Elke Zuern

AB, Colgate University. MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. Research interests include social movements in new democracies, popular responses to poverty and inequality, violence in democratization processes, reparations, collective memory, memorials and reconciliation. Regional specialization: sub-Saharan Africa, with extensive fieldwork in South Africa and Namibia. Author of The Politics of Necessity: Community Organizing and Democracy in South Africa (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). Recipient of a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Amherst College and a Lowenstein fellowship. Former Van Zyl Slabbert Chair at the University of Cape Town and Visiting Scholar at the University of Johannesburg. Articles published in DemocratizationComparative Politics, African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, Politique Africaine, Transformation, and African Studies Review, among others. For more information: http://slc.academia.edu/ElkeZuern. SLC, 2002–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Politics

African Politics

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to African politics, challenging common assumptions and misunderstandings of the continent. We will investigate persistent political institutions, as well as mechanisms of political and economic change. Key questions include: How are postcolonial African states distinctive from other postcolonial states? How do the politics of patronage, prevalent in many African states and societies, affect processes of political and economic change such as democratization and the implementation of structural adjustment and poverty alleviation programs? What role have external influences, from colonialism to current forms of European and North American influence, played on the continent? What impact has China's rising role (alongside other Asian states) had? What choices and trade-offs have Africa's postcolonial leaders and citizens faced? This course will not investigate the experiences of all African states but will address these questions by drawing upon the experiences of a few countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. The course will begin with an in-depth analysis of the colonial experience, decolonization, and the legacy of colonialism. We will then move on to address key questions regarding postcolonial governance, concerning the nature of the postcolonial African state, the role of violence in governance, the nature of popular demands for democracy, and popular rebellion and elite resistance. The final section will build upon the first two by investigating approaches to, and ideals of, economic development, including structural reforms, aid, trade, debt, private investment, and social programs in order to unearth the contradictions and promises of these processes.

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Democracy and the Market

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

Prior coursework in the social sciences is required.

This yearlong seminar will address the question of how liberal democracy and market capitalism reinforce and contradict one another. It will also explore alternative ideals. We will begin with the seemingly timeless debate concerning modernization and consider the lessons of past successful, state-led growth strategies without democracy. This brings us to the question as to whether such state-led strategies, with or without democracy, are still possible in the post-Cold War era in light of the so-called Washington—and now post-Washington—consensus. To understand the challenges that individual states face, we investigate the wave of democratization that occurred from the late 1980s and the ways in which economic conditions and economic policy contributed to the pressure for change and limited possible outcomes. We will also consider the role of social movements in pressing for change and the discrepancies between what many people mobilized for and the results of regime change. This leads us to consider inequality in both the political and economic realm and the interaction between the two. Corruption forms another key challenge that is often highlighted or ignored for ideological and partisan reasons. We will approach corruption debates from a number of disciplinary perspectives to assess what is really at stake. Finally, the course will investigate a wide range of country case studies, transnational movements, and international actors (IOs, INGOs, donors) and consider both their defense of liberal ideals and the alternatives that they offer.

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Previous Courses

State Terror and Terrorism

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Prior coursework in the social sciences and/or related disciplines required.

The events of September 11, 2001, unleashed a bitter and contentious debate regarding not just how states and societies might best respond to the threat of violence but also, fundamentally, what qualifies as terrorism. Just nine days later, and without resolving any of these difficult issues, the US announced its response: The Global War on Terrorism. In 15 years, we are no closer to consensus concerning these politically and emotionally charged debates. This course will investigate the use of violence by state and nonstate actors to assert their authority and to inspire fear. The modern state, as it was formed in Western Europe, was born of war. In Charles Tilly’s often-quoted phrase: “War makes states, and states make war.” The ability to control violence within a territory has long been a key part of the definition of a functioning state. The presence of armed groups on a state’s territory, which the state does not or cannot effectively control, is therefore a direct challenge to a state’s authority and has the potential to undermine its recognition as an international actor. After briefly discussing the historical development of modern states, we will investigate the evolution of the terminology of terror and terrorism from the French Revolution to today. We will explore acts of state terror and their consequences from Nazi Germany, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and Chile under Pinochet to present-day examples. We will consider the use of the term ”terrorism” in the popular press, in political rhetoric, and in policy making by states and international organizations. And finally, we will investigate a number of nonstate actors that employed violence—including South Africa’s ANC, Sri Lanka’s LTTE and Al Qaeda, among others—and consider the impact this had both for their popular support and for the local and transnational communities impacted by their struggle.

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African Politics

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to African politics, challenging common assumptions and misunderstandings of the continent. We will investigate persistent political institutions, as well as mechanisms of political and economic change. Key questions include: How are postcolonial African states distinctive from other postcolonial states? How do the politics of patronage, prevalent in many African states and societies, affect processes of political and economic change such as democratization and the implementation of structural adjustment and poverty alleviation programs? What role have external influences, from colonialism to current forms of European and North American influence, played on the continent? What impact has China’s rising role (alongside other Asian states) had? What choices and trade-offs have Africa’s postcolonial leaders and citizens faced? This course will not investigate the experiences of all African states but will address these questions by drawing upon the experiences of a few countries: Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, and South Africa. We will begin with an in-depth analysis of the colonial experience, decolonization, and the state of affairs in the early postcolonial period. Key thematic questions will be addressed concerning the nature of the postcolonial African state; the relevance of identities along ethnic, class, religious, and gender lines; and patterns of state-society engagement. The second section will build upon the first by investigating processes of political liberalization/democratization and economic development to unearth the contradictions and promises of these processes.

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Responding to Ebola–An International Relations and State-Based Perspective

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: prior relevant course work in the social sciences and related disciplines. Relevant coursework includes, but is not limited to, courses addressing global development debates in economics, geography, sociology, politics, and anthropology; courses on global health; courses on African societies and histories; and courses in post-colonial thought. Relevant coursework includes, but is not limited to, courses addressing global development debates in economics, geography, sociology, politics, and anthropology; courses on global health; courses on African societies and histories; and courses in post-colonial thought. Relevant course work includes, but is not limited to, courses addressing global development debates in economics, geography, sociology, politics, and anthropology; courses on global health; courses on African societies and histories; and courses in postcolonial thought.

This course will employ analyses from the social sciences to understand the spread of Ebola and the local and international responses to it, as well as the impact of those responses. This is an ongoing epidemic that attracted significant attention only in mid-2014. As a result, much of our analysis will be based on learning from past experiences and using them to understand the present. The key themes to be explored include: media representations of the outbreak; the contributions of critical postcolonial thought; the position of African states in the international system; the impact of colonialism on state formation in West Africa; the distinctive features of the Nigerian and Liberian states; challenges of state rebuilding after civil war; distrust of the state and the West; the securitization of epidemics; the role of patents and local politics; and the impact of NGOs, IOs, African regional organizations, and the US military in the region. There are no easy answers, and this course does not seek to provide them. It will, however, demonstrate the reasons behind the relative success in fighting the epidemic in Nigeria in contrast to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most crucially, it will present a roadmap for critical thinking about the political, economic, and social implications of epidemics.

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