Virtual Event: Danielle Allen


Difference Without Domination:
Pursuing Justice in Diverse Democracies

in conversation with ROHINI SOMANATHAN


September 18, 2020
12:00 PM ET


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This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics welcomes DANIELLE ALLEN—James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and the Safra Center's director—for a discussion of her co-edited book, Difference Without Domination: Pursuing Justice in Diverse Democracies. She will be joined in conversation by her fellow editor ROHINI SOMANATHAN, Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics.

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About Difference without Domination

Around the globe, democracy appears broken. With political and socioeconomic inequality on the rise, we are faced with the urgent question of how to better distribute power, opportunity, and wealth in diverse modern societies. This volume confronts the dilemma head-on, exploring new ways to combat current social hierarchies of domination.

Using examples from the United States, India, Germany, and Cameroon, the contributors offer paradigm-changing approaches to the concepts of justice, identity, and social groups while also taking a fresh look at the idea that the demographic make-up of institutions should mirror the make-up of a populace as a whole. After laying out the conceptual framework, the volume turns to a number of provocative topics, among them the pernicious tenacity of implicit bias, the logical contradictions inherent to the idea of universal human dignity, and the paradoxes and problems surrounding affirmative action. A stimulating blend of empirical and interpretive analyses, Difference without Domination urges us to reconsider the idea of representation and to challenge what it means to measure equality and inequality.

Praise for Difference without Domination

Difference without Domination is an ambitious volume that aims to reconfigure the discourses on democracy, egalitarianism, and justice in an increasingly diverse world. This brilliant volume has the potential to transform profoundly how we comprehend democracy and difference, and it promises visions of egalitarian futures devoid of domination.” —Neil Roberts, Williams College

Democracy without Domination is a unique contribution to an emerging literature on how ideas about democracy affect, and are affected by, concepts and practices pertaining to equality, egalitarianism, and domination. The contributors range from the disciplines of history, philosophy, economics, to political science, psychology, and brain sciences, forging encounters and dialogue across boundaries to assess the aforementioned concepts and their capacity to interrogate domination as lived experience. Allen and Somanathan have performed a service in encouraging and framing what are often—in academic and in daily life—difficult conversations.” —Michael G. Hanchard, University of Pennsylvania

Danielle Allen
Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen

Danielle Allen is James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. She is a political philosopher and public policy expert, who focuses on democracy innovation, public health and health equity, justice reform, education, and political economy. She also directs the Safra Center’s Democratic Knowledge Project, a K-16 civic education provider. Her books include Our Declaration: a reading of the Declaration of Independence in defense of equality, Cuz: an American Tragedy, and Talking to Strangers: anxieties of citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education. She was for many years a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, and writes for the Atlantic.

Rohini Somanathan
Rohini Somanathan

Rohini Somanathan

Rohini Somanathan is Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics. She received her Ph.D in 1996 from Boston University and held faculty positions at Emory University, the University of Michigan and the Indian Statistical Institute before joining the Delhi School of Economics in 2005. Her research focuses on how social institutions interact with public policies to shape patterns of economic and social inequality.


Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Ethics in Your World

The “Ethics in Your World” series, presented with Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, features leading thinkers taking on tough problems that matter to us all. Learn more about the Safra Center at

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