12012 Africa Between Democracy and Dictatorship 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Democracy Studies / Society and Politics

Prerequisites: Democracy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Israeli Democracy: Selected Issues, Contemporary Democratic Theories; one of the following: Democracy and Democratization, Selected Problems in the History of Western Democracies, Education Policy: Education for Democracy in Democratic Societies, Democracy and Mass Communication,2 Selected Topics in Public Administration; and exemption from bibliographic assignments on computer searches in the “Alef” catalog and databases.

The course is based on readers edited by Benyamin Neuberger.

Some 50 years after their independence, African states are still dealing with fundamental issues such as borders, national identity and the political system. In contrast with more established countries in other parts of the world, the very survival of these countries is in doubt. The course follows the attempts of African countries, fluctuating between democracy and dictatorship, to ensure their existence and to consolidate political systems that suit the unique circumstances of their founding and their many internal and external problems.

Many African countries experienced two attempts at democratization – in the 1960s, with their release from colonial rule, and again in the last decade of the 20th century. Why did the first attempt fail to produce democratic regimes, and what kinds of regimes were created in their stead? In light of their severe problems and their authoritarian colonial heritage, how should the current democratization process be viewed? To what extent is it an expression of external dictates or of internal pressures from below?

Topics: The crisis of the African country; The authoritarian heritage of regimes in Africa; The reasons for liberalization and democratization processes; The complex relationship between the state and civil society; Ethnicity and democratization – opportunity or danger?; International involvement in democratization processes – asset or liability?; The twisting path of democracy in Africa – a view from the beginning of the 21st century; Democracy in Africa – is it the solution or the problem (or part of it)?

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.

2or Liberalism: Texts, Contexts, Critiques (12005), for students who took it as a required course in the Culture specialization before Spring 2010.