Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Making representations: standpoint, context, legitimacy

Colloquium with Michael Saward (Warwick)

Michael Saward is professor of Politics and International Studies at The University of Warwick. Through his innovative work, he has upended the debates on political representation and democratic legitimacy. Rather than understanding representation as a unidirectional relationship between constituency and representative, Saward presents representation as a performative act through which both the representative and the represented are created. Democratic legitimacy is not dependent on meeting a particular external standard, but is rather perceived -temporarily and provisionally- by an audience. A theorist can come to an understanding, however incomplete, of how representative claims are made and assessed by becoming part of the institutional and cultural context wherein it takes place. These and related insights by Saward, have far reaching ramifications for research into the workings of politics.

Format & audience

After a presentation by professor Saward, attendees are welcome to engage and pose questions.

Books by Michael Saward (selection)
Democratic design (2021)
Making Representations (2020)
The Representative Claim (2010)

The colloquium is organised by the Amsterdam Centre for Political Thought, together with the B&P Academy (Department of Political Science & Public Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).