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It is possible to imagine a theory of democracy and a constitutional history independent of human subjectivity

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Description

Ruth A. Miller excavates a centuries-old history of nonhuman and nonbiological constitutional engagement and outlines a robust mechanical democracy that challenges existing theories of liberal and human political participation. Drawing on an eclectic set of legal, political, and automotive texts from France, Turkey, and the United States, she proposes a radical mechanical re-articulation of three of the most basic principles of democracy: vitality, mobility, and liberty.

Rather than defending a grand theory of materialist or posthumanist politics, or addressing abstract concepts or “things” writ large, Miller invites readers into a self-contained history of constitutionalism situated in a focused discussion of automobile traffic congestion in Paris, Istanbul, and Boston. Within the mechanical public sphere created by automotive space, Snarl finds a model of democratic politics that transforms our most fundamental assumptions about the nature, and constitutional potential, of life, movement, and freedom.

Ruth A. Miller is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.