Please note that module information is indicative and may change year to year.
How is democracy understood and lived around the world? Do the geographically and historically specific imaginations and set ups of democratic governance exhaust the ways democracy can emerge and develop? How can we explain widespread democratic crisis or democratic malaise in both established and emerging liberal democracies today? This political anthropology module begins with the double assertion that, while democracy has become the hegemonic paradigm of political organization globally, democracy is not a system of governance per se. Rather, democracy is first and foremost an idea, namely that that people should equally and actively participate in organizing the collectivity. Therefore, the module will delve into experiences of the democratic around the world with a view to perform the following critical scholarly gestures: 1) Pluralize the range of phenomena and attitudes that are understood and actualized as democratic 2) Trace the cultural implications of international democracy promotion predominantly but not exclusively in postcolonial societies 3) Provide geographically embedded critiques of institutionalized liberalism, the historically hyphenated partner of Western democracy, both its commitment to the naturalized values of individualism, rule of law, secularism, and capitalism and its elision with the prerogatives of the global market. The module will explore some case-studies from the Euro-American context, but will place specific emphasis on experiences from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
The module does not require any prior knowledge in political anthropology.
This module aims to:
Consolidate a deep student understanding of democratic theories and the concept of democracy;
Strengthen student ability to critically assess and produce scholarly insight over the productive interaction between political theory and methodological empiricism;
Familiarise students to the discipline of political anthropology;
Familiarise students with a wide range of democratic experiences around the world.
By the end of the module students will be able to:
Critically review Euro-American democratic theory in relation to its global applicability;
Demonstrate a deep understanding of democratic discourse and practice in social science;
Engage confidently in the systematic comparison and evaluation of different political contexts.
Employability and Transferable Skills:
This module places considerable emphasis on student employability by cultivating transferable skills that are highly sought-after in the civil and diplomatic sectors, journalism, development, and other fields of political analysis. To this end, students will learn:
How to critically approach and relativise dominant political concepts;
How to synthesise information across geopolitical and historical contexts;
How to prepare an oral presentation on the topics of democracy and democratization;
How to take initiative in the conceptualisation and completion of a research process for the completion of the module essay.
Two hours per week, one lecture and one seminar
Indicative teaching schedule
Week 1: Democracy, An Anthropological Approach
Week 2: Glossaries and Pedagogies
Week 3: Agents of Democracy
Week 4: Democratic Affects
Week 5: Democratic Rituals
Week 6: Democracy, Egalitarianism and Hierarchy
Week 7: Democratic Malaise Part 1: Democracy in the Post Colony
Week 8: Democratic Malaise Part 2: Democracy and the Market
Week 9: Direct Democracies
Week 10: Revision and Summative Assessment Workshop
Note that this teaching schedule is indicative and subject to change.
Module assessment - more information
One 4,000 word essay (85%) and one 10 minute oral presentation (15%)