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Nyerere and the African Theory of Democracy

Conrad John Masabo

Had Karl Marx been an African, he would have written a very different book than Das Kapital. ( Nyerere 1968a: 16 ) This article examines Julius Kambarage Nyerere's theory of democracy and its usefulness in informing Tanzania's and Africa

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Conspiracy theories and their truth trajectories

Mathijs Pelkmans and Rhys Machold

This article aims to reinvigorate analytical debates on conspiracy theories. It argues that definitional attempts to set conspiracy theories apart from other theories are flawed. Blinded by the “irrational” reputation of conspiracy theories and deluded by the workings of institutionalized power such approaches fail to recognize that there are no inherent differences between the two categories. We argue that assessments of conspiracy theories should focus not on the epistemological qualities of these theories but on their interactions with the socio-political fields through which they travel. Because “conspiracy theory” is not a neutral term but a powerful label, attention to processes of labeling highlights these larger fields of power, while the theories’ trajectories illuminate the mechanisms by which truth and untruth are created. As such, this article offers a way forward for assessing both the truth and use value of conspiracy theories in the contemporary world.

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Theory and method in the study of poverty in east Africa

John R. Campbell

This article explores the relation between theory and method in three methodologically innovative studies of rural poverty. The issue is pertinent because the nature of research on poverty has shifted from small-scale qualitative studies to large surveys, and to national-scale studies that combine qualitative and quantitative methods in an effort to inform policy makers on appropriate poverty reduction strategies. The interest in combined methods holds considerable promise for poverty research because it links a search for 'objective' economic concerns to the analysis of 'subjective' and context-specific issues. It is instructive to examine recent studies of poverty that have pursued different theoretical and methodological choices with a view to understand how 'theory' influenced methodological choices, and whether and how such choices influenced their understanding of poverty.

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Theory for Praxis

Peacemaking, Cunning Recognition, and the Constitution of Enmity

Joyce Dalsheim

This article argues that scholars and activists concerned with peace and social justice in Israel/Palestine may unintentionally undermine their own goals when they abandon theory for praxis through recognition of parties to conflict. Recognition of ethno-national identity in peacemaking efforts helps reproduce the hegemonic order. Recognizing the subaltern here is a form of Elizabeth Povinelli's 'cunning recognition', which may do little more than produce a moral community of the recognizers. This case illustrates a broader pattern in which controversial ideas only succeed in arriving at the center of politics when they can no longer be implemented. It raises concerns about abandoning theory for praxis more generally, suggesting that theory not be abandoned because it is inconvenient for political purposes.

Open access

Afterword

Maya Mayblin

become comfortable with uncertainty. The bold universalistic theories of religion may not have disappeared entirely, as Bandak and Stjernholm acknowledge, but it is unlikely that any “will sweep the board and establish a new ‘truth regime.’” When it

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Harold Jenkins’s Copy of Alternative Shakespeares

James Everest and Clare Whitehead

readers to the range of social, cultural and intellectual currents that are now commonly referred to with the umbrella term ‘theory’. 2 It is, as a result, difficult not to read Alternative Shakespeares in the context of a confrontation, one

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Research Methodology in Kurdish Studies

Interactions between Fieldwork, Epistemology and Theory

Mehmet Orhan

domination and legitimation in societies, likely resulting from the separate discussion of theory and observation (see Shil's foreword to Weber 1949 ). This problem has certainly lessened due to the development of methodological and fieldwork techniques

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What Is Democratic Theory?

Rikki Dean, Jean-Paul Gagnon, and Hans Asenbaum

What is democratic theory? The question is surprisingly infrequently posed. Indeed, the last time this precise question appears in the academic archive was exactly forty years ago, 1 in James Alfred Pennock's (1979) book Democratic Political

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Pyrosociality

The Power of Fire in Transforming the Blue Ridge Mountain Ecoregion

Cynthia Twyford Fowler

hierarchies related to controlling or influencing more-than-human communities. Pyrosocial theory provokes crucial questions, such as: What is made visible when we focus on relations of power and vulnerability within habitats co- constructed by multispecies

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Comparative Democratic Theory

Alexander Weiss

Western liberal democracy is in crisis ( Chou 2014 ; Merkel and Kneip 2018 ; Castells 2019 ), as is Western democratic theory ( Sawyer 2016 ; Gagnon and Beausoleil 2017 ). Among the symptoms of the latter is a certain blindness and conceptual