POSTPONED: Jedediah Purdy: “Thinking Democratically”

Jedediah Purdy

Please note that this event has been postponed to a future date to be determined. If you register through the link below, we will notify you when the event has been rescheduled.

If we took democracy seriously, what would that mean for thinking about questions such as ecology, constitutionalism, the rule of law, political economy, and social trust?

Please join us for a talk by Jedediah Purdy, the Raphael Lemkin Professor of Law at Duke Law School (formerly the William S. Beinecke Professor at Columbia) and the author of seven books on these themes, most recently Two Cheers for Politics: Why Democracy is Flawed, Frightening — and Our Best Hope (Basic Books 2022). He is working on a book on democratic trust.

David Singh Grewal, Professor of Law at Berkeley Law, will moderate.


Presented by the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative (BESI) and Social Science Matrix.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Chuck Kapelke at with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.

About the Speaker

Jedediah S. Purdy re-joined the Duke Law faculty in 2022 from Columbia Law School, where he was the William S. Beinecke Professor of Law and co-director of the Constitutional Democracy Initiative. He previously served on the Duke Law faculty from 2004 to 2019, most recently as the Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law.

A prolific scholar, Purdy teaches and writes about environmental, property, and constitutional law as well as legal and political theory. He is the author of two books forthcoming in 2022, Two Cheers for Politics: Why Democracy Is Scary, Flawed, and Our Best Hope (Basic) and a new Norton College edition of Thoreau’s writings, including Walden, “Civil Disobedience,” and essays on slavery.

Purdy’s most recent book, This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth, explores how the land has historically united and divided Americans, shows how environmental politics has always been closely connected with issues of distribution and justice, and describes humanity as an “infrastructure species. In his previous book, After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, he traced the long history of environmental law as a central feature of American political and cultural life. His other books include For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today, The Meaning of Property: Freedom, Community and the Legal Imagination, and A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom. His legal scholarship has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, Nomos, and Ecology Law Quarterly, among others. He has published essays on topics ranging from Elena Ferrante’s novels and socialism to natural disasters and the Green New Deal in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Die Zeit, and Democracy Journal.

Purdy clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City. A member of the New York State Bar, he is a contributing editor of The American Prospect and serves on the editorial board of Dissent. He was active in the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina and was voluntarily arrested for civil disobedience in 2013.

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