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Using Art to Resist Epistemic Injustice

The Aesthetics of the Oppressed and Democratic Freedom

Gustavo H. Dalaqua

Abstract

This article argues that the aesthetics of the oppressed—a series of artistic practices elaborated by Augusto Boal that comprises the theatre of the oppressed, the rainbow of desire technique, and legislative theatre—utilizes art in order to resist epistemic injustice and promote democratic freedom. By constraining people's ability to know and explore the potentialities of their bodies and desires, epistemic injustice perpetuates oppression and blocks the advent of democratic freedom. Whereas the theatre of the oppressed tackles corporal oppression, the rainbow of desire technique resists psychological oppression by encouraging the oppressed to critically examine their desires and self-knowledge. Finally, legislative theatre furthers democratic freedom by allowing citizens to protest against any epistemic injustice that might result from the enactment of laws made by representatives.

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Democratic Representation and Legislative Theatre

Gustavo H. Dalaqua

Abstract

This article seeks to contribute to the debate on how political representation can promote democracy by analysing the Chamber in the Square, which is a component of legislative theatre. A set of techniques devised to democratise representative governments, legislative theatre was created by Augusto Boal when he was elected a political representative in 1993. After briefly reviewing Nadia Urbinati's understanding of democratic representation as a diarchy of will and judgement, I partially endorse Hélène Landemore's criticism and contend that if representation is to be democratic, citizens’ exchange of opinions in the public sphere should be invested with the power not only to judge but also to decide political affairs. By opening up a space where the represented can judge, decide, and contest the general terms of the bills representatives present in the assembly, the Chamber in the Square harnesses political representation to democracy.