The Nature of Silence and Its Democratic Possibilities

  • Mónica Brito Vieira
  • Theo JungEmail author
  • Sean W. D. Gray
  • Toby Rollo
Critical Exchange

In 2003, this journal published a groundbreaking article entitled “Silence: A Politics”. The author, Kennan Ferguson, wrote against the traditional understanding of silence as “inimical to politics”. It was time, he claimed, to consider the full-breadth of possibilities of political agency that lay in silence, for the politics of silence was irreducible to domination and the possibilities of resistance it engenders: i.e., to silencing (denial of agency) and silent resistance (reactive agency). Silence could also be positively constitutive of selves, individual and collective.

The challenge to revisit the agential potentials of silence was launched, but it would take some years before political theorists took heed of it. This is starting to happen now. However, to address the possibilities of agency in silence, political theorists are feeling the need to return to basics: the nature of silence, and the relationship between silence and speech. These are also the questions driving this...



The workshop from which this exchange originated was funded by the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship “The Politics of Silence.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mónica Brito Vieira
    • 1
  • Theo Jung
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sean W. D. Gray
    • 3
  • Toby Rollo
    • 4
  1. 1.University of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Lakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada

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