The Anthropology of Parliaments : Entanglements in Democratic Politics book cover
1st Edition

The Anthropology of Parliaments
Entanglements in Democratic Politics

ISBN 9781350089594
Published May 14, 2021 by Routledge
242 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Anthropology of Parliaments offers a fresh, comparative approach to analysing parliaments and democratic politics, drawing together rare ethnographic work by anthropologists and politics scholars from around the world.

Crewe’s insights deepen our understanding of the complexity of political institutions. She reveals how elected politicians navigate relationships by forging alliances and thwarting opponents; how parliamentary buildings are constructed as sites of work, debate and the nation in miniature; and how politicians and officials engage with hierarchies, continuity and change. This book also proposes how to study parliaments through an anthropological lens while in conversation with other disciplines. The dive into ethnographies from across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Region demolishes hackneyed geo-political categories and culminates in a new comparative theory about the contradictions in everyday political work.

This important book will be of interest to anyone studying parliaments but especially those in the disciplines of anthropology and sociology; politics, legal and development studies; and international relations.

Table of Contents

1. Introducing Parliaments and Anthropology

Part I: The sociality of parliaments

2. The Alchemy of Voting

3. Representing

4. Scrutiny of the State

PART II: The Cultures of Parliaments

5. Rhythms of Performance

6. Riffs of Meaning

7. Rituals and Symbols in Politics

Part III: Politics with the dial turned up

8. A Sense of Proportion

9. Improvising Together

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Emma Crewe is Professor of Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, UK.


"With characteristic wit and imagination, Emma Crewe casts her anthropological eye across the spectrum of parliamentary politics. This book is the product of those enquiries – it is sparklingly fresh, insightful, and as ever with this author, more interested in illumination than condemnation."

Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh, UK.

"This is a pioneering anthropological exploration of parliaments from the UK to East Africa and South Asia, through a rigorous, imaginative and productive crossing of disciplinary boundaries. Emma Crewe’s study of the sociality of parliaments – elections, representation and scrutiny – is complemented by a fascinating account of the culture of parliaments – their rhythms, riffs and rituals – both drawing on a formidable volume of primary research, from the constituency level to every imaginable aspect of parliamentary practice."

Niraja Gopal Jayal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.