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Dissonances Cover

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Dissonances

Democratic Critiques of Democracy

Guillermo O'Donnell

Guillermo O'Donnell here brings together a collection of significant recent essays in which he considers both the method for and substance of critiques of democracies. While progress has been made in democratization, the authoritarian legacy hangs as a shadow over that advancement. O'Donnell engages in his analysis while keeping a firm gaze on that dangerous past. O'Donnell's work has influenced a generation of political scientists. The essays in this volume bring forward and develop many of the ideas presented in his earlier collection, Counterpoints: Selected Essays on Authoritarianism and Democracy. This work will be of interest to scholars working in justice reform, democratization, and comparative politics.

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The Divided World

Human Rights and Its Violence

Randall Williams

Taking a critical view of a venerated international principle, Randall Williams shows how the concept of human rights—often taken for granted as a force for good in the world—corresponds directly with U.S. imperialist aims. Citing internationalists from W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon to, more recently, M. Jacqui Alexander and China Miéville, Williams insists on a reckoning of human rights with the violence of colonial modernity.
 
Despite the emphasis on international human rights since World War II, Williams notes that the discourse of human rights has consistently reinforced the concerns of the ascendant global power of the United States. He demonstrates how the alignment of human rights with the interests of U.S. expansion is not a matter of direct control or conspiratorial plot but the result of a developing human rights consensus that has been shaped by postwar international institutions and debates, from the United Nations to international law. Williams probes high-profile cases involving Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Abu Ghraib, and Guantánamo, as well as offering readings of works such as Hotel Rwanda, Caché, and Death and the Maiden that have put forth radical critiques of political violence.
 
The most forceful contradictions of international human rights discourse, he argues, come into relief within anticolonial critiques of racial violence. To this end, The Divided World examines how a human rights–based international policy is ultimately mobilized to manage violence—by limiting the access of its victims to justice.

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Dividing Lines

Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma

Written by J. Mills Thornton

A landmark book on the struggle for racial equality in America.
 
With this bold offering from two decades of research, J. Mills Thornton III presents the story of the civil rights movement from the perspective of community-municipal history at the grassroots level. Thornton demonstrates that the movement had powerful local sources in its three birth cities--Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma.  There, the arcane mechanisms of state and city governance and the missteps of municipal politicians and civic leaders--independent of emerging national trends in racial mores--led to the great swell of energy for change that became the civil rights movement.
 

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Drift and Mastery

Walter Lippmann

Drift and Mastery, originally published in 1914, is one of the most important and influential documents of the Progressive Movement, a valuable text for understanding the political thought of early twentieth-century America. This paperback edition of Walter Lippmann's classic work includes a revised introduction by William E. Leuchtenburg that places the book in its historical and political contexts.
    In his first book, A Preface to Politics, Lippmann was sharply critical of traditionalism in favor of creativity—so much so that he was accused of anti-intellectualism. In Drift and Mastery, he corrected this imbalance, exploring the tensions between expansion and consolidation, traditionalism an progressivism, emotion and rationality. He wrote to convince readers that they could balance these tensions: they could be organized, efficient, and functional without sacrificing impulse, choice, fantasy, or liberty. Mastery is attainable, Lippmann argued, but scientific endeavor is driven by human curiosity and creativity—an argument in favor of science as both a method as both a method for discovering the truth and a means of wish fulfillment through diligent attention to facts.
    Drift and Mastery is both a telling product of its times and a lucid exploration of timeless themes in American government and politics. It will continue to serve new generations of scholars and students in American intellectual history, mass communications, and political science.

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Early Greek Law

Michael Gagarin

Drawing on the evidence of anthropology as well as ancient literature and inscriptions, Gagarin examines the emergence of law in Greece from the 8th through the 6th centuries B.C., that is, from the oral culture of Homer and Hesiod to the written enactment of codes of law in most major cities.

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Early Modern Concepts for a Late Modern World

Althusius on Community and Federalism

Who was Althusius, and why is the work of a seventeenth- century political theorist important in modern times?

