Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.

avec la collaboration de Madhi Mehraeen et Ibrahim Tavalla

War since 1979 and the reconstruction of the state under Western tutelage since 2001 have led to a simplification of the identity of Afghan society, through an invention of ethnicity and tradition – a process behind which the control or the ownership of the political and economic resources of the country are at stake. Hazarajat is a remarkable observation site of this process. Its forced integration into the nascent Afghan state during the late nineteenth century has left a mark on its history. The people of Hazara, mainly Shi’ite, has been relegated to a subordinate position from which it got out of progressively, only by means of jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the US intervention in 2001, at the ost of an ethnicization of its social and political consciousness. Ethnicity, however, is based on a less communitarian than unequal moral and political economy. Post-war aid to state-building has polarized social relations, while strengthening their ethnicization: donors and NGOs remain prisoners of a cultural, if not orientalist approach to the country that they thereby contribute to “traditionalize”, while development aid destabilizes the “traditional” society by accelerating its monetization and commodification.

Alice Ekman

Since the Kuomintang returned to power in 2008, Beijing has adjusted its communication strategy towards Taiwan, while maintaining the same long-term goal of reunification. This strategy of rapprochement by seduction rather than by threat promotes the rapid growth of exchanges between the Chinese and Taiwanese populations at all levels: students, tourists, farmers, businessmen, academics, retired diplomats and military, politicians, etc. Especially, the multiplication of meetings between academics of both countries is creating new channels of communication over the Strait, allowing on the one hand to compensate for the lack of formal diplomacy between Beijing and Taipei, and on the other hand to compete with informal diplomatic links existing between Taiwan and several of its partners (US and Japan, mainly). These communication channels could ultimately reinforce Beijing’s strategy – and China keeps investing heavily in their development – but could also be used as a conduit to prevent and to manage crisis would tensions reappear in the Strait.

Due to the growing importance of religion in post-Soviet Russia and the prevalent place of the Orthodox Church in Russian politics, certain analysts have argued that Russia is undergoing a process of desecularization today. While this phenomenon is also occurring in other parts of the world, Russia is different from these cases—notably because of its sociopolitical history and its particular religious context. Instead of opposing this trend toward desecularization to the earlier trend toward secularization at the time of the Soviet Union, the emphasis is put on the continuity of governemental practices. Religion today has become an essential part of a mode of governing that was made possible through a form of identity-building reinvented by the elites. This mode of governing reflects to a certain extent the continuity of the Soviet mode of governing characterized by a non pluralist ideology.