The Search for Arab Democracy

Discourses and Counter-Discourses

Larbi Sadiki

Bibliographic Details
The Search for Arab Democracy Paperback
February 2004£35.00
9781850654940 257pp
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In this study Larbi Sadiki takes a realistic approach to dissecting the questioning of democracy in Arab politics by tapping into indigenous narratives and drawing on interviews he has conducted over several years. The intention has been not just to analyze and represent the various discourses of democracy, but also to allow for a degree of self-representation through primary material. What should make this work timely is the global milieu of fluidity and contestability: how to be a ‘democrat’ and how to be a Muslim are both the subjects of ongoing debates. There is indeed a contest over ‘which’, ‘whose’ and ‘how much’ democracy takes place within an existing contest over ‘which’, ‘whose’ and ‘how much’ Islam must be given pre-eminence in the political and cultural sphere. There is a ‘democracy’ and there are ‘democracies’. There is an ‘Islam’ and there are ‘Islams’. The diversity of attempts at living up to the ideal of each is what gives rise to variable interpretations of each. It is this discursive moment that this work seizes on. Sadiki articulates and defends some provocative theses, making use of analytical tools from critical theory. He questions Western and Islamic philosophy; analyzes and interrogates Orientalist and Occidentalist discourses of democracy; and analyzes some of the justifications and interpretations of democracy within a global context, giving space for self-representation by women and Islamists, among others.


Dr. Larbi Sadiki is a Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Exeter.


‘Sadiki provides the reader with an invaluable work of reference for those seeking to understand Arab thought concerning democracy and reservations about accepting the western brand.’ — John A. S. Abecasis-Phillips, International Affairs

‘[Sadiki] avoids the simplistic black and white thinking that characterizes most public discourse on this issue. He interrogates in a wide-ranging and subtle way a whole range of Muslim thinkers, from medieval philosophers to nineteenth century modernists to contemporary feminists and Islamists. This book is a key intervention in an increasingly central public debate about Islam and democracy, and should be read by anyone concerned with the issue.’ — Juan Cole, University of Michigan