Johannes Althusius (1557-1638) was a political theorist and a combative city politician who defended the rights of small communities against territorial absolutism. He designed a system of politics in which sovereignty would be shared and jointly exercised by a plurality of collectivities, spatial as well as social, on the basis of mutual consent and social solidarity.

Early Modern Concepts for a Late Modern World places Althusius in the context of his times and explains the main features of his political thought. It also suggests, perhaps most significantly, why his theories continue to resonate today. Hueglin’s use of sources is thorough and scrupulous. He has worked in depth in Germanic scholarship and this access to German-language sources, some of which are almost unknown to the English-speaking world, provides a new interpretation of Althusius’ theory.

With its emphasis on pluralized governance, negotiated compromise instead of majority rule, and the inclusion of the economic sphere into the political, Althusius’ theory belongs to a countertradition in Western political thought. Although it was written at the beginning of the modern age of sovereign politics, it applies to today’s search for a post-sovereign system of politics.

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Earthly Plenitudes: A Study on Sovereignty and Labor

A fierce critique of productivity and sovereignty in the world of labor and everyday life, Bruno Gullì’s Earthly Plenitudes asks, can labor exist without sovereignty and without capitalism? He introduces the concept of dignity of individuation to prompt a rethinking of categories of political ontology. Dignity of individuation stresses the notion that the dignity of each and any individual being lies in its being individuated as such; dignity is the irreducible and most essential character of any being. Singularity is a more universal quality.

Gullì first reviews approaches to sovereignty by philosophers as varied as Gottfried Leibniz and Georges Bataille, and then looks at concrete examples where the alliance of sovereignty and capital cracks under the potency of living labor. He examines contingent academic labor as an example of the super-exploitation of labor, which has become a global phenomenon, and as such, a clear threat to the sovereign logic of capital. Gullì also looks at disability to assert that a new measure of humanity can only be found outside the schemes of sovereignty, productivity, efficiency, and independence, through care and caring for others, in solidarity and interdependence.

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Eating Anxiety

The Perils of Food Politics

Chad Lavin


Debates about obesity are really about the meaning of responsibility. The trend toward local foods reflects the changing nature of space due to new communication technologies. Vegetarian theory capitalizes on biotechnology’s challenge to the meaning of species. And food politics, as this book makes powerfully clear, is actually about the political anxieties surrounding globalization.


In Eating Anxiety, Chad Lavin argues that our culture’s obsession with diet, obesity, meat, and local foods enacts ideological and biopolitical responses to perceived threats to both individual and national sovereignty. Using the occasion of eating to examine assumptions about identity, objectivity, and sovereignty that underwrite so much political order, Lavin explains how food functions to help structure popular and philosophical understandings of the world and the place of humans within it. He introduces the concept of digestive subjectivity and shows how this offers valuable resources for rethinking cherished political ideals surrounding knowledge, democracy, and power.


Exploring discourses of food politics, Eating Anxiety links the concerns of food—especially issues of sustainability, public health, and inequality—to the evolution of the world order and the possibilities for democratic rule. It forces us to question the significance of consumerist politics and—simultaneously—the relationship between politics and ethics, public and private.


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Empathy and Democracy

Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation

Michael E. Morrell

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Endless Empire

Spain's Retreat, Europe's Eclipse, America's Decline

Edited by Alfred W. McCoy, Josep M. Fradera, and Stephen Jacobson

Throughout four millennia of recorded history there has been no end to empire, but instead an endless succession of empires. After five centuries of sustained expansion, the half-dozen European powers that ruled half of humanity collapsed with stunning speed after World War II, creating a hundred emerging nations in Asia and Africa. Amid this imperial transition, the United States became the new global hegemon, dominating this world order with an array of power that closely resembled that of its European predecessors. As Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the European Union now rise in global influence, twenty leading historians from four continents take a timely look backward and forward to discover patterns of eclipse in past empires that are already shaping a decline in U.S. global power, including:• erosion of economic and fiscal strength needed for military power on a global scale• misuse of military power through micro-military misadventures• breakdown of alliances among major powers• weakened controls over the subordinate elites critical for any empire’s exercise of global power• insufficient technological innovation to sustain global force projection.

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