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This week, we’re handing the microphone to Penn State student Joey Picarillo for an interview about the rise and fall of early democracies and what lessons we can learn from them today. Joey is a studying political science at Penn State World Campus and has already read many of the most influential books on democracy by Robert Dahl and others. He brought this book to our attention and did a wonderful job with the interview.
Historical accounts of democracy’s rise tend to focus on ancient Greece and pre-Renaissance Europe. The Decline and Rise of Democracy by David Stasavage draws from global evidence to show that the story is much richer—democratic practices were present in many places, at many other times, from the Americas before European conquest, to ancient Mesopotamia, to precolonial Africa. Stasavage makes the case that understanding how and where these democracies flourished—and when and why they declined—can provide crucial information not just about the history of governance, but also about the ways modern democracies work and where they could manifest in the future.
Stasavage is the Dean for the Social Sciences and the Julius Silver Professor in NYU’s Department of Politics and an Affiliated Professor in NYU’s School of Law.