To see our publications on parliaments and people, go to the GRNPP library and search under our authors. Over the coming years we will produce books and articles but also podcasts, digital media and visual outputs in collaborative with creative enterprises.
In our first major publication within this programme – Emma Crewe’s book on the Anthropology of Parliament: entanglements in democratic politics – is an overview of global anthropological research on parliaments over the last fifty years. The point of this work is to deepen understanding of the complexity of political institutions. She writes about how elected politicians navigate relationships by forging alliances and thwarting opponents; how parliamentary buildings are constructed as sites of work, debate and the nation in miniature; and how politicians and officials cope with hierarchies, continuity and change.
This book also contains a proposal about how to study parliaments through an anthropological lens while in conversation with other disciplines. The dive into ethnographies from 34 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Region demolishes hackneyed geo-political categories and culminates in a new comparative theory about the contradictions in everyday political work. It reveals the tracking of riffs, rhythms and rituals in parliament as a systematic way to study patterns of interaction. It is available free as an e-book.
According to reviewers:
“With characteristic wit and imagination, Emma Crewe casts her anthropological eye across the spectrum of parliamentary politics. This book is the product of those enquiries – it is sparklingly fresh, insightful, and as ever with this author, more interested in illumination than condemnation.” Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh, UK.
“This is a pioneering anthropological exploration of parliaments from the UK to East Africa and South Asia, through a rigorous, imaginative and productive crossing of disciplinary boundaries. Emma Crewe’s study of the sociality of parliaments – elections, representation and scrutiny – is complemented by a fascinating account of the culture of parliaments – their rhythms, riffs and rituals – both drawing on a formidable volume of primary research, from the constituency-level to every imaginable aspect of parliamentary practice.” Niraja Gopal Jayal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
“This book… begins with parliaments, but it does not end there. Rather, it offers a different way of exploring the political world and political institutions. While it shows readers how parliaments are entangled with other institutions, processes and actors, Crewe also offers an anthropological perspective on political life more generally… She points out the many contradictions and complexities of politics. In doing so, she directly and explicitly challenges existing scholars, particularly within mainstream political science, to think again about how they have studied parliaments.” Marc Geddes, International Journal of Parliamentary Studies.
“… we should praise the dynamic analysis model based on three structuring processes, which the author suggests as an alternative to the universal use of typologies within legislative studies. First, the author convinces us that there is a way forward to renew in depth, not so much the raw knowledge of the functioning of a parliament but the way we understand and view the place of MPs and parliamentary institutions in today’s democracies. In this respect, it is not insignificant that the question of the relations between MPs and citizens (including researchers) constitutes an implicit thread in this book, which makes it possible to shed light on now-classic issues from an original angle. In this instance, we are concerned with the lived meaning of political representation, which is at the heart of the analysis of the ordinary activities that make up MPs’ work. In turn, this could establish the specificity of the anthropological view of parliaments in, as contrasted with, political and legal sciences.” Jonathan Chibois, Redescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory