Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture

Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture

by Frederic Charles Schaffer
     
 

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Frederic C. Schaffer challenges the assumption often made by American scholars that democracy has been achieved in foreign countries when criteria such as free elections are met. Elections, he argues, often have cultural underpinnings that are...See more details below

Overview

Frederic C. Schaffer challenges the assumption often made by American scholars that democracy has been achieved in foreign countries when criteria such as free elections are met. Elections, he argues, often have cultural underpinnings that are...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A probing and highly original study. . . . A significant contribution to the literature on transitions to democracy."—Foreign Affairs

"This book is intended, in short, to enrich both the study of Senegal and democratic practices and the practice of cross-cultural inquiry more generally. Schaffer concludes his study with an excellent bibliography."—Choice

"Schaffer's small jewel of a book . . . contains a detailed description of his methodology for linguistic analysis of oral interviews, of political texts in documentary form and in the media, and of interviews with educated multilingual Senegalese. Intended for a relatively expert audience, the book is accessible to advanced undergraduates as well."—Margaret E. Scranton, Perspectives on Political Science. Fall, 1999.

"This well-crafted and deeply researched study is one of the two or three most important studies of democratization in Africa yet to appear in the 1990's."—John Clark, International Journal of African Historical Studies. 1998.

"Schaffer's intensive interviews and linguistic analysis demonstrate that good fieldwork, coupled with careful analysis, still has much to contribute to the field of comparative politics. . . If the author is correct and local interpretations of broad ideal and discourses of democracy are central to understanding and explaining the outcomes of political liberalization in Senegal, then this book is among the best written on this topic. . . It should be required reading for anyone interested in the prospects for political change not just in Senegal but in Africa as a whole."—William Reno, Comparative Political Studies. December, 1999.

"In this elegant and lucid study, Frederic C Schaffer asks what democracy means to people in Senegal. . . Schaffer succeeds in saying, to people who make blanket assertions about the democratic character and salutary benefits of elections, that democracy, when translated, is not necessarily what they think it is. That is his aim and achievement and arguably a quite valuable one."—Jeffrey W. Rubin, American Journal of Sociology. September, 1999.

"The interview material is pure gold: wonderfully clear, direct, and wise. Schaffer organizes and presents this material well, giving enough information about Senegal politics and society that one need not be a specialist to read it with interest. It is not difficult to empathize with the interview material; as so often happens, it is in the very particular that something universal can be discovered."—C. Douglas Lummis, author of Radical Democracy

"Transitologists beware! Underneath the extraordinary contemporary consensus that all transitions to democracy are worthy of international support, there lies an unnerving lack of agreement over what democracy is, and what values it ought to promote. Frederic Schaffer's remarkable study probes the cross-cultural incongruities in the understanding of democracy, and draws out the implications of these differential understandings for democratic theory. Democracy in Translation is therefore a must for all those interested in the current wave of democratizations."—David D. Laitin, author of Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad (see other books in BIP, or University of Chicago)

"How do different sectors of Senegalese society understand democracy? In this remarkable book, Frederic Schaffer works at the intersection of comparative politics, political theory, anthropology, and linguistics to answer this question. This volume establishes Schaffer as an exceptionally talented and original political scientist."—Scott Mainwaring, University of Notre Dame

"By using linguist analysis, Schaffer provides a creative approach to discovering the differences between elite and mass understanding of the meaning of democracy in Senegal. He provides new insights into Senegal's experiment in democracy, while demonstrating the importance of indigenous political culture for democracy in non-western societies."—Sheldon Gellar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"An innovative and fascinating book. Schaffer places the challenge of understanding concepts at the center of discussion in democratization studies and comparative politics." —David Collier, University of California, Berkeley

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801486913
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2000
Series:
The Wilder House Series in Politics, History and Culture Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

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