Narratives of Democracy: A Call for Historical Studies

Tim B. Müller*, Jeppe Nevers

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Historians have long been aware of the power of narratives; but they have been hesitant to analyse the production of national narratives of democracy, in which their own profession played an important role. This issue and introduction aims to insert and study the role of narratives in the history of democracy. It builds on the growing literature in both the conceptual and political history of democracy, which has stressed the importance of the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century in the coming of modern democracy, albeit in non-linear and highly contested ways and often in contrast to the retrospective teleology at work in most older histories of democracy. Therefore, from the 19th century onwards, languages and narratives of democracy developed in many countries, but it happened at different times, at different speeds, and in different forms. This issue encourages and exemplifies systematic and comparative historical analysis of how narratives of democracy were created in that context: What national narratives of democracy did, in fact, exist in specific periods and contexts? Where have these narratives come from? How were nations ‘narrated’ as democratic, what purposes did different narratives serve, and how did they change over time?

19th century, 20th century, conceptual history, democracy, narratives, political history, transnational history
TidsskriftJournal of Modern European History
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)123-134
StatusUdgivet - 1. maj 2019

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