional beginnings, foundings have long been synonymous with singular, extraordinary moments of political origin and creation. In constitutional democracies, this common view is particularly attractive, with original founding events, actors, and ideals invoked time and again in everyday politics as well as in times of crisis to remake the state and unify citizens. Beyond Origins challenges this view of foundings, explaining how it is ultimately dangerous, misguided, and unsustainable. Engaging with cases of founding through a series of “travels” across political traditions and historical time, this book evaluates the uses and abuses of this view to expose in its links among foundings, origins, and authority a troubling political foundationalism. It argues that by ascribing to foundings a universally binding, unifying, and transcendent authority, the common view works to obscure the fraught political struggles involved in actual foundings and refoundings. In the wake of this challenge, the book develops an alternate approach. Centered on a political view of foundings, this framework recasts foundations as far from authoritatively settled or grounded and redefines foundings as contentious, uncertain, and incomplete. It looks to actors whose complicated relations to pure origins both reveal and capitalize on the underauthorized and contingent nature of foundations to enact foundational change. By examining such actors—from Haitian revolutionaries to Latin American presidents and social movements—the book prods a reconsideration of foundings on different terms: as a contestatory, ongoing dimension of political life."