The January 1997 popular protest in Bulgaria revealed how fragile representative democracy's legitimacy is likely to be in post-communist regimes. An often underlooked item in the transitologists' studies on Eastern Europe, political representation thus provides a vantage point for monitoring the process of democratic consolidation. By adopting political linkage as the conceptual focus of our investigation, we way attempt to elucidate the ways in wich the relationship between the rulers and the ruled develops and consequently unveils factors conducive to the routinisation of a democratic political relationship. The approach adopted her entails an emphasis on the social imaginaries of representation with a view to to identifying citizens' expectations about their appointees as well as the symbolic and material bases interactions between voters and representatives build upon. In a country where the differentiation of economic interests and their channeling by political parties where hampered by the slow pace of structural reforms, political linkages are not primarily grounded upon the voters' rational assessment of their preferences. Rather they tend to be rooted in social representations of politics. While being relegated into a distant sphere of corrupted and particularistic otherness, politics is nonetheless supposed to meet essentially clientelistic expectations. In a context where deputies enjoy a poor institutional legitimacy, any failure to guarantee social and ecnomic redistribution threatens the representational linkage with distruption.

Marco Martiniello

The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point

Emilie René

The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.

Bennetta Jules-Rosette et Denis-Constant Martin

Popular culture is a terrain on which social identity and collective representations are forged. Recently, scholars in the areas of anthropology, cultural studies, political science, and literature have approached the social and political implications of popular culture from contrasting perspectives. These approaches have opened up a number of important questions and debates. Is popular culture a product of resistance or a source of escape? Are the mixtures, fusions, and combinations that characterize popular culture today emblems of identity, signs of an inevitable process of globalization, or by-products of complex processes drawing upon the dialectics of universalization and discourses of contestation ? This paper addresses these questions by examining theories of the production, reception, and consumption of popular culture in comparative perspective. It explores the structures of signification that arise in the transmission of popular culture and the complexities and ambivalences involved in the cycle of communication. Popular culture is analyzed as a permeable system of significations based on memory, and providing material for the construction and expression of collective identity, and contrasting attitudes towards power. An overview of recent theoretical and methodological developments is followed by a comparative analysis of data drawn from popular art and music in Africa, the Antilles, Europe, India, Latin America, and the Unites States. In conclusion, new theoretical directions are suggested in order to reassess the implications of empirical studies in the field.

The state in Africa and in Asia is often conceived of as a "purely imported product" to use the accepted expression of Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum. However rather than limit ourselves to accounts of some kind of "failed universalisation", questions should rather be raised concerning state creation as a historical process, one which is conflictual, unintentional, generally unconscious and, as a result, often paradoxical. Indeed the argument that the state is fundamentally extraneous cannot be maintained in the light of recent historical and anthropological research. From this research it would seem that institutions of European origin have acquired their own social roots and have become culturally appropriated. They thus must be examined within the "long term" time framework suggested by Braudel, on condition that certain methodological precautions are taken into account.Three ways can be envisaged for reconstituting the historical trajectories of the state in Africa and Asia: as a continuous civilisational process, as expressions of social inequality or cultural configurations of politics. However while an understanding of cultural historicity is a precondition for understanding political historicity it should not, with all due respect to intellectual trendmakers, lead to culturalist explanations. Foucault's concept of gouvernementalité provides a more promising problematic, one which places the creation of the state in relationship to the process of ascribing it with a subjective quality as well as the imaginary dimension of politics. Both of these have to be grasped within their connection to the material.

Zaki Laïdi

World time represents a special moment in history when human societies experience the common feeling that they are renegociating at an accelerated pace their relationship with both time and space. The overriding impression is encapsulated in the idea that a new global dynamic exists consisting of intertwined events and unprecedented situations which prompts us to believe and to think collectively that nothing will remain as before. This situation can be conceptualized as the interaction of, on the one hand, the geopolitical and cultural consequences of the post Cold War environment and, on the other, the speeding up of globalization processes at the economic, social and cultural levels. In the post Cold War context the collective imagination is impinged upon by the loss of communal points of references, of the alignments, dogmas and tne diplomatic/strategic conflicts enscribed within a State-centred framework. Secondly, the imagined world of globalization involves a broadening of the referential space for individuals, companies and social actors generally. Finally world time both links and merges two fundamental dimensions, namely globalization and the end of the Cold War dichotomy, thus producing an articulation between a borderless world and a world without clearly defined reference points.

