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Why do ethnic politics emerge in some ethnically diverse societies but not others? Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, Dominika Koter argues that the prevailing social structures of a country play a central role in how politicians attempt to mobilize voters. In particular, politicians consider the strength of local leaders, such as chiefs or religious dignitaries, who have historically played a crucial role in many parts of rural Africa. Local leaders can change the electoral dynamics by helping politicians secure votes among people of different ethnicities. Ethnic politics thus can be avoided where there are local leaders who can serve as credible electoral intermediaries between voters and politicians. Koter shows that there is widespread variation in the standing of local leaders across Africa, as a result of long-term historical trends, which has meant that politicians have mobilized voters in qualitatively different ways, resulting in different levels of ethnic politics across the continent.Read more
- Highlights and explains the varying role of ethnicity in African politics and proposes a new theory of ethnic mobilization
- Offers a historically grounded explanation of current electoral dynamics in Africa, using comparative historical analysis
- Sheds light on an understudied factor in electoral politics - the role of local traditional and religious elites
Reviews & endorsements
"Scholars have long recognized the importance of ethnic appeals in African political life. But in this smart and well-argued book, Koter provides an original theory of how existing local social and political structures affect the likelihood that politicians will actually play the "ethnic card". She draws on a rich set of comparative and historical analyses to support her argument, and makes an important scholarly contribution. Beyond Ethnic Politics in Africa will be of interest to students of African politics and of comparative ethnic politics more broadly."
Evan S. Lieberman, Total Professor of Political Science and Contemporary Africa, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySee more reviews
"Dominika Koter asks an important question in this excellent book: why does political mobilization occur along ethnic lines in some African countries but not others? Although social scientists have long studied the consequences of "ethnic politics", few have sought to explain why such identity cleavages become activated in the first place. In a convincing, historically rooted analysis, Koter shows that politicians are more likely to pursue ethnic-based mobilization when traditional authorities and local intermediaries lack the power to shape the electoral behavior of their communities. Beyond Ethnic Politics in Africa offers a welcome contribution that should be read by scholars of ethnicity, clientelism, and democratization."
Leonardo R. Arriola, Associate Professor, Political Science, and Director, Center for African Studies, University of California, Berkeley
'Dominika Koter presents a forceful and convincing argument, which makes an important contribution to the literature. It is shown that electoral mobilization along ethnic lines is not unavoidable, with politicians resorting to ethnic politics only when local leaders in their country cannot act as credible electoral intermediaries. Although more research needs to be conducted to positively assert that this argument can be generalized, Beyond Ethnic Politics in Africa should be essential reading for students and scholars of African politics broadly, and ethnicity, electoral politics and clientelism more specifically.' Athanasios Stathopoulos, Democratization
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- Date Published: October 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107171497
- length: 220 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 156 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.48kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The challenge of winning votes and ethnic politics in Africa
2. A theory of social ties and electoral politics
3. Social structure and its origins
4. Mobilization strategies and electoral outcomes in Senegal and Benin
5. Intermediaries in urban and rural settings
6. Social structure and ethnic politics in Africa and beyond
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