The Spectre of Democracy | Kosiński | Polish Theatre Journal

ISSN 2451-2966


Dariusz Kosiński

The Spectre of Democracy


In this article I attempt to analyse the pro-democratic appearances that have taken place in many countries in recent years, using the concept of performative democracy proposed by Elżbieta Matynia in her well-known book of the same name. I accept her argument that appearances that create a distanced performative democracy movement revive the emotions associated with democracy in countries that accepted it long ago, and therefore often treat it as something well known, or even boring, and use it to demonstrate the spectral and vampiric nature of democracy that is manifested in its representations. I perceive the former in the performances of democratic utopia on the “freedom squares” in Ukraine and Egypt, and the latter in the reactions to them from the representatives of “old democracies”. I bring these out by combining Matynia’s proposals with the understanding of performance as surrogation developed by Joseph Roach in his book Cities of the Dead. These analyses lead to problematisation of democracy as a complex construct based at least equally on sustaining and excluding, whereby every so often the hidden mechanisms of the latter threaten to disintegrate the whole system.


performative democracy; spectres; surrogation; democratic demonstrations in Egypt and Ukraine

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Dariusz Kosiński

(1966), professor at the Performance Studies Department of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. His main publications are Polski teatr przemiany (“Polish Theatre of Transformation”, 2007). Grotowski. Przewodnik (“Grotowski. A Guide”, 2009), Teatra polskie. Historie (“Polish Theatres. Histories”, 2010); the German translation Polnisches Theater. Eine Geschichte in Szenen, Theater der Zeit, Berlin 2011). In 2010–2013 he was the research director of the Grotowski Institute in Wrocław. He was a member of the editorial board of the collected texts of Jerzy Grotowski, published in Polish in 2012. Since February 2014 the research director of the Theatre Institute in Warsaw.