The replacement of the personal and external rule of the king with the impersonal and immanent self-rule of the people did not only pose representational difficulties of institutionalization and law, but of visualization and form. This essay examines pressures of popular visualization that accompanied the victorious appearance of popular sovereignty at key moments of its emergence. Images of peoplehood mediate the people’s relationship to their own political empowerment—how they understand themselves to be a part of and act as a people. I focus specifically on the emergence of the living image of the people, the novel idea that popular assemblies, crowds, and protests, were living incarnations of the people’s authority, sublime manifestations of popular will. However, the people’s living image does not express a unitary presence so much as a surplus of democratic immanence, the manifestation of a fissure within prevailing forms of political representation.

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