New books from IDD Staff

Laurence Cooley, Niheer Dasandi and Raquel Da Silva have recently published books on their research in international development. Topics include the European Union, democracy and political violence.

Laurence Cooley's book, The European Union's Approach to Conflict Resolution: Transformation or Regulation in the Western Balkans?, explores and explains the policy preferences of the EU in relation to conflict resolution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo. The book argues that the characterisation of the EU's approach to conflict resolution in the existing literature as one that seeks the transformation of ethno-national identities is inaccurate. Instead, the Union's approach in the three case studies has been a more conservative one that attempts to regulate conflict through the accommodation of group identities and interests using institutional mechanisms such as power sharing and decentralisation.

Is Democracy Failing? by Niheeer Dasandi. Since 2015, far-right and populist politicians have been on the rise throughout the West, leading many to ask whether democracy is failing. This book considers this question, and in doing so provides a general introduction to democracy. The book begins with a global account of the history and spread of democracy, before discussing in depth the four basic requirements of democracy – free and fair elections, active participation of citizens in politics, protection of human rights, and the rule of law – and how these function. It considers limitations and criticisms of democracy, before examining the recent rise of populist politicians in democracies around the world. The book is part of Thames and Hudson’s innovative new ‘the Big Idea’ book series. 

Narratives of Political Violence: Life Storeis of Former Millitants by Raquel da Silva is an exploration of how political violence is constructed, this book presents the life stories of individuals once committed to political transformation through violent means in Portugal.

Challenging simplistic conceptualisations about the actors of violence, this book examines issues of temporality, gender and interpersonal dynamics in the study of political violence. It is the first comprehensive case study of political violence in Portugal, based on the perspectives of former militants. These are individuals from different political spheres who became convinced that they could not be mere spectators of the circumstances of their times. For them, the only viable way of making a difference was through violent acts. Applying the Dialogical Self Theory to trace the identity positions underpinning their narratives, this book not only sheds light on radicalisation and deradicalisation processes at the individual level, but also on the meso- and macro-level contexts that instigate engagement with and encourage disengagement from armed organisations.