CFP: [Cultural-Historical] The Secret History of Democracy

full name / name of organization: 
Benjamin Isakhan

The Secret History of Democracy

- Edited by Benjamin Isakhan and Stephen Stockwell -

Call for Chapter Proposals:

This is a call for chapter proposals for the tentatively entitled The
Secret History of Democracy, a book to be edited by Benjamin Isakhan and
Stephen Stockwell.

Throughout the late twentieth century democracy continued to spread across
much of the globe, bringing with it claims about the Third Wave
(Huntington, 1991) or Global Resurgence (Diamond & Plattner, 1996) of
democracy. As this process has continued into the early twenty-first
century, it is interesting to note the degree to which democracy is
associated with a very specific lineage of events, practices and
movements. Overwhelmingly, the historical narrative of democracy connects
the successes of more recent times to the Greek concept of demokratia and
the Roman Republic, but more directly to the establishment of the British
Parliament, through the American Declaration of Independence and the
French storming of the Bastille. This extraordinary sequence of events has
frequently been invoked by various people’s movements, civil society
groups and pro-democracy advocates across the world. Consider for example
the intriguing paradox recounted by Jack Goody in which citizens of
Burkina Faso (then known as the Upper Volta) protested against French
occupation in the 1950s under banners reading Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
(Goody, 2006: 246). The concern here is that ‘rule by the people’ has come
to signify a relatively exclusive set of political moments and traditions
compared to the broader human experience of struggling against tyranny and
oppression towards collective forms of governance, egalitarian social
movements and inclusive decision-making practices.

This book therefore strives to broaden the historical narrative of
democracy. It hopes to include a collection of historical accounts that
document the development of democratic practices in unexpected and
underexplored quarters. We are interested in everything from the tribal
moots and council meetings of pre-historic societies, to models of
collective governance across the pre-Athenian ancient world; from the
complex deliberative mechanisms of the Islamic empires or the Vikings,
through to the democratic practices of the world’s various indigenous
populations and their long struggle with occupation and colonisation. On
to more recent times, we are interested in the other story of democracy
and the making of the modern world â€" from the Haitian revolution, the
Makhnovist movement in Russia, the mosques of Baghdad, the ‘Saffron
Revolution’ in Burma and the polling booths of Venezuela. We argue that
the spirit of democracy, at various times and in various guises, has been
central to the political histories of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Across each of the continents, through long and complex histories, from
all colours and creeds and despite hubris and bellicosity, there is a
Secret History of Democracy that must be told.

The deadline for abstracts of up to 500 words and a short biography of 100
words (for each author) is 5th January 2009. The first draft of the full 6-
7000 word chapter will be due later in 2009.

For further details please do not hesitate to contact Benjamin Isakhan at:

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Received on Thu Nov 27 2008 - 21:35:36 EST