Talking To Strangers: Anxieties Of Citizenship Since Brown V. Board Of Education

Paperback | November 1, 2006

byDanielle Allen

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"Don't talk to strangers" is the advice long given to children by parents of all classes and races. Today it has blossomed into a fundamental precept of civic education, reflecting interracial distrust, personal and political alienation, and a profound suspicion of others. In this powerful and eloquent essay, Danielle Allen, a 2002 MacArthur Fellow, takes this maxim back to Little Rock, rooting out the seeds of distrust to replace them with "a citizenship of political friendship."

Returning to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 and to the famous photograph of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, being cursed by fellow "citizen" Hazel Bryan, Allen argues that we have yet to complete the transition to political friendship that this moment offered. By combining brief readings of philosophers and political theorists with personal reflections on race politics in Chicago, Allen proposes strikingly practical techniques of citizenship. These tools of political friendship, Allen contends, can help us become more trustworthy to others and overcome the fossilized distrust among us.

Sacrifice is the key concept that bridges citizenship and trust, according to Allen. She uncovers the ordinary, daily sacrifices citizens make to keep democracy working—and offers methods for recognizing and reciprocating those sacrifices. Trenchant, incisive, and ultimately hopeful, Talking to Strangers is nothing less than a manifesto for a revitalized democratic citizenry.

“Allen understands that democracy originates in the subjective dimension of everyday life, and she focuses on what she calls our ‘habit of citizenship’—the ways we often unconsciously regard and interact with fellow citizens. . . . [Her] focus on race is entirely appropriate.”—Nick Bromell, Boston Review

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"Don't talk to strangers" is the advice long given to children by parents of all classes and races. Today it has blossomed into a fundamental precept of civic education, reflecting interracial distrust, personal and political alienation, and a profound suspicion of others. In this powerful and eloquent essay, Danielle Allen, a 2002 Mac...

Danielle S. Allen is dean of the Division of the Humanities as well as professor in the Department of Classical Languages and Literatures, Department of Political Science, and Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:286 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.7 inPublished:November 1, 2006Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226014673

ISBN - 13:9780226014678

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Table of Contents

Key to Brief Citations
Prologue
Part One: Loss
1: Little Rock, a New Beginning
2: Old Myths and New Epiphanies
3: Sacrifice, a Democratic Fact
4: Sacrifice and Citizenship
Part Two: Why We Have Bad Habits
5: Imperfect Democracy
6: Imperfect People
7: Imperfect Pearls/Imperfect Ideals
Part Three: New Democratic Vistas
8: Beyond Invisible Citizens
9: Brotherhood, Love, and Political Friendship
10: Rhetoric, a Good Thing
Epilogue: Powerful Citizens
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index