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Political Studies Speaker Series: When Cities Were Sovereign: Tolerantia a Civic Compromise in the Medieval City

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Mackintosh-Corry Hall
Room: D214
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Lecture Abstract: As a civic ideal, toleration asks us not simply to endure other beliefs and practices, but to consider them as sources of reasons that might eventually be decisive in public affairs. Highlighting this civic dimension of toleration is hardly novel, but it does remind us of a tension hidden from view in a popular statist narrative: of toleration as a civic bulwark against tyranny. Recognizing the demands of toleration unsettles this modernist posture: not simply a bulwark, toleration can transform and disrupt. Before and during the rise of the Westphalian state, shared norms of commerce in and among some medieval cities fostered a grudging recognition that the values and interests of others may be authoritative over us. Put crudely: together, the medieval practices of tolerantia and a lex mercatoria provide fertile grounds for understanding, and perhaps re-imagining, the distinctly civic compromises implicit in liberal-democratic toleration.

About the Speaker: Loren King is an associate professor of political science at Wilfred Laurier University. She is a principal at Mercator Analytics, and a founding member of the Great Lakes Trust, which awards seed grants supporting science, art, and advocacy for the Canadian Great Lakes. She received her doctorate in 2001 from M.I.T.

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