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Teresa M. Bejan writes about political theory and history, bringing past perspectives to bear on contemporary questions.


Teresa M. Bejan is Professor of Political Theory and Fellow of Oriel College at the University of Oxford. She arrived in Oxford from the University of Toronto in 2015. 


In 2021, Professor Bejan was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics, which celebrates early career researchers who have already achieved international recognition and have exceptional future promise. 


Other awards include the Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought’s Early Career Prize (2020), a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2018), the Balzan-Skinner Fellowship in Modern Intellectual History at Cambridge (2016), the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy (2015), and a Mellon Research Fellowship in the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities (2013-2014). In the 2020-2021 academic year she was on leave from Oxford as the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Constitutional and Political Theory at McGill University. 


Professor Bejan’s research brings historical perspectives to bear on questions in contemporary political theory. She has written extensively on themes of free speech, civility, tolerance and equality in historical contexts ranging from ancient Athens to 20th-century analytic political philosophy. 


Her first book, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (2017), examined contemporary calls for civility in light of 17th-century debates about religious toleration. It defended an ideal of ‘mere civility’ consistent with American free speech fundamentalism derived from Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. Her second book, tentatively entitled First Among Equals, explores the fascinating but forgotten history of equality before modern egalitarianism, due out in 2023 from Harvard University Press. Her next major research project will be the Clarendon edition of John Locke’s Letters on Toleration.


She has also published peer-reviewed articles in American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, History of Political Thought, and more. Her Special Forum on “The Historical Rawls” for Modern Intellectual History (co-edited with Sophie Smith and Annette Zimmermann) was published in 2021.


Alongside her academic work, Professor Bejan writes regularly for popular venues, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. In 2018, she gave a TED Talk ‘Is Civility a Sham?’ which has received over 1.7 million views.

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