The judges were so impressed by the strength and depth of the candidates under consideration for the inaugural 2020 Early Career Prize of the Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought that they voted to make two awards, to Dr Teresa Bejan of the University of Oxford and to Dr Paul Sagar of King’s College London.
Teresa Bejan is Associate Professor of Political Theory at Oxford, where she is Tutorial Fellow in Politics at Oriel College. She did her BA in Chicago (2006), her MPhil at Cambridge (2007) and her PhD in the Department of Political Science at Yale. The dissertation was completed in 2013. It won the Leo Strauss Award from the American Political Science Association in 2015, and a version of it was published by Harvard as Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration in 2017. After Yale, she was Mellon Research Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto-Mississauga, before moving to Oxford in 2015.
Dr Bejan is chiefly a historian of political thought whose focus is on the seventeenth century in Britain and America, but she is also a political theorist involved in contemporary conversations about toleration and freedom of expression. She regularly speaks to a wider public, whether through her TED Talk, viewed over 1.5 million times, on whether civility is a sham, or her op-ed in the New York Times on ‘What Quakers can teach us about the politics of pronouns’. She is confident writing about the central figures in our field—Hobbes and Locke—as she is about less familiar thinkers—Roger Williams and Mary Astell—and her current projects, whether writing her book First Among Equals: The Practice and Theory of Early Modern Equality (under contract with Harvard University Press) or editing the papers from the recent conference on ‘the historical Rawls’, show her continuing to work fruitfully where political philosophy and intellectual history overlap.
Teresa Bejan is a lively and energising presence in the discipline, a fantastic advertisement for the serious study of political ideas, and a deserving joint winner of the inaugural Early Career Prize from the Association for Political Thought.