Anthropology
in Democratization through the looking-glass

The writer's understanding of the anthropological enterprise revolves around the need for a self-reflective perspective on the nature and the use of normative discourse in social interaction. This chapter discusses the author's empirical work that highlights the use of normative argument to legitimize the exercise of power. The writer's exposure to the rhetoric of democratization stems largely from the normative discourse of Western governments and transnational agencies concerning desirable modes of institutional practice in the political systems of the region. This understanding of democratization relates specifically to a programmatic agenda of state reform promoted by transnational actors and enforced via conditions associated with foreign aid and, more recently, debt relief. The chapter also explains a few ways in which recent anthropological engagements with the state can fertilize debates about democratic politics.

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Editor: Peter Burnell
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