‘Democracy and the Legacy of Revolutionary Violence’ – Michael Ignatieff to deliver 6th Annual Burke Lecture

Posted on: 03 October 2022

The Annual Edmund Burke Lecture will return to Trinity after a two-year absence. Hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute, the public lecture celebrates the university's strong connection with the 18th-century philosopher, historian and politician Edmund Burke.

This year Canadian writer, historian and former politician Michael Ignatieff will deliver a lecture entitled ‘Democracy and the Legacy of Revolutionary Violence’ on Thursday, October 6th, 6.30pm-8pm in the Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building.

Prof Ignatieff will engage with Burke’s writings to consider the legacy and implications of revolutionary violence for democracy. Speaking in advance of the lecture he said:

“All democracies born of revolution—France, America, and Ireland, for example—have to find ways to reckon with their revolutionary origins, and with the violence that attended their birth. Edmund Burke’s reflections on the revolutions of 1688 in Britain, the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789 can help us understand how contemporary democracies should handle the often combustible heritage of revolutionary origins.”

The event is free and open to the public. Register for the event at this link.

More about the speaker:

Michael Ignatieff is a Canadian writer, historian, former politician, and a renowned international commentator on democracy, civil liberty, and human rights. He served as President and Rector of Central European University (CEU) between 2016 and 2021, the period which saw CEU's expulsion from Budapest and its re-establishment in Vienna, and he is now Rector Emeritus of the CEU and a professor in the history department. He has been a leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and was the Edward R. Murrow Chair of Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

A leading public intellectual, he is the author of several books, including The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Blood and Belonging (1993), The Warrior’s Honour (1997), Isaiah Berlin: A Life (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017). His latest book, On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times (2021), discusses how writers, artists, and thinkers have found consolation in the face of tragedy.   

More about the annual the Annual Edmund Burke Lectures:

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1748. As a student he founded what would later become the College Historical Society, the oldest student society in the world. Burke entered Parliament in 1765 and quickly became a champion for political emancipation. After 1789, he directed his attention to the French Revolution and its immediate ramifications for political stability in England.

One of Burke’s central and life-long concerns was what moral codes should underpin the social order, constrain the use of power and inform our behaviour as responsible citizens. The Edmund Burke lectures provide a prominent forum for contributing in his spirit to the wider discourse about what society we want to live in and what traditions, perspectives and values we need to draw on in the shaping of our future.

Previous lectures in the series were delivered by former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon; distinguished historian Margaret MacMillanan; award winning writer and journalist, Robert Fisk; Professor Roy Foster, Chair of Irish History, University of Oxford and Baroness Onora O’Neill, former chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The lecture series is supported the Fallon family in honour of Trinity graduate Padraic Fallon (1946-2012).



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