From one materiality to another: Random selection through the lens of the electoral process

5. Postface
By Yves Déloye

This special issue of Participations offers a valuable counterpoint to essentialist studies of political selection instruments. First, because it meticulously contextualizes the many diverse uses of random selection in the political realm, as well as its numerous judicial, administrative, and religious applications. By providing a variety of experiments (from the ancient world to more contemporary uses of sortition), comparing different historical moments, and combining historical analysis with more theoretical considerations, this volume describes the whole panorama of practices, rituals, and material formats that historically accompanied the effective implementation of random selection. Far from being reducible to an “essence” or “nature,” or even to a stable principle, sortition is systematically embedded within ritualized institutional arrangements and historical configurations, as well as individual cultures (often inherently religious or political), which always focus their unique lens on sortition practices. This prevents any sort of broad understanding or overarching study of the procedure as such.


  • electoral process
  • contextual political analysis
  • material history
  • social ritual
  • random selection
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