Iliada Charalambous: The Political Potential and Limitation of Democratic Assembly


Thesis Advisor: Amit S. Rai

June 2023


This thesis aims to explore the political potential and limitations of assembly. As we live in times of both political turmoil and an imminent climate degradation, citizen’s assemblies in their multiple forms appear as a medium through which “the people” can demand a different future and at the same time can prefigure the worlds they want the future to inhabit. Through looking at the example of historical movements and their manner of using assem-blies to manifest their own self-governance structures, I try to map some methods, tools and frameworks that might be fruitful for us today. Furthermore, I look into the complexities of assemblies in their temporal manifestations, the struggle of the “we” and resonance or dissonance that one may find within the space of the assembly. Moreover, I examine the potential of art within assemblism and through the artworks New World Summit (Jonas Staal), The Silent University (Ahmet Ogut) and the Al Madafeh (Sandi Hilal) explore the role and agency of art in thinking through and manifesting assemblies of a different kind. Lastly, this thesis touches upon the role of infrastructures and communication technologies in assemblies and questions the means through which we call upon and assemble today.