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Open access

Matthias Pauwels

This article discusses the persistent deployment of racial stereotypes in contemporary stand-up comedy and its potential hegemonic or counter-hegemonic effects. It asks whether racial stereotypes should be avoided or condemned altogether, considering the risks of interpretative ambiguity and offensiveness, or, alternatively, whether there are specific performative strategies and conditions that might make racial stereotype humour a powerful weapon in the anti-racist toolbox. As regards the first, several critiques are considered and it is shown that racial stereotype humour, and its reception, may harbour multiple, subtle forms of racism. In terms of defences, racial stereotype humour’s role of discharging stubborn psycho-affective investments is highlighted, as well as its function as ‘subversive play’. The article further pays special attention to aspects of audience reception (such as issues of missed subtlety and ‘clever’ laughter) and the importance of the comic’s racial positionality in performing racial stereotypes.

Open access

Stephen Louw, Michiel Meijer, and Tom Angier

Brian J. Peterson, Thomas Sankara: A Revolutionary in Cold War Africa, Bloomington, IN., Indiana University Press, 2021, 304pp, ISBN 0253053765 (pbk)

Hermann, J., Hopster, J., Kalf, W. and Klenk, M. (eds.) 2020. Philosophy in the Age of Science? Inquiries into Philosophical Progress, Method, and Societal Relevance, 284pp, ISBN 978-1-5381-4282-0 (hbk)

Thaddeus Metz, 2022. A Relational Moral Theory: African Ethics in and Beyond the Continent, Oxford University Press, 272pp, ISBN: 9780198748960 (hbk)

Open access

Democracies in the Ethnosphere

An Anthropologist’s Lived Experiences of Indigenous Democratic Cultures

Wade Davis and Jean-Paul Gagnon

Anthropology meets democratic theory in this conversation that explores indigeneity, diversity, and the potentialities of democratic practices as exist in the non-Western world. Wade Davis draws readers into the ethnosphere—the sum total of human knowledge and experience—to highlight the extinction events that are wiping out some half of human ethnic diversity. Gagnon worries over what is lost to how we can understand and practice democracy in this unprecedented, globally occurring, ethnocide.

Open access

Abel B.S. Gaiya

The article places Nigeria’s political and economic challenges in historical and global context. As opposed to viewing democracy or development emerging simply as the ‘will of the people’ or ‘political will’, it encourages a historical and structural view of the phenomena. Sustained democratic institutions and intensive economic growth emerge under particular conditions where the continued maintenance of hegemony and gate-keeping extractive states are no longer viable. A diversified capitalist class and economic power among a strong middle class are needed to demand greater democratic accountability. Industrial policy is essential to creating the structural change required for their emergence. Yet the dispersed and ethno-religiously fragmented distribution of power makes industrial policy implementation difficult. Given the salience of such historical and structural forces, postcolonial Nigerians should be seen as formative generations. Students and practitioners of development economics, policy and politics should be more creative in producing politically informed policies for the country.

Open access

Democracy’s Conceptual Politics

Liberalism and Its Others

Christopher Hobson

The language we use for democracy matters, the struggles over how it is defined are real, the outcomes are consequential. This is what a conceptual politics approach emphasizes, pointing to the vital role played by contestation in determining which meanings prevail and which are marginalized. Among all the meanings of democracy that exist, it is liberal democracy that stands at the center, it has effectively won conceptual and political battles resulting in its current primacy. In this sense, liberalism is much more deeply baked into contemporary discussions about democracy than some might be comfortable admitting. This is not without cause, as liberal democracy has achieved, and continues to unevenly provide, political, economic, and social goods. In the rush to dig up alternatives, it is important not to lose sight of how and why this liberal conception of democracy has come to dominate and the ways it conditions democratic possibilities.

