Political representation is a central mechanism of modern democracies. It assures that the people can delegate power and are still the sovereign. Representation, in this case, is to be ensured by elections, which have become a prerequisite of democratic regimes. In the last ten years, however, political theorists interested in the concept of political representation have stressed that it can occur in different ways within and outside of political institutions. Representation appears to be fluid and sometimes even an unstable process; it can be performed by elected and by non-elected actors; and it involves both discursive and symbolic mechanisms. This constructivist perspective opens the floor for concepts that include the symbolic dimension of political representation, and it enables us to take its aesthetic dimension and performative effects into consideration. In doing so, political theory is now more compatible to history and cultural studies. The course offers an interdisciplinary view on the topic and considers political representation as a symbolic activity. It pays particular attention to symbolic practices, aesthetics, performativity, and the role of the body.
Claude Lefort (1988): Democracy and Political Theory. Polity Press, New York.
Hanna F. Pitkin (1972): The Concept of Representation. Berkeley University Press, Berkeley.