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Collective Dreams Cover

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Collective Dreams

Political Imagination and Community

Keally D. McBride

How do we go about imagining different and better worlds for ourselves? Collective Dreams looks at ideals of community, frequently embraced as the basis for reform across the political spectrum, as the predominant form of political imagination in America today. Examining how these ideals circulate without having much real impact on social change provides an opportunity to explore the difficulties of practicing critical theory in a capitalist society. Different chapters investigate how ideals of community intersect with conceptions of self and identity, family, the public sphere and civil society, and the state, situating community at the core of the most contested political and social arenas of our time. Ideals of community also influence how we evaluate, choose, and build the spaces in which we live, as the author’s investigations of Celebration, Florida, and of West Philadelphia show. Following in the tradition of Walter Benjamin, Keally McBride reveals how consumer culture affects our collective experience of community as well as our ability to imagine alternative political and social orders. Taking ideals of community as a case study, Collective Dreams also explores the structure and function of political imagination to answer the following questions: What do these oppositional ideals reveal about our current political and social experiences? How is the way we imagine alternative communities nonetheless influenced by capitalism, liberalism, and individualism? How can these ideals of community be used more effectively to create social change?

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The Color Revolutions

By Lincoln A. Mitchell

From late 2003 through mid-2005, a series of peaceful street protests toppled corrupt and undemocratic regimes in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan and ushered in the election of new presidents in all three nations. These movements—collectively known as the Color Revolutions—were greeted in the West as democratic breakthroughs that might thoroughly reshape the political terrain of the former Soviet Union.

But as Lincoln A. Mitchell explains in The Color Revolutions, it has since become clear that these protests were as much reflections of continuity as they were moments of radical change. Not only did these movements do little to spur democratic change in other post-Soviet states, but their impact on Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan themselves was quite different from what was initially expected. In fact, Mitchell suggests, the Color Revolutions are best understood as phases in each nation's long post-Communist transition: significant events, to be sure, but far short of true revolutions.

The Color Revolutions explores the causes and consequences of all three Color Revolutions—the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan—identifying both common themes and national variations. Mitchell's analysis also addresses the role of American democracy promotion programs, the responses of nondemocratic regimes to the Color Revolutions, the impact of these events on U.S.-Russian relations, and the failed "revolutions" in Azerbaijan and Belarus in 2005 and 2006.

At a time when the Arab Spring has raised hopes for democratic development in the Middle East, Mitchell's account of the Color Revolutions serves as a valuable reminder of the dangers of confusing dramatic moments with lasting democratic breakthroughs.

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The Concept of Human Rights in Africa

Hitherto the human rights debate in Africa has concentrated on the legal and philosophical. The author, Professor of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, here moves the debate to the social and political planes. He attempts to reconceptualise human rights ideology from the standpoint of the working people in Africa. He defines the approach as avoiding the pitfalls of the liberal perspective as being absolutist in viewing human rights as a central question and the rights struggle as the backbone of democratic struggles. The author maintains that such a study cannot be politically neutral or intellectually uncommitted. Both the critique of dominant discourse and the reconceptualisation are located within the current social science and jurisprudential debates.

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Condorcet

Writings on the United States

Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Guillaume Ansart

Condorcet (1743–1794) was the last of the great eighteenth-century French philosophes and one of the most fervent américanistes of his time. A friend of Franklin, Jefferson, and Paine and a member of the American Philosophical Society, he was well informed and enthusiastic about the American Revolution. Condorcet’s writings on the American Revolution, the Federal Constitution, and the new political culture emerging in the United States constitute milestones in the history of French political thought and of French attitudes toward the United States. These remarkable texts, however, have not been available in modern editions or translations. This book presents first or new translations of all of Condorcet’s major writings on the United States, including an essay on the impact of the American Revolution on Europe; a commentary on the Federal Constitution, the first such commentary to be published in the Old World; and his Eulogy of Franklin, in which Condorcet paints a vivid picture of his recently deceased friend as the archetype of the new American man: self-made, practical, talented but modest, tolerant and free of prejudice—the embodiment of reason, common sense, and the liberal values of the Enlightenment.

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Conflict and Compliance

State Responses to International Human Rights Pressure

By Sonia Cardenas

International human rights pressure has been applied to numerous states with varying results. In Conflict and Compliance, Sonia Cardenas examines responses to such pressure and challenges conventional views of the reasons states do—or do not—comply with international law. Data from disparate bodies of research suggest that more pressure to comply with human rights standards is not necessarily more effective and that international policies are more efficient when they target the root causes of state oppression.

Cardenas surveys a broad array of evidence to support these conclusions, including Latin American cases that incorporate recent important declassified materials, a statistical analysis of all the countries in the world, and a set of secondary cases from Eastern Europe, South Africa, China, and Cuba. The views of human rights skeptics and optimists are surveyed to illustrate how state rhetoric and behavior can be interpreted differently depending on one's perspective.

Theoretically and methodologically sophisticated, Conflict and Compliance paints a new picture of the complex dynamics at work when states face competing pressures to comply with and violate international human rights norms.

Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China Cover

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Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China

Chinese and Canadian Perspectives

Edited by Errol P. Mendes and Sakunthala Srighanthan

Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China focuses on the most challenging areas of discrimination and inequality in China, including discrimination faced by HIV/AIDS afflicted individuals, rural populations, migrant workers, women, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. The Canadian contributors offer rich regional, national, and international perspectives on how constitutions, laws, policies, and practices, both in Canada and in other parts of the world, battle discrimination and the conflicts that rise out of it. The Chinese contributors include some of the most independent-minded scholars and practitioners in China. Their assessments of the challenges facing China in the areas of discrimination and inequality not only attest to their personal courage and intellectual freedom but also add an important perspective on this emerging superpower.

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Confronting Poverty

Weak States and U.S. National Security

edited by Susan E. Rice, Corinne Graff, and Carlos Pascual

Former Brookings Senior Fellow Susan E. Rice spearheads an investigation of the connections between poverty and fragile states and the implications for American security. Coedited by Rice and former Brookings colleagues Corinne Graff and Carlos Pascual, Confronting Poverty is a timely reminder that alleviating global poverty and shoring up weak states are not only humanitarian and economic imperatives, but key components of a more balanced and sustainable U.S. national security strategy.

Rice elucidates the relationship between poverty, state weakness, and transnational security threats, and Graff and Pascual offer policy recommendations. The book's overarching conclusions highlight the need to invest in poverty alleviation and capacity building in weak states in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty, fragility, and transnational threats.

Confronting Poverty grows out of a project on global poverty and U.S. national security that Rice directed at Brookings from 2002 through January 2009, before she became U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.

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Constitutional Democracy

By Janos Kis

Constitutional Democracy addresses the widely held belief that liberal democracy embodies an uneasy compromise of incompatible values: those of liberal rights on the one hand, and democratic equality on the other. Liberalism is said to compromise democracy, while democracy is said to endanger the values of liberalism. It is these theses that János Kis examines and tries to refute. Making the assumption that the alleged conflict is to be resolved at the level of institutions, he outlines a new theory of constitutional democracy. A wide range of problems encountered in constitutional democracy are discussed, such as the popular vote, popular sovereignty, and non-elected justices. The volume is composed of three parts. Part One, "Public Good and Civic Virtue", revisits the debate between liberals and democrats on how to interpret the democratic vote. In Part Two, "Liberal Democracy", the author proves that on the level of principles there is no incompatibility between liberalism and democracy and that liberal theory can demonstrate that democratic values follow from fundamental liberal values. In Part Three, "Constitutional Adjudication in a Democracy", the compatibility of democracy and judicial or constitutional review is analyzed and a theory of constitutionalism is outlined.

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Court of Remorse

Inside the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Thierry Cruvellier

When genocidal violence gripped Rwanda in 1994, the international community recoiled, hastily withdrawing its peacekeepers. Late that year, in an effort to redeem itself, the United Nations Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to seek accountability for some of the worst atrocities since World War II: the genocide suffered by the Tutsi and crimes against humanity suffered by the Hutu. But faced with competing claims, the prosecution focused exclusively on the crimes of Hutu extremists. No charges would be brought against the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, which ultimately won control of the country. The UN, as if racked by guilt for its past inaction, gave in to pressure by Rwanda’s new leadership. With the Hutu effectively silenced, and the RPF constantly reminding the international community of its failure to protect the Tutsi during the war, the Tribunal pursued an unusual form of one-sided justice, born out of contrition.  
    Fascinated by the Tribunal’s rich complexities, journalist Thierry Cruvellier came back day after day to watch the proceedings, spending more time there than any other outside observer. Gradually he gained the confidence of the victims, defendants, lawyers, and judges. Drawing on interviews with these protagonists and his close observations of their interactions, Cruvellier takes readers inside the courtroom to witness the motivations, mechanisms, and manipulations of justice as it unfolded on the stage of high-stakes, global politics. It is this ground-level view that makes his account so valuable—and so absorbing. A must-read for those who want to understand the dynamics of international criminal tribunals, Court of Remorse reveals both the possibilities and the challenges of prosecuting human rights violations.

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Creating Human Rights

How Noncitizens Made Sex Persecution Matter to the World

By Lisa S. Alfredson

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009

Creating Human Rights offers the first systematic study of a pioneering women's refugee movement and its challenge, as an international trigger case, to more conventional paths toward human rights policy development. Lisa S. Alfredson argues that such cases, which unfold in the context of a specific country and have profound impacts on international human rights efforts, have been neglected in research and pose a challenge to recent theorizing on human rights change.

In the early 1990s, Canada witnessed the emergence of the world's first comprehensive refugee policy for women who were seeking protection from female-specific forms of violence—rape, domestic abuse, public stoning of adulterers, genital mutilation—while challenging a gender-biased system. Close examination of this novel movement, Alfredson contends, provides crucial insights into why and how states may articulate new human rights that set international precedents.

Analyzing original empirical data and sociopolitical historical trends, the book documents the decisive global impacts of the movement while shedding light on the paradox of noncitizen politics and asylum seekers' little recognized political strength. Contrary to expectation, findings suggest transnational networks and pressures are not required for some forms of change. Rather, international trigger cases illuminate a range of other key actors and advocacy strategies leading, subsequently, to a more comprehensive understanding of human rights acceptance.

In the case of the women's refugee movement, the convergence of human rights and noncitizen politics points toward a new dimension for human rights scholarship that, in the current age of globalization, is becoming critically important.

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