Democracy in crisis

Violence, alterity, community

By Stella Gaon

Democracy in crisis


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-8477-9738-4
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: July 2013
  • BIC Category: Politics, Trade unions, Political structures: democracy, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy, Economics, finance, business & management / Trade unions, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy
  • Series: Perspectives on Democratic Practice


This volume explores the political implications of violence and alterity (radical difference) for the practice of democracy, and reformulates the possibility of community that democracy is said to entail. Most significantly, contributors intervene in traditional democratic theory by boldly contesting the widely-held assumption that increased inclusion, tolerance and cultural recognition are democracy's sufficient conditions. Rather than simply inquiring how best to expand the 'demos', they investigate how claims to self-determination, identity and sovereignty are a problem for democracy and how, paradoxically, alterity may be its greatest strength.

Drawing largely on the Left, continental tradition, contributions include an appeal to the tension between fear and love in the face of anti-Semitism in Poland, injunctions to rethink the identity-difference binary and the ideal of 'mutual recognition' that dominate liberal-democratic thought, critiques of the canonical 'we' that constitutes the democratic community, and a call for an ethics and a politics of 'dissensus' in democratic struggles against racist and sexist oppression. The authors mobilise some of the most powerful critical insights emerging across the social sciences and humanities - from anthropology, sociology, critical legal studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis and critical race theory and post-colonial studies - to reconsider the meaning and the possibility of 'democracy' in the face of its contemporary crisis.

The book will be of direct interest to students and scholars interested in cutting-edge, critical reflection on the empirical phenomenon of increased violence in the West provoked by radical difference, and on theories of radical political change.


Editor's introduction
Part I Alterity as a crisis for democracy
1. 'Don't blame me!' Seriality and the responsibility of voters - Robert Bernasconi
2. Sovereignty, property, and the life world: Democracy's colonization of alterity - Mielle Chandler
3. Narratives of groups that kill other groups - Jacqueline Stevens
4. Technologies of violence and vulnerability - Kelly Oliver
5. The brackets of recognition: Recognition, espionage, camouflage - Elizabeth Povinelli.
6. Humanitarianism and the representation of alterity: the aporias and prospects
of cosmopolitan visuality - Fuyuki Kurasawa
Part II Alterity as a provocation to democracy
7. Alterity as democracy-to-come - Stella Gaon
8. The ends of democracy: who, we? - Catherine Kellogg
9. From fear to democracy: towards a politics of com-passion - Dorota Glowacka
10. Meditations on turning toward violently dead - Sharon Rosenberg
11. Democracy, accountability and disruption - Rita Dhamoon
12. Dissensus, ethics, and the politics of democracy - Ewa Plonowska Ziarek


Stella Gaon is Associate Professor of Political Science at Saint Mary's University in Halifax (Canada).

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