Narratives of Civic Duty: How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia

Aram Hur, Kim Koo Chair in Korean Studies at Tufts University

August 24, 2023  |  12:15-1:30 PM
Virtual - Zoom

On Thursday, August 24, the Asia Policy Program hosted Aram Hur, Kim Koo Chair in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University, for a virtual event to discuss her latest award-winning book, Narratives of Civic Duty: How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia. The talk was moderated by Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, director of the Asia Policy Program and Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The Asia Policy Program is a joint effort of the Clements Center for National Security and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law

Narratives of Civic Duty: How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia is an impressive, theoretically rich, and empirically strong contribution to the field of comparative politics. The book seeks to answer the question: Why do some citizens feel it is their responsibility to vote, to pay taxes, or to do military service while others do not? Studying this question in East Asia, in particular a comparison between South Korea and Taiwan, Hur makes the argument that civic duty is grounded in a sense of obligation to the community, implying civic duty is rooted in nationalism. In making this argument, Hur asserts that nationalism is not inherently opposed to democracy. Instead, the impact of nationalism on democracy depends on the historical connection between a nation and its democratic governance. If national narratives depict this connection as a mutual commitment, nationalism can enhance democracies by inspiring a sense of civic responsibility among the populace. The empirical analyses that support this argument rely on an impressively broad range of methods and approaches, including analyses of personal narratives of young citizens, large N-survey analyses, and original survey experiments.  Hur’s Narratives of Civic Duty makes two important contributions to comparative politics literature. First, Hur draws attention to the importance of civic duty for democratic governance – in this way giving a central place to an attitude that we still know little about. Second, examining non-Western countries where democracy has historically been weak, she shows that nationalism can have favorable effects on democracy – challenging conventional wisdom.


Professor Hur is the author of Narratives of Civic Duty: How National Stories Shape Democracy in Asia (Cornell University Press, 2022), which won the 2023 Robert A. Dahl Award for best book on democracy by an untenured scholar from the American Political Science Association. Her research appears in leading disciplinary journals such as the British Journal of Political ScienceComparative Politics, and Comparative Political Studies and is widely cited in domestic and international media. She was selected as the 2021 Sherman Emerging Scholar by The Korea Society, a 2018-19 CSIS US-Korea NextGen Scholar, and is the recipient of the 2023 Gold Chalk Award for Teaching from the University of Missouri. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. with honors from Stanford University.

For more information about this event, contact Mara Sherry at