Christophe Jaffrelot et Nicolas Belorgey

In 2009, India embarked on a scheme for the biometric identification of its people. This project was conceived by IT companies based in Bengaluru. The programme’s main architect, Nandan Nilekani, was in fact the head of one of these firms. The idea behind the project was to use digital technology – and the data it enables to collect – for economic ends. But to register the entire Indian population, the State had to be persuaded to be involved in the project, later named as "Aadhaar". The rationale that secured the government’s engagement was financial: using Aadhaar would help disburse aid to the poor while minimising the "leakages" caused by corruption and duplicates among beneficiaries. Yet, possessing an Aadhaar number gradually became necessary for a number of other things, too, including tax payment. When approached to rule on this matter, the Supreme Court dragged its feet and did not seek to decisively protect people’s privacy. As for the avowed aim of the scheme itself, Aadhaar did not improve the quality of the services rendered to the poor – far from it – and its economic impact, too, remains to be proven, even if operators who believe that "data is the new oil" consider benefits in a long term perspective.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

One of the most striking phenomena of China’s recent history is the singular life trajectory of the generation born in large metropolises between the end of the 1940s and the early 1950s. After having endured with full force their country’s upheavals and ruptures after 1949, the people of this generation occupy dominant positions in most sectors of social life today. Yet despite its importance, the history of this generation—who contributed to build what China is today—has not triggered much academic research. The seven life stories presented in this study provide information and a testimony that help understand how these people elaborate a discourse on their personal experience. Analysing this discourse makes it possible to grasp the connections between individual life paths and events as well as social determinations.

Anne de Tinguy (dir.)

Looking into Eurasia : the year in politics provides some keys to understand the events and phenomena that have left their imprint on a region that has undergone major mutation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991: the post-soviet space. With a cross-cutting approach that is no way claims to be exhaustive, this study seeks to identify the key drivers, the regional dynamics and the underlying issues at stake

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.

Suhas Palshikar with CSDS Team

Jean-François Bayart

The concept of "Thermidorian situation" finds itself in the tradition of the "authoritarian situation" (Guy Hermet) and "colonial situation" (Georges Balandier). It accounts for historical experiences of postrevolutionary regimes and their economic liberalization in the context of neo-liberal globalization. Developed from the Cambodian case, the Thermidorian comparative paradigm helps to interpret the economical and political liberalization processes in post-communist states and the establishment of their revolutionary elite into a dominating class. This interpretation does not refer to the normative and teleological terms of "transitology". Nevertheless, understanding the Thermidorian moment implies that it should not be reduced to a mere preservation of power, as an utilitarian reading of the events would imply. Indeed, it has to deal with autonomous social dynamics. Other types of post-revolutionary trajectories that are non-socialist, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, can serve as good examples of this phenomenon. The Thermidorian paradigm takes into account a plurality of relatively homogeneous trajectories that combine into a revolutionary event, a process of institutionalization and professionalization of the latter, and of a dynamic of integration into the capitalist world economy. This concept cannot stand for an explanation, but emphasizes the specificity of the regimes that stem from a revolution and that are confronted to their own reproduction within the context of the dismantling of the socialist camp and neoliberal globalization. "Thermidorisms" have their own historicity, notably the revolution they arose from. They also have their own political economy that cannot be reduced to the imposition of the neo-liberal model. Thermidorian moments are historical experiences subjected to contingency vagaries and social struggles. As such, they are "situations" (Jean-Paul Sartre) in which the reproduction of power and liberty of actors are simultaneously at stake.

Boris Samuel

In 2004 the government of Mauritania admitted that for the past ten years its national macroeconomic and financial data had been falsified. This admission revealed a small part of the fraudulent practices that took place during the Taya era which ended in 2005. But it also showed that the economic management of this "good student" had become ensnared in true "bureaucratic anarchy". Beginning in 2005, when the democratic transition should have enabled the public administration's house to be put in order, reforms were often motivated by a desire to improve the image of the regime and were thus less than effective. Then, following the elections of 2007, and in the midst of financial scandals, the government developed a technocratic approach which alienated the Mauritanian public who perceived a power vacuum. A new coup d'etat occurred during the summer of 2008. The "Rectification Movement" of general Abdel Aziz acquired legitimacy as a result of its fight against terrorism in Sahel. Employing populist rhetoric and adopting the moral high ground in the fight against rampant corruption, the Movement favored lax management of resources and tight, even authoritarian, control of public finances.

