Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Transition in Egypt “from Tahrir Square to Democracy”—Recommended Reading

By way of an analytically and theoretically sensitive introduction to and taste of the myriad kinds of issues the oppositions groups and parties in Egypt will face in the transition “from Tahrir Square to democracy,” see the following books: Jon Elster, Closing the Books: Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Jon Elster, ed., The Roundtable Talks and the Breakdown of Communism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1996); Jon Elster, Claus Offe, and Ulrich K. Press (et al.), eds., Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998); and Cass Sunstein, Designing Democracy: What Constitutions Do (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

One particular salient and poignant if not urgent issue revolves around the formal (or quasi-formal) representation of the many young Egyptians participating in the uprising that to-date have not been involved in, or even necessarily identify with, existing secular and religious political parties.

There may be some lessons to be derived from the following book as well: Mona N. Younis, Liberation and Democratization: The South African and Palestinian National Movements (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2000). Indeed, while many of the transitional problems faced by post-apartheid South Africa were (and are) clearly of a different order than those Egyptians will face, I think the South African experience is worth studying in-depth. Perhaps later I’ll find the time later to post some titles from the growing literature documenting and critically examining that experience.
Addendum: I was remiss in not mentioning Bruce K. Rutherford’s prescient book, Egypt after Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).
Added February 8, 2011:
Courtesy of Ruthann Robson of the Constitutional Law Prof Blog:

“Clark Lombardi has been posting some thoughtful analysis over at Comparative Constitutions, including tackling the large question about the relevance of ‘a constitution’ during regime change. For an in-depth and scholarly consideration, Tamir Moustafa’s The Struggle for Constitutional Power: Law, Politics, and Economic Development in Egypt (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007) comes highly recommended by ConLawProf Miguel Schor.
[cross-posted at]


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