In the just-released Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation (Stanford University Press, 2016), Gallatin faculty member and director of the Gallatin School’s Urban Democracy Lab Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza, a sociologist at the Spanish National Research Council, consider the opportunities and challenges of democratic participation. Examining how one mechanism of participation has traveled the world—with its inception in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and spread to Europe and North America—they show how participatory instruments have become more focused on the formation of public opinion and are far less attentive to, or able to influence, actual reform. Though the current impact and benefit of participatory forms of government is far more ambiguous than its advocates would suggest, Popular Democracy concludes with suggestions of how participation could better achieve its political ideals.
Another recent release, Transnationalism in Iranian Political Thought: The Life and Times of Ahmad Fardid (Cambridge University Press, 2017), sees Gallatin faculty member Ali Mirsepassi follow the intellectual journey of the Iranian philosopher Ahmad Fardid and offer an account of the rise of political Islam in modern Iran. Through his controversial persona and numerous public and private appearances before, during and particularly after the Revolution, Fardid popularized an Islamist vision militantly hostile to the modern world that remains a fundamental part of the political philosophy of the Islamic Republic to this day. By also bringing elements of Fardid’s post-revolutionary thought, as well as a critical analysis of Foucault's writings on “the politics of spirituality,” Mirsepassi offers an essential read for all those studying the evolution of political thought and philosophy in modern Iran and beyond.