Pierre Rosanvallon is one of today’s most important and diverse political thinkers. In addition to the position of Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), he has held the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History of Politics at the Collège de France since 2001. He also plays a leading role in the political debate, for instance through the think-tank La République des Idées, established in 2002, to which the website La Vie des Idées (www.laviedesidees.fr) was added in 2007.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was selected within the theme ‘democratie in opspraak’ (‘compromised democracy’). This French philosopher’s thoughts about a state that is structured to take care of its people without taking away their freedom, constituted a new movement.
Richard Sennett was born in Chicago in 1943. He grew up in the Cabrini Green Housing project, one of the first multi-ethnic social housing projects in the United States. As a six-year-old, he started studying the piano and the cello and worked with Frank Miller of the Chicago Symphony and Claus Adam of the Julliard Quartet. Sennett was one of the last students of the conductor Pierre Monteux. In 1963, a hand injury meant a sudden end of his musical career. He then turned to academics.
Michael Walzer (New York, 1935) is one of the most prominent political thinkers of our time. He has published innumerable books and articles about the duties of politics, nationality and ethnicity, and economic justice in the welfare state.
Born in New England in 1946, Donna Dickenson obtained her BA in Political Science from Wellesley College and her MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics. After leaving the United States in protest against the Vietnam War, she settled in England, where her son and daughter were born. In addition to her academic posts, she has worked in a court reform project in New York City, a futurology institute, and the main New York newsroom of the Associated Press.
Tzvetan Todorov was born, as he puts it, at the worst time of the 20th century in communist Bulgaria: “the year that the pact between Germany and the Soviet Union was made, that (…) Stalin and Hitler shook each other’s hand.”. In 1963 he flees communism and settles in Paris, but totalitarian society will continue to be one of his major political themes.
Avishai Margalit lives in Jeruzalem and works there as a professor of Philosophy at Hebrew University. In recent years he has mainly been busy with political philosophy. In his thinking, he, in a surprising way, uses the notion of decency as a measure of civilization/culture.
The Palestinian Edward Said spent his childhood in Jeruzalem and Cairo. He received his scientific training in America and taught as a professor at Columbia University in New York. A central theme in Said’s thinking is the influence of colonialism on western thought regarding the Orient.