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May 16, 2008


University of Maine at Fort Kent Assistant Professor of Foundations of Education and Social Science, Dr. Vladimir Suchan, presented a paper, “Empire as Representation: A Platonic Critique,” at the New England Political Science Association Conference held in Providence, Rhode Island, last month.  

Dr. Suchan’s presentation was part of the panel “Theory: Reading and Rereading the Text” chaired by Dr. Emily Nacol from Brown University. Other panelists included Professor Michael Frazer from Harvard University and Dr. Jakub Franek from Boston College.  

Part of the conference also was a Pi Sigma Alpha lecture delivered by the former Massachusetts governor and the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nominee, Dr. Michael Dukakis.  

In reflecting on the lessons of his own presidential campaign, he called on the Democrats to form a precinct-based campaign organization and to abandon the heavy reliance on PR experts, expensive advertising and unpredictable media coverage. He also insisted on the need to reinvest in the country’s aging and ailing infrastructure, which is critical for reviving the economy as a whole.  Dukakis also revealed that his own wife, Kitty, has become an ardent supporter of Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination.   

In his paper, Dr. Suchan analyzed “the paradox” of representation, which, according to its classical definition, means the making present in some sense of something which is nevertheless not present literally or in fact. According to Dr. Suchan, such representation together with its underlying paradox is not only the central principle of the organization of modern political life, but also a very powerful psychological mechanism. It is important to study the effects and consequences of those mental presences and absences that are constructed by the habits of such representations. For democracy is also an effective pedagogy; and the most effective pedagogy is active engagement, involvement, and participation that reconstitutes the presence of the citizen.