Northwestern Events Calendar


Demetra Kasimis: The Intimacy of Conspiracy: Democratic Erosion and the Problem of the Oikos

Sofia Rozaki, olly olly oxen free, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 195 x 300 cm

When: Friday, February 18, 2022
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Central

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Upenieks   (847) 491-7597

Group: Department of Classics

Co-Sponsor: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Real and suspected plots to overthrow democracy periodically dominated life in classical Athens, but scholars have been slow to see conspiracy as a pressing concern for the critical democratic thought that took shape in and around these convulsive realities. This talk will argue that the threat of conspiracy had a constitutive role in the formation of classical Greek arguments about democracy. It will suggest that critics like Plato and Aristotle use secrecy, collaboration, and the illicit—the main features of a conspiracy—not just to explore antidemocratic and revolutionary plots but, more curiously, to represent the core institutions and practices that sustain democracy and, for this reason, can undermine it from within. Democracy’s constituent elements get figured in conspiratorial terms. More specifically, tracing the question of conspiracy in Athenian texts takes us into the household, the oikos, that unseen yet publicly regulated and legally established conduit for producing citizens and heirs; managing income and slaves; and regulating the accumulation of wealth that could embolden oligarchic threats against democracy. 

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