Det norske institutt i Athen ønsker velkommen til forelesning ved
Dr. P. Stuart Robinson, Universitetet i Tromsø
onsdag 2. november 2016 kl. 19 i instituttets lokaler, Tsami Karatasou 5, Koukaki.
Peter Stuart Robinson er førsteamanuensis i statsvitenskap ved Institutt for sosiologi, statsvitenskap og samfunnsplanlegging ved Universitetet i Tromsø.
Tittelen på foredraget er:
The Democratic Mirage: The Athenian Model and Contemporary Practice
Sammendrag av foredraget (på engelsk):
The Modern appropriation of the language and ideology of democracy depended heavily on the well-documented and conceptualised ‘democratic experiments’ of ancient times. Hence, from the Italian Renaissance onwards, Classical Greece became ever more deeply ingrained in Western social and political thought as the metaphorical ‘cradle of democracy.’
Such a narrative projects an image (or paradigm) of democracy onto the past, which is, at least partly, a misleading reflection of the present. Together, the curatorial efforts of monuments and museums, and the scholarly interventions of political theory and ‘science,’ propagate the popular view of classical Athens as the model of direct democracy from which modern forms of representative government are ultimately derived.
The ancient Athenians are thus romanticised and a formalistic tendency of democratic praxis revealed, to make procedure the measure and arbiter of substance. Forms of collective decision-making are thus riven from the broader context, which might illuminate their meaning, becoming empty vessels to be imaginatively – or carelessly – filled with egalitarian or liberal content.
Such a conception of the past contributes to a dangerous complacency regarding the present. Contemporary political practice bathes in the reflected glory of an idealised historical prototype, and the connection between decision-making forms and `democratic values,’ more broadly conceived, is taken for granted rather than interrogated. There is a case to be made for an approach to politics in general and democracy in particular – past and present – which embraces more explicit constitutional thinking, not just in the sense of the juridical identity and governing principles of the polity, but also that of the substantive expression of a broader social identity and its associated – and always contestable – values.
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