Olivier Roy

One of the causes of the weakness of the State in the Middle East is that prime allegiance goes to the "solidarity group" (açabiyya), a social network which is always founded on family and personal relationships. These solidarity groups either are committed to a national strategy in order to control the State or, on the contrary, become delocalised and internationalised within diasporas which create their own transnational networks. Solidarity groups are not the expression of the permanence of a traditional society within a modern State, but rather a recomposition of allegiance networks within a political space definitively modified by the existence of a State. This recomposition can take three main forms. Firstly territorial establishment and the development of a community within sub-ethnic groups competing for power: the Kulabis in Tajikistan for example. Secondly the delocalisation of power networks which fade away once their objective, the obtaining of State power, is achieved (the Samarkand faction in Uzbekistan). Finally it can be achieved by the linking to an international network, for example that of humanitarian aid. These different types of recomposition do not weaken the State as such, which remains the framework of any possible inscription in the political space. But they do hinder the transition towards an ethnic State which can function only when it is built from above: thus Uzbekistan exists - not Baluchistan.

Sudipta Kaviraj

Western theories of democracy are not always helpful in studying Third World democracy. One promising way to undertake analysis is to consider democracy not as a political system but as a "language". Whilst in India the written constitution was inspired by models developed in the West, in practice Indian democracy is not based on the values of individualism associated with a liberal ideology. Indeed, initially the nation itself and, afterwards, social groups were considered as the basic units of the political process. This was particularly the case in the early post-independance period under Gandhi's inspiration for he regarded the nation as being composed of traditional communities. Later Nehru would abandon liberal values as a part of a leftist critique, one that would favorize state intervention. Nevertheless the stronger state was not able to undertake the expected redistributive measures due to the conservatism of the Congress Party "bosses " who were above all the representatives of a ruling coalition of large landholders, a capitalist bourgeoisie and the public service elite. The only real sign of progress prior to Nehru's death was the replacement of the first element by an upwardly mobile group of wealthier peasant farmers. Through her populist discourse, Indira Gandhi was able to veer Indian democracy towards greater centralisation and a more pronounced personality cult. As a result the democratic process was discredited and a State of Emergency declared in 1975. The return to democracy in 1977 did not reverse these trends, at least until the liberalisation of 1991. Today Indian democracy remains threatened by powerful groups, the Hindus and the lower castes who, in the name of "majority rights", seek to take power and keep it once and for all. This would amount to ousting minorities from the decision-making process

One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.

Raymond Benhaïm, Youssef Courbage et Rémy Leveau

By concentrating on heavy trends within a medium to long term framework, these papers are an attempt to break with the alarmist interpretations which characterize most analyses of events in Nonh Africa. 
On a demographic level, Youssef Courbage shows how emigration to Europe has had a profound influence on the pace of demographic transition in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In this area these countries already constitute a coherent regional entity. 
In his analysis of economic prospects, Raymond Benhaïm also discerns a logic of integration in spite of the fact that each of the North African countries today favours its bilateral relations with Europe. It is, in fact, in the European interest that these countries become a unified North African market. 
Finally on a political level Rémy Leveau examines the new types of political behaviour of both those who govern and those governed. These forms of behaviour are emerging at a time of social disillusion, and when the urbanised and educated social strata claim to have their say in the organizing of society. Neither the states nor the islamic movements can achieve total victory: in the end a compromise solution should thus prevail. However for this to occur each party will need to give up its reductionist view of the adversary. External parties will need to consider other solutions than providing unconditional aid - against a so-called "green peril" - to those in power, all too prone to refuse the control of those they govem