Annelien de Dijn is professor of political history at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the history of political thought in Europe and the United States from 1700 to the present, with occasional forays into antiquity and the Renaissance. Her most recent book Freedom: An Unruly History (Harvard University Press, 2020) traces the different meanings of freedom from Herodotus to the present. It was awarded the 2021 PROSE Prize in Philosophy by the American Association of Publishers.
A central insight informing de Dijn’s research is that our political world can be understood as being, to a large extent, consciously and deliberately created. In other words, de Dijn’s research starts from the assumption that the political systems, norms, and practices with which we live today were not created by chance. Nor can they be seen as solely the product of power politics. Instead, they have been created to a surprising extent according to specific normative ideas and values.
At the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES), de Dijn will work on her book-in-progress, entitled Egalitarian Revolutions: The Struggle for Economic Equality in the Atlantic World, 1776-1815. This work offers a radical revision of existing accounts of the Atlantic Revolutions. Her research seeks to show that American, French, and other revolutionaries were convinced their experiment with democratic government could only succeed in societies where extremes of affluence or poverty were avoided.
This information is accurate for the time period that the visiting scholar is affiliated with CES.
Professor of Political History, Utrecht University
Visiting Scholar 2021-2022, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
History of political thought
Areas of Expertise
de Dijn, Annelien. (2020). Freedom: An Unruly History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.