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Onions, Artichokes and 'The Debate' on the Nation and Modernity

Laurence Piper

Nationalism and Modernism, by Anthony D. Smith. London & New York: Routledge, 1998. ISBN: 0415063418.

Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction, by Umut Özkrimili. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000. ISBN: 0333777123.

Understanding Nationalism, edited by Montserrat Guibernau and John Hutchinson. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN: 0745624022.

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Power

A Radical View

Laurence Piper

Power: a Radical View (Second Edition), by Steven Lukes. London: Palgrave, 2005. ISBN: 0-333-42092-6.

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Laurence Piper

That democracy has won is common cause. The vast majority of states of the world today are termed ‘democratic’, a fact that stands in some contrast to the global order just some fifty years ago. Even more importantly, there is no competing alternative model of political rule, other than perhaps forms of radical Islam. Yet at the very moment of its triumph, democracy finds itself in trouble. Recent survey evidence from the United States suggests both political disengagement and a growing cynicism towards parties and elites, and similar trends are evident in Europe. Moreover, democracy faces substantial problems in the developing world, whether a tangible fragility among newly democratic states in Africa, or serious discontent at the responsiveness of government in many middle-income countries. Hence, at the very moment of hegemony we have increasing talk of democratic deficit.

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Laurence Piper

On the mainstream liberal view it is both possible and desirable to separate out political and economic power from prescriptive normative views of how life ought to be led—at least beyond a relatively restricted ‘overlapping consensus’ about what constitutes the right process for resolving disputes about political leadership, justice and the economy. This is said to establish a public realm where claims to resources and recognition are framed in universal terms, and a private realm where particular beliefs about God, family and culture reside. Only by compromising views of politics justified by particular visions of the good life can we who value freedom and equality co-exist peacefully and prosperously, especially in an increasingly multi-cultural and socio-economically diverse world. In various ways the articles in this edition challenge this view, and offer more complex portrayals of the theoretical and empirical relationships between democracy, morality and discipline.

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Laurence Piper

‘The history of the Zulu people is the history of myself’.1 In Africa, as elsewhere, the notion of tradition is bound up with the discourses of ethnicity and nationalism. Typically invoking pre-colonial identities as the basis of peoplehood, such narratives of common descent are imbued with a strong sense of ‘pastness’, orientating the modern self in traditional terms. Anderson explains this invocation of tradition as a feature of the inverted nature of ethnic narratives of common descent.2 More common are accounts which focus on the ‘loss of meaning’ brought about by modernisation and the psychic security offered by an idealised past. Recent theories look to supplant this sense of tradition as reaction with a sense of tradition as creation. One example is Lonsdale’s argument that the affirmation of ethnicity in post-colonial Africa, with its associated invention of tradition, must be seen in the context of internal debates over civic virtue as pre-colonial moral economies are re-structured by the state and capitalism.

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From Religious Transcendence to Political Utopia

The Legacy of Richard Turner for Post-Apartheid Political Thought

Laurence Piper

In recent times South African politics has come to exhibit features typical of many post-colonial contexts, not least the rise of acrimonious and confrontational politics based around personalities and forms of populism. In such contexts rational dialogue and democratic deliberation become increasingly difficult to get going and to sustain. Drawing on Richard Turner's The Eye of the Needle, first published some forty years ago, the paper examines the role religion, and religious organisations, could play in returning such acrimonious public debate to more democratic and visionary grounds. The key point is that religion offers a form of transcendence from the divisive and bitter particularities that animate contemporary political conflicts. It does this through the spiritual affirmation of our shared human worth due to the love of God(s). From this recognition, achieved through spiritual appeals, the conditions for more rational and democratic debate can be retrieved. In addition, religious transcendence redeems the value of utopian thinking, and thus could help re-orientate public debate from a politics of blame for past wrongs to a politics of imagining of future rights.

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Crisis, History and the Challenge of Reinvention in the Postcolonial

The African National Congress after Apartheid

Laurence Piper

Susan Booysen. 2011. The African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

Anthony Butler. 2012. The Idea of the ANC. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Stephen Ellis. 2012. External Mission: The ANC in Exile. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

Arianna Lissoni, Jon Soske, Natasha Erlank, Noor Nieftagodien and Omar Badsha (eds). 2012. One Hundred Years of the ANC: Debating Liberation Histories Today. Johannesburg: Wits University Press and South African History Online.

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How Participatory Institutions Deepen Democracy through Broadening Representation

The Case of Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Laurence Piper

At the same time as democracy has 'triumphed' in most of the world, it leaves many unsatisfied at the disjuncture between the democratic ideal and its practical expression. Participatory practices and institutions, as exemplified in the participatory budgeting process of the local government of Porto Alegre in Brazil, claim to embody a more substantive version of democracy that can settle this deficit. This article interrogates this promise through examining closely the case of Porto Alegre. In addition to demonstrating clear democratic outcomes, this examination also reveals that the meaning of democratic deepening is not cashed out exclusively in terms of participation but in terms of representation too. More specifically, participatory budgeting serves to broaden representation in the budgeting process as a whole, by better including and amplifying the voice of marginalised groups in aspects of the budgeting process, albeit through participatory practices and events. On reflection this should not be surprising as participatory budgeting introduces new decision-making procedures that supplement rather than replace existing representative institutions, and reform rather than transform expenditure patterns. Thus although termed participatory, at the level of the municipal system as a whole, participatory institutions assist in better representing the interests of marginalised groups in decision-making through participatory means. Deepening democracy, therefore, at least as far as new participatory institutions are concerned, is about new forms of representation and participation, rather than replacing representation with participation.

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Laurence Piper and Maria Tamboukou

Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How it Works, by Frank M. Bryan Laurence Piper

Fabricating Foucault: Rationalising the Management of Individuals, by Roger Deacon Maria Tamboukou

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Julia de Kadt, Laurence Piper, Michael Lambert, Kevin A. Morrisson, Michael Phillips, and Lance Lachenicht

Political Topographies of the African State, by Catherine Boone Julia de Kadt

Toleration, Neutrality and Democracy, edited by Dario Castiglione and Catriona McKinnon Laurence Piper

The Culture of Toleration in Diverse Societies: Reasonable Tolerance, edited by Catriona McKinnon and Dario Castiglione Laurence Piper

Democracy, edited by David Estlund Laurence Piper

War and Gender, by Joshua S. Goldstein Michael Lambert

The Uncanny, by Nicholas Royle Kevin A. Morrisson

Political Reconciliation, by Andrew Schaap Michael Phillips

The Illusion of Conscious Will, by Daniel M. Wegner Lance Lachenicht