Secret Admirers

One of the more interesting books this blogger has read lately Georgi M. Derluguian’s Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus (University of Chicago Press, 2005). The book charts the collapse of Soviet socialism and rise of ethnic violence in the Caucasus region through the life of Soviet functionary and sociologist cum nationalist activist Yuri Shanibov/Musa Shanib, applying world systems theory and the analytic frameworks of Pierre Bourdieu. There are many valuable insights on identity and political violence here. Its approach to class analysis is also interesting.There are also a number of analytical frameworks useful in thinking about regime collapse in other places and conflict among other peoples, including what at first appear to be highly idiosyncratic visualizations (though some of these are so impenetrable the reader wonders if even the author ‘gets’ what’s going on — more on this later).

Its framing of the Soviet Union as a ‘developmentalist’ state (a state aggressively attempting to industrialize using a coercive state bureaucracy) is especially useful in considering the Algerian state. One could probably find use in applying the theoretic models Derluguian uses to the Maghreb countries. The ‘developmentalist’ elements of the Algerian state apparatus are probably a good place to start, given the known inspiration early state planners in Algeria drew from the Soviet (as