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.

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.

Anne Gazier

A year after the failed putsch of August 1991, what kind of power system has been established in Russia? This study of changes in local power in five neighbouring regions (Kursk, Lipetsk, Tambov, Voronez, Belgorod) which all belong to the same economic zone throws light on an amazing continuity with the past. New local, ostensibly "democratic" institutions have been set up in the region and "liberal" free market reforms have been introduced. Yet despite these changes power still remains in the hands of the former nomenklatura. Moreover this has occured with the tacit approval and support of the Moscow authorities. Furthermore the way power is exercised harks back to the authoritarian methods and means which characterized the Soviet system

André Grjebine

The author first claims the right to criticize the monetary aspects of the Maastricht agreement without being accused of anti-european nationalism. He wonders whether European construction will be undertaken in such a way as to preserve the synthesis of economic efficiency and social solidarity which has for so long distinguished Western Europe from other parts of the world. After having examined the underlying logic of present policies designed to maintain the twofold objective of monetary stability and competitive deflation, the paper analyses the negative effects of this strategy. It shows that European construction can not be expected to automatically enable a convergence in the member countries' economies for, paradoxically, the contrary, i.e. divergence, is more likely. Having suggested that the Community will be unable to get by without a variety of economic policies, the paper examines the choice available if the twin goals of economic efficiency and social well-being are to be pursued. This choice is, to either speed up the movement towards a single currency coupled with the strengthening of national budgetary policies, or to envisage another kind of process for European construction with preference given to the development of a parallel currency.

Zaki Laïdi

The widely held perception of a growing gap between the US significant political resources (enhanced even further by the collapse of the Soviet Union) and its economic weakening brings up the question of the nature of American power. Did it or did it not change, particularly since 1985, from a hegemonic power, that is a power able to make economic and financial sacrifices in favor of privileged allies, to a predator one, that is an actor maximizing its political resources to have others partially pay for its economic decline? Examining that question essentially from an economic perspective, looking closely at the relations between the US and the newly industrialized countries in Asia and Latin America, Zaki Laïdi concludes that the US, in spite of a much stronger willingness to utilize its power, cannot be defined as a "predator".

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