Starting with a narrative detailing of the personal experience of being close to the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on an Amsterdam street, the introduction lays out the crucial role of giving meaning to events for authoritative governance. Based on the assumption that political situations are often far more open than is appreciated the introduction develops the question how to conceive of an authoritative political governance in today's conflict-ridden situations. The Van Gogh case is seen as an illustration of a ‘dislocation’ – a situation where political routine is lifted from its solid institutional hinges. At those moments, the quality of the performance can make claims authoritative or failures. Moreover, government performances influence whether reasoned elaboration may take place. The introduction suggests to break with the separation of style from content and collective intelligence: it is through the presentation of the political self that meaning is given, roles are defined, and narratives of conflict or cohesion are promoted. This introduction sketches the contours of the dramaturgical method used to analyse governance as political drama.
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