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Reading: Hasso Hofmann and the Polysemy of Representation


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Hasso Hofmann and the Polysemy of Representation


Alessandro Mulieri

University of Leuven, BE
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Undoubtedly, representation is one of the most elusive notions that we can find in political theory and includes several different and often incompatible meanings. Most of these meanings have their origins in the history of the word. In recent years, the field of political theory has witnessed a renewed attention to political representation. Yet, there has been almost no scholarly literature on the specific problem of the relationship between the polysemy of representation and the definition of political representation. This article aims to fill this void calling for a renewed attention to the conceptual history of representation as a necessary preliminary step to investigate the politicization of the semantics of representation. The purpose of this contribution is to provide an outline of the different meanings of the Latin term repraesentatio as the German legal philosopher, Hasso Hofmann presents them in Repräsentation: Studien zur Wort- und Begriffsgeschichte von der Antike bis ins 19. Jahrhundert, a book published in 1974. Hofmann’s work helps make the case for the importance of conceptual history in the theoretical reflection on representation.

How to Cite: Mulieri, Alessandro. 2016. “Hasso Hofmann and the Polysemy of Representation”. Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory 19 (2): 127–45. DOI:
Published on 01 Sep 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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