Topics in Area Studies: Dictatorship and its Discontents

Course Description

The overwhelming majority of governments throughout history have been dictatorial. Even the recent spread of democracy has not extirpated authoritarian rule: as recently as 2006 only 90 out of 193 countries were considered democracies, and 45 were full-blown autocracies. Whatever the benefits of democracy, it seems dictatorship is here to stay. This course explores the characteristics and dynamics of non-democratic regimes: how and why they come about, what sustains them, why some people resist them and others do not, and how and why they decline and fall. We will explore a variety of examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Using films and novels in addition to political science literature, we will investigate how dictators maintain their power, how ordinary people react to repression, and the links between dictatorship and security and economic development.

Subfield: Comparative Politics