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Cultural Anthropology

Election Day: The Construction of Democracy through Technique

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Abstract

An ethnographic analysis of the international community's efforts to democratize postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina argues for greater acknowledgement of the social within the technical aspects of politics. Rather than viewing elections as a ritual symbolically reflecting or producing meaning, the insights of Bruno Latour and other scholars of science are applied to elections as a site that creates democratic knowledge and authority. Technical practices and objects construct elections as an apolitical and acultural event. However, the forms of authority and social relations created through this apparently neutral techne are tremendously social and political. Democracy and elections are firmly embedded in social practices, knowledges, and artifacts.

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