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Andreea Deciu Ritivoi
Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 7/31/2011

The Stranger Ethos in American Political Discourse

Major intellectual and political schools of thought that have shaped American thinking and politics since the Cold War were instigated by thinkers who were not American. This might seem paradoxical but it is not accidental. This book tells the story of four foreigners, Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, Alexander Solzhenistyn and Edward Said, who took American society in new directions by relying on ways of arguing and reasoning that stood both inside and outside America. They appeared as Americanized enough to be listened to, yet they used their foreignness to inspire ideas that defied American commonplaces. Their success was based on the use of a strategic blend of detachment and involvement, acting as a unique form of political ethos, which I term the stranger ethos. The stranger ethos had long-term consequences beyond their personal ascent to authority, as it came to be used by some American intellectuals and encouraged an internationalist orientation in American political arguments.