How Western donor assistance can both help and undermine democracy in different parts of the world
Democracy promotion is a central pillar of the foreign policy of many states, but the results are often disappointing. In Promoting Democracy, Manal A. Jamal examines why these efforts succeed in some countries, but fail in others. A former journalist and researcher in the Palestinian territories, she offers an up-close perspective of the ways in which Western donor funding has, on one hand, undermined political participation in cases such as the Palestinian territories, and, on the other hand, succeeded in bolstering political engagement in cases such as El Salvador.
Based on five fieldwork trips and over 150 interviews with grassroots activists, political leaders, and directors and program officers in donor agencies and NGOs, Jamal brings into focus an often-overlooked perspective: the experiences of those directly affected by this assistance. Promoting Democracy makes an important and timely argument about how political settlements ultimately shape democracy promotion efforts, and what political choices Western state sponsored donors can make to maximize successful outcomes in different contexts across the world.
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Manal A. Jamal is Professor of Political Science at James Madison University. She has held research fellowship positions at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and at U.C. Berkeley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
This sophisticated, penetrating, and innovative analysis draws on extensive field research and a firm command of the available literature. It represents a significant contribution to our understanding of why democracy aid succeeds or fails and the often fraught relationship between peacebuilding and democracy support. -- Thomas Carothers,author of Development Aid Confronts Politics: The Almost Revolution Flawless, detailed, and extremely well documented. This will become an instant classic in the list of critical studies on NGOs or civil society, and for political scientists in search of innovative South-South comparative studies. -- Benoit Challand, co-editor of The Struggle for Influence in the Middle East: The Arab Uprisings and Foreign Assistance This book is superb in its quality, thoroughness, and clarity. Manal A. Jamal systematically sustains an argument in a fascinating study that is unusual for its insightful comparison of two 'post-war' examples of democracy promotion, with careful and textured attention to evidence, historical context, and conditions -- Frances Hasso, author of Consuming Desires: Family Crisis and the State in the Middle East Jamal combines mastery of the theoretical literature and political history with extensive field work, including over 150 in-depth interviews with grassroots activists, political leaders, and officials from donor agencies and NGOs. * Choice * Jamal gives a fascinating and detailed account of the history of mass-based grassroots organizations both before political settlements in each country were reached and how these organizations were transformed as a result of the settlement, with additional chapters focusing on specific issues related to donor aid and (non)inclusive settlements. Her engagement with the available literature on development studies demonstrates her mastery of this subject [...] Academics and students of development studies alike would also be well served in reading this book. * The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs * Jamal's work offers several empirical and theoretical contributions. The author makes good use of the data throughout the book and provides a tantalizing insight into the intertwined world of foreign donors, NGOs, and activists [...] Promoting Democracy: The Force of Political Settlements in Uncertain Times makes a valuable contribution to the field of development studies. It will assist scholars and practitioners in thinking about how to best finance and construct conflict settlements that can achieve democracy-assuming, of course, that is indeed their primary goal. * The National Review of Black Politics * Despite a growing critical scholarship on such aid, relatively less attention has been paid to understanding how democracy aid actually works in practice. The politics embedded in the enterprise have often been absent from such work and are, frankly, difficult to capture without significant field research and engagement with both the donors and recipients of democracy aid. Manal A. Jamal's book Promoting Democracy is thus an important and timely contribution [...] Far from rendering an easy verdict on the ability of Western democracy aid to positively impact democratization, the book is notable for illuminating the complexities shaping the possibilities for such aid in times of transition... This book makes a significant contribution to the field for deepening our knowledge of the politics of democracy aid at both the macro and micro levels of its provision. While not explicitly aimed at policymakers and aid practitioners, her findings should also be of deep interest to those communities. * Political Science Quarterly * Promoting Democracy is a politically relevant, deeply informative, and very engaging book. It provides a rare example of cross-regional comparison by comparing a Latin American case with a Middle Eastern case. It is a must read for those who are interested in conflict resolution, democratization, and civil society, in both regions. * Mediterranean Politics * Jamal's argument is compelling and backed by extensive field research, including more than 150 interviews with stakeholders in Palestine and El Salvador, supported by rigorous analysis. The book is a trove of important insights on the relationship between peace building and democracy promotion that will be of great value to policy makers and scholars alike. The book's true value, however, is in laying out the conceptual and practical failings of the Oslo process... Jamal's book is a timely and welcome contribution to the literature on the complex relationships between democracy promotion, state building, and peace building. Above all, the book is a reminder of the primacy of political settlements-and of politics more broadly-in supporting democratic outcomes as well as the folly of attempting to reengineer or freeze out elements of Palestinian politics. * Journal of Palestine Studies * Promoting Democracy makes an important contribution to the study of democracy assistance and democratic development. Although the relative success of democracy assistance is certainly influenced by a wide range of domestic factors, Jamal makes a compelling case for recognizing the importance of political settlements in postconflict societies. * Latin American Politics and Society * Jamal's contribution here is commendable for using cases from different regions and attempting to bring the Middle East into conversation with the larger subfield of comparative politics. Her generalizable argument, together with the rich detail of her case studies, makes for a thought-provoking read and will surely generate future inquiry. * Perspectives on Politics *
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