W025
Elite strategies of distinction and mutuality

Convenors:
Carola Lentz (University of Mainz)
Richard Werbner (Manchester University)
Chair:
Carola Lentz, Richard Werbner
Discussant:
Richard Werbner, Mattia Fumanti
Format:
Workshops
Location:
115
Start time:
27 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
4

Short abstract:

The workshop explores histories and practices of 'Third World' elites, focusing on changing patterns of elite recruitment and reproduction; practices of elite cohesion and exclusivity; elite discourses of distinction and legitimacy; and the elite's relations with broader non-elite constituencies.

Long abstract:

There is a remarkable dearth of in-depth research on elites in developing countries, despite frequent assertions of their strategic importance for 'good governance' and economic development and despite repeated calls for anthropologists to 'study up'. Elites are integral to processes of socio-political change, and ties or conflicts between elites as well as their relationship to both the state and local communities are essential to the working or collapse of the polity. The convenors of this workshop invite papers that explore the histories and practices of specific 'Third World' elites, focusing on changing patterns of elite recruitment and reproduction, including elite relations with the state; practices of elite cohesion and exclusivity; elite discourses of distinction and legitimacy; and the elite's relations with broader non-elite constituencies. How is elite status 'performed' and maintained, across the generations? Which images of themselves do elite men and women project, and how do they justify their upward social mobility? How do they balance regional commitments and national aspirations in their careers and activities? And how do urbanised elite men and women perceive their roles with regard to their rural 'home' communities and non-elite families? What role do they envision themselves playing within the nation-state? How do elites reflect on their histories of activism and service for the public good? Case studies that address one or several of these questions can contribute to a critical discussion of the broader issues involved in the EASA conference's theme of diversity and mutuality.