Houston Harper Lecture
April 6, 2014: 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Houston Harper Lecture with Elisabeth Clemens, AM'85, PhD'90: Civic Gifts: Benevolence and the Making of the American Nation-State
5160 Hidalgo Street
Cost: $20/person for general admission
$10/person for recent graduates (College alumni of the past ten years and graduate alumni of the past five years)
Two complimentary registrations for members of the Alumni Leadership, Chicago, Harper, and Phoenix Societies
Includes program and refreshments
2:00 PM-2:45 PM: Registration and Reception
2:45 PM-4:00 PM: Presentation and Discussion
Elisabeth S. Clemens (Speaker)
Elisabeth S. Clemens, AM'85, PhD'90, is chair of the Department of Sociology and the William Rainey Harper professor of sociology and the College. Her research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change. Clemens's first book, The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (University of Chicago Press, 1997), received several best book awards. She is also coeditor of Private Action and the Public Good (Yale UP, 1998), Remaking Modernity: Politics, History, and Sociology (Duke UP, 2005), Politics and Partnerships: The Role of Voluntary Associations in America's Political Past and Present (University of Chicago Press, 2010), and the journal Studies in American Political Development. Clemens is now completing Civic Nation, which traces the tense but powerful entanglements of benevolence and liberalism in the development of the American nation-state.
As both nation and state, the United States is a puzzle. How did a sense of shared nationhood develop despite the linguistic, religious, and ethnic differences among its settlers? How did a global power emerge from an often antistatist political culture? An important piece of the answer to both these questions can be found in the unexpected political uses of benevolence and in the power of gifts to create ties among strangers and mobilize communities. From the Civil War through the Second World War--and numerous natural disasters, economic crises, and municipal projects in between--civic benevolence was an important method for eliciting both the commitments and capacities needed to meet challenges. Clemens will explore how the legacy of this model for national action is a system of governance in which voluntarism and philanthropy are entwined with public policy and democratic deliberation.