Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Aug 1, 2009 - Political Science - 286 pages
"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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Prologue
Loss
1
Part II Why we have Bad Habits
51
Part III New Democratic Vistas
99
Acknowledgments
187
Notes
189
Index
223
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

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.

Bibliographic information