Election Day: The Construction of Democracy through Technique

Peer Reviewed


"Election Day."

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.

Related Links

Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE)

Global Security

About the Author

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Additional Works by the Author

Coles, Kimberley. (2002). "Ambivalent Builders: Europeanization, the production of difference, and internationals in Bosnia-Herzegovina." PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 25(1): 1-18.

Coles, Kimberley. (n.d.). "Nothing Matters." in Toward an Anthropology of Democracy, edited by Julia Paley. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Coles, Kimberley. (2006). "The New Bosnian Mosaic. Identities, Moralities and Moral Claims in a Post-War Society." in Ambivalent Builders: Europeanization, the production of difference, and internationals in Bosnia-Herzegovina, edited by Xavier Bougarel, Ger Duijzings, and Elissa Helms. Ashgate Publishing, London.

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