Open access

Jason Dockstader and Rojîn Mûkrîyan

We do two things in this article: develop a novel conception of domination and show how the Kurdish people are dominated in this novel sense. Conceptions of domination are usually distinguished in terms of paradigm cases and whether they are moralised and/or normdependent accounts, or neither. By contrast, we argue there is a way of understanding domination in terms of distinct social kinds. Among kinds of domination, like economic or racial or sexual domination, there must be a specifically political kind of domination. Borrowing from Carl Schmitt’s framework of differing degrees of political enmity, we argue political domination is best understood as an existential form of domination whereby one people aim to prevent the independent existence of another people mainly through the uncontrolled power and extreme violence involved in absolute enmity. This conception of existential domination is offered as an example of a non-moralised, normindependent account of domination. We then argue that the Kurdish people, who are the largest stateless people in the world, suffer existential domination from the absolute enmity expressed towards them by the four nation-states they find themselves dominated within: Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Open access

Enacting Candor

Podemos and the Analytical Potential of Ocular Democracy

Manuel Kautz

Most citizens of representative democracies do not take political decisions in their everyday lives. Although participation in periodic elections, political parties, or social movements varies, above all, according to socio-economic status, taking a political decision is, in general, a relatively extraordinary event for the vast majority of citizens. The everyday political experience of these citizens is rather structured by watching and listening to political elites. Unlike the tenor of democratic theory, this quotidian mode of passively following politics is ocular democracy’s starting point. So far, the debate on ocular democracy has emphasized its shortcomings as a normative theory. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, this article illustrates the potential of ocular democracy as an analytical tool in the context of intra-party democracy. Podemos’ intra-party procedures are analyzed by complementing an institutional perspective with ocular democracy, thus showing how a party leader inclined to appear particularly venturesome undermines ambitious forms of intra-party democracy.

Open access

Jean-Paul Gagnon, Hans Asenbaum, Dannica Fleuss, Sonia Bussu, Petra Guasti, Rikki Dean, Pierrick Chalaye, Nardine Alnemr, Friedel Marquardt, and Alexander Weiss

This introductory article to Democratic Theory’s special issue on the marginalized democracies of the world begins by presenting the lexical method for understanding democracy. It is argued that the lexical method is better than the normative and analytical methods at finding democracies in the world. The argument then turns to demonstrating, mainly through computational research conducted within the Google Books catalog, that an empirically demonstrable imbalance exists between the democracies mentioned in the literature. The remainder of the argument is given to explaining the value of working to correct this imbalance, which comes in at least three guises: (1) studying marginalized democracies can increase our options for alternative democratic actions and democratic innovations; (2) it leads to a conservation and public outreach project, which is epitomized in an “encyclopedia of the democracies”; and (3) it advocates for a decolonization of democracies’ definitions and practices and decentering academic democratic theory.

Open access

Phillip Becher, Katrin Becker, Kevin Rösch, and Laura Seelig

Focusing on selected “Western” conceptions of democracy, we expose and normatively evaluate their conflictual meanings. We unpack the white democracy of prominent ordoliberal Wilhelm Röpke, which comprises an elitist bias against the demos, and we discuss different assessments of his 1964 apologia of Apartheid South Africa. Our critical-historical study of Röpke’s marginalized meaning of democracy traces a neglected anti-democratic continuity in his work that is to be contextualized within wider elitist (neo)liberal discourses: from his critique of Nazism in the 1930s to the defense of Apartheid in the 1960s. We provide an alternative, marginalized meaning of democracy that draws on Marxist political science. Such a meaning of democracy helps explain why liberal democratic theory is ill equipped to tackle anti-democratic tendencies re-emerging in liberal-democratic polities.

Open access

Practicing Democracy from Childhood

Democratic Praxis in Te Ao Māori

Kylie Smith, Ksenija Napan, Raewyn Perkinson, and Roberta Hunter

Democracy manifests itself in a range of ways and is an imperfect, dynamic struggle for collective decision-making. This article discusses the multifaceted processes of deliberative democratic praxis found in traditional Māori society. Central to decision-making in te ao Māori, hui provide formal and informal structures for deliberative democracy, precedent setting, learning, and transformation through consensus making, inclusive debate, and discussion across all levels of society. Rather than coercion and voting, rangatira relied on a complex mix of customary values and accomplished oratory skills to explore issues in family and community meetings and in public assemblies. Decisions made through inclusive deliberative processes practiced in hui established evident reasoning and responsibility for all community members to uphold the reached consensus. This article claims that practicing deliberative democracy as a fundamental way of life, learned through ongoing active and meaningful participation throughout childhood, improves the integrity of democratic decision-making.