Not Just Speaking for Ourselves


ACLS Fellowship Program




Informal political representatives (IPRs) are ubiquitous. They speak or act on behalf of others though neither elected nor selected by means of formal, systematized election or selection procedures. Familiar examples abound: Me Too’s Tarana Burke informally represents women who have experienced sexual assault or harassment. Black Lives Matter informally represents Black communities in the United States and beyond. IPRs play crucial roles in the lives of the represented, particularly when the represented are marginalized or oppressed. Though unelected, IPRs voice interests, make groups visible, and negotiate with lawmakers. Accordingly, IPRs can have significant power to influence how those they represent are regarded by a wide variety of audiences. Yet, IPRs’ power can, unchecked, put the represented in danger. Such unconstrained power generates unexpected duties for both IPRs and their audiences. "Not Just Speaking for Ourselves" provides a systematic normative theory of informal political representation.