The Darfur crisis has shed light on unresolved crises at its borders in Chad and the Central African Republic. What these various conflicts most have in common is probably the existence of transnational armed movements that endure and reorganize in the fringes created by state dynamics in the region as well as the aporias of the international community’s conflict-resolution policies doubled by the choices of certain major powers. An analysis of the situation in the Central African Republic and the history of certain armed movements active in this regional space argues in favor of a less conventional approach to crisis-solving strategies. It points up a zone centered on the Central African Republic and its borders with neighboring countries as the real site for the analysis of armed factionalism since the wave of independence and the specific trajectories of state-building.

Bayram Balci

Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is the theater of an Islamic revival in the public sphere, a direct consequence of exiting from the empire and achieving independence, which involved the rehabilitation of religion, even the integration of Islam in a new national identitarian policy. Azerbaijan stands out from the rest of the former USSR by the fact that it is the most secularized Muslim country due to its early entrance into Russia’s bosom and the fact that it was long the ground for an ideological clash between the Shiite Persian Empires and the Sunni Ottoman Empire. It is through the convergence of internal factors – a preserved Islam despite the anti-religious Soviet policy – and external factors – the influence of neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world – that Azerbaijani Islam has been reconfigured since the end of the communist era. Eager to preserve the country’s secularity – the pride of the elites – and to ensure that the religious revival does not turn into a source of tension between the two essential components of its population (Shiites and Sunnis), the state has – with difficulty and sometimes a lack of subtlety – set up a religious policy that is far from receiving general approval. However, even if its handling of Islam is disputed, the Azerbaijan government controls the religious phenomenon through a policy that alternates between tolerance and repression.

Since the war began in 2002, an unprecedented social movement has taken hold in the Ivory Coast, the "Patriotic Youth," that rallies around a violent ultranationalist and anti-colonialist discourse. Supported by mass organizations that control the urban areas, the Patriotic Youth have become central political actors and a shock weapon used by the government in power. While acknowledging this political instrumentalization, the Etude goes beyond functionalist interpretations of the Patriotic Youth phenomenon in attempt to grasp the driving sociological forces and assess their scope. Based on unpublished surveys conducted in Abidjan among grassroots activists of the "Patriotic galaxy," it demonstrates that also at stake in this grand nationalist fervor is the emergence of a new political generation, involving FESCI student unionism, which today makes violent claims to rights and social recognition. In this hypothesis, the anti-colonialist register is used as a vocabulary expressing generational revolution and emancipation of a fraction of the youth that has experimented with violence in union struggles and in war. It concludes by examining the influence of this phenomenon with regard to a possible resolution of the crisis. Beyond its institutional dimensions, the Ouagadougou accord paves the way for a change of political generation, the "Fescists" – both patriots and rebels – who have managed to impose themselves on the heirs of Houphouetism.

The international community analyzed the crisis in Somalia in light of its own interests rather than the reality of the country. After having failed to work out a true reconciliation government between 2002 and 2004, western countries went about keeping alive a government that had no real legitimacy, but backed by Ethiopia and Kenya. The emergence of the Islamic Courts in June 2006 reshuffled the cards. More than the radicalization of the Islamic Courts, two arguments finally determined Somalia’s fate and the rekindling of war there. Ethiopia couldn’t stand to see an autonomous power friendly to Eritrea appear on its southern flank. And the United States wanted to signal the absolute predominance of its fight against terrorism over any other consideration. Such a posture provided the opportunity to try out a new security doctrine giving the Pentagon ascendancy over the pursuit of alleged terrorists, co-opting new regional powers on the African continent in the process, given that most of its European allies once again proved particularly limp in the face of yet another militarist drift on the part of Washington. Incapable of occupying the political space, the transitional Somalian government encouraged radicalization. The specter of an Iraq-style conflict in Africa began to loom with Ethiopia’s shaky victory in January 2007.

Ioulia Shukan

Since the Orange Revolution in autumn 2004 which brought the formal political opposition to power behind the candidacy of Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine has been undergoing another transition phase. Change is certainly perceptible on several levels, but the economic and political legacy left by the authoritarian regime of Leonid Kuchma continues to weigh on politics in the country. By adopting a combined approach involving a sociology of the actors and an institutional analysis we assess these changes with respect two key issues: the delinking of political power and economic interests and the constitutional reform. The attitude of the Orange governing team with regard to oligarchic power has changed considerably, moving from the threat of expropriation by re-privatization to the acknowledgment of their importance in the national economy. In reviewing the terms of the constitutional reform, it becomes clear that although such reform was made possible by an unprecedented sharing of political power at the highest state level, between a President and a Prime Minister of opposite political bents, it has nevertheless encountered considerable obstacles to its implementation, due to conflicting interpretations and disagreement between the heads of state and government as to the redefinition of their respective roles. These transformations result in a recurrent modification of the rules of the political game and are likely to jeopardize the progress made on the path to democratization.

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.

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