In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, democracy in the Arab world seems farther away today than at any point in the last 25 years, leaving one to conclude that the answer to the question posed in this special anniversary issue of the Journal—“Is Democracy in Decline?”—is, at least in the case of the Arab world, a resounding, even deafening, yes. If democracy is to ever arrive in the region, it will likely be through an evolutionary and elite-driven process.
Why does Islam seem to dominate Egyptian politics, especially when the country's endemic poverty and deep economic inequality would seem to render it promising terrain for a politics of radical redistribution rather than one of religious conservativism? This book argues that the answer lies not in the political unsophistication of voters, the subordination of economic interests to spiritual ones, or the ineptitude of secular and leftist politicians, but in organizational and social factors that shape the opportunities of parties in authoritarian and democratizing systems to reach potential voters. Tracing the performance of Islamists and their rivals in Egyptian elections over the course of almost forty years, this book not only explains why Islamists win elections, but illuminates the possibilities for the emergence in Egypt of the kind of political pluralism that is at the heart of what we expect from democracy.
As Senegal prepares to celebrate fifty years of independence from French colonial rule, academic and policy circles are engaged in a vigorous debate about its experience in nation building. An important aspect of this debate is the impact of globalization on Senegal, particularly the massive labor migration that began directly after independence. From Tokyo to Melbourne, from Turin to Buenos Aires, from to Paris to New York, 300,000 Senegalese immigrants are simultaneously negotiating their integration into their host society and seriously impacting the development of their homeland. This book addresses the modes of organization of transnational societies in the globalized context, and specifically the role of religion in the experience of migrant communities in Western societies. Abundant literature is available on immigrants from Latin America and Asia, but very little on Africans, especially those from French speaking countries in the United States. The book offers a case study of the growing Senegalese community in New York City. By pulling together numerous aspects (religious, ethnic, occupational, gender, generational, socio-economic, and political) of the experience of the Senegalese migrant community into an integrated analysis, linking discussion of both the homeland and host community, this book contributes to the debate about postcolonial Senegal, Muslim globalization and diaspora studies in the United States.