Skip to main content

Two-day conference on “Rethinking and Unthinking Popular Sovereignty”

The Center of Global Culture and Communication (An interdisciplinary initiative of Northwestern University’s School of Communication)

The Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities

Jointly present a conference on

“Rethinking and Unthinking Popular Sovereignty”


23-24 May 2024, 10:30am to 5pm

Kresge Centennial Hall

Room 2-350

Lunch and light refreshments will be served on both days.

This conference will explore the contested history and ideology of democracy from the perspective of the doctrine of popular sovereignty—the proposition that people are the ultimate source of political authority and legitimacy in any polity. How and when and in what legible form did the doctrine of popular sovereignty originate and emerge?  How did it evolve and become fully embedded in the democratic project?  How is this doctrine, especially its two rhetorically powerful formulations– “we, the people” and “in the name of people”–, invoked and deployed by two competing versions of the democratic project, the liberal and the populist?  How does this doctrine function, both conceptually and rhetorically, in the perennial struggle between two opposing and problematic tendencies within the democratic project, namely, the cosmopolitan/liberal inclusionary tendency and the nationalist/populist exclusionary tendency?


Department of Communication Studies

Department of Philosophy

Doctoral Program in Rhetoric, Media, and Publics