Tocqueville: America and Algeria


Modern Social Theory - Lecture 3

Lecturer: Prof Gurminder K Bhambra

Oct. 19, 2021


Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clérel, Comte de Tocqueville was born in 1805 into the French nobility and a family estate in Normandy. He died in 1859. His wider family was part of the conservative reaction to the changes brought about by the French Revolution in 1789, but Tocqueville, himself, looked forward. He participated in public office, initially as a magistrate and subsequently as a deputy of the Constituent Assembly, rising briefly to Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1849. He travelled to the United States between May 1831and February 1832 with his friend Gustave Beaumont, ostensibly to study penal institutions, but instead published a two-volume study of Democracy in America. Throughout his life, he commented on contemporary politics and public affairs, including France’s occupation of Algeria. The politics of the period were frequently in turmoil and this instability was a motivating concern of Tocqueville in his search for the conditions of a more stable order.

Reading

  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. and John Holmwood 2021. ‘Tocqueville: From America to Algeria’ in Colonialism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity
  • Chandra, Rajshree 2013. ‘Tocqueville for Our Times,’ Economic and Political Weekly 48 (10): 32-35
  • Pitts, Jennifer (ed) 2001. Writing on Empire and Slavery: Alexis de Tocqueville. Edited and translated by Jennifer Pitts. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press
  • Richter, Melvin 1963. ‘Tocqueville on Algeria,’ The Review of Politics 25 (3): 362–398
  • Stokes, Curtis 1990. ‘Tocqueville and the Problem of Racial Inequality,’ The Journal of Negro History 75 (1/2): 1-15
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2001 [1841]. ‘Essay on Algeria’; [1843]. ‘The Emancipation of Slaves’; [1847]. ‘First Report on Algeria’ in Jennifer Pitts (ed) Writing on Empire and Slavery: Alexis de Tocqueville. Edited and translated by Jennifer Pitts. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2004 [1835]. Democracy in America. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Editor Olivier Zunz. New York: Penguin Random House
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2008 [1856]. The Ancien Regime and the Revolution. Translated and Edited by Gerald Bevan. London: Penguin

Resources

Bhambra, Gurminder K. 2021. ‘The Haitian Revolution Connected Sociologies Curriculum Project video lecture.

Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clérel, Comte de Tocqueville was born in 1805 into the French nobility and a family estate in Normandy. He died in 1859. His wider family was part of the conservative reaction to the changes brought about by the French Revolution in 1789, but Tocqueville, himself, looked forward.

He participated in public office, initially as a magistrate and subsequently as a deputy of the Constituent Assembly, rising briefly to Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1849. He travelled to the United States between May 1831and February 1832 with his friend Gustave Beaumont, ostensibly to study penal institutions, but instead published a two-volume study of Democracy in America.

Throughout his life, he commented on contemporary politics and public affairs, including France’s occupation of Algeria. The politics of the period were frequently in turmoil and this instability was a motivating concern of Tocqueville in his search for the conditions of a more stable order.

Reading

  • Bhambra, Gurminder K. and John Holmwood 2021. ‘Tocqueville: From America to Algeria’ in Colonialism and Modern Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity
  • Chandra, Rajshree 2013. ‘Tocqueville for Our Times,’ Economic and Political Weekly 48 (10): 32-35
  • Pitts, Jennifer (ed) 2001. Writing on Empire and Slavery: Alexis de Tocqueville. Edited and translated by Jennifer Pitts. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press
  • Richter, Melvin 1963. ‘Tocqueville on Algeria,’ The Review of Politics 25 (3): 362–398
  • Stokes, Curtis 1990. ‘Tocqueville and the Problem of Racial Inequality,’ The Journal of Negro History 75 (1/2): 1-15
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2001 [1841]. ‘Essay on Algeria’; [1843]. ‘The Emancipation of Slaves’; [1847]. ‘First Report on Algeria’ in Jennifer Pitts (ed) Writing on Empire and Slavery: Alexis de Tocqueville. Edited and translated by Jennifer Pitts. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2004 [1835]. Democracy in America. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Editor Olivier Zunz. New York: Penguin Random House
  • Tocqueville, Alexis de 2008 [1856]. The Ancien Regime and the Revolution. Translated and Edited by Gerald Bevan. London: Penguin

Resources

Bhambra, Gurminder K. 2021. ‘The Haitian Revolution Connected Sociologies Curriculum Project video lecture.