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Settler empire and the promise of American freedom

Author: Aziz Rana
Publisher: 2007.
Dissertation: Ph. D., Dept. of Government Harvard University 2007
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : English
Summary:
My dissertation examines the decline of democratic practice and imagination in contemporary American politics. This decline has produced political and economic institutions that are increasingly hierarchical and insulated from popular intervention. It has also undermined the discursive ability of ordinary citizens to confront structural problems with creativity and social hope. I argue that these developments are  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Academic theses
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Aziz Rana
OCLC Number: 1011273953
Notes: "June 2007."
Description: vii, 449 leaves ; 29 cm
Responsibility: by Aziz Rana.

Abstract:

My dissertation examines the decline of democratic practice and imagination in contemporary American politics. This decline has produced political and economic institutions that are increasingly hierarchical and insulated from popular intervention. It has also undermined the discursive ability of ordinary citizens to confront structural problems with creativity and social hope. I argue that these developments are directly tied to the practical defeat of a uniquely American account of freedom. This account presented liberty as an exercise in continuous and extensive self-rule, one that combined direct political participation with economic independence. It emerged, however, out of an historical experience of settler conquest that presupposed colonial modes of exclusivity and subordination. At the close of the 19 th century, farmers and wage earners struggled to strip these oppressive and imperial features from the liberating potential of self-rule. Their efforts ultimately failed--in large part due to the persistent inability of white settlers to conceive of freedom as a truly universal aspiration. The consequence was the rise of new modes of political and economic authority constitutionalized through the New Deal. The emerging framework emphasized not participatory citizenship and productive control, but rather national and economic security as society's guiding commitments. These commitments and forms of authority continue to structure our institutions and define the boundaries of collective imagination. Their rejection in theory and practice is therefore essential to expanding the scope of democratic thinking and to renewing the emancipatory promise embedded in American life.

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