State & society in Asia & Africa

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module examines the major issues involved in the study of state/society relations in Asia and Africa. It begins with an analysis of the literature on the subject in Europe, and then discusses the relevance of that literature to contemporary Asia and Africa. Among the topics considered in the first term are fear and greed at the basis of the state, the notions of civil society, absolutism and polyarchy. The second term focuses more specifically on Asian and African cases, borrowing also from literature on Latin America. Topics include Islam and statehood in the Middle East, criminalisation of the state in Africa, Hindu nationalism and democracy in India, capitalist authoritarianism and subversion in South East Asia, bureaucratic authoritarianism in Latin America. The third term deals principally with the issue of democracy in different contexts of Asia and Africa.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the module students will have:

  • The ability to blend "grand theory" and empirical description to develop conceptual tools useful for comparative work, as well as a concrete empirical base
  • Analyzed concepts such as democracy, civil society, revolution, political corruption and political theatre as they relate to a wide range of examples from Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • The ability to analyze such issues with regard to less well-known areas of Asia and Africa
  • Developed linguistic and organizational skills through oral presentation and debate, and through comparative written analyses


  • 2 hour seminar per week

Method of assessment

Assessment comprises of 2 x 5000 word assignments - each worth 50% of the total mark. All coursework is resubmissible.

Suggested reading

Recommended preliminary reading:
R. Jackson, Quasi-States .
J. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States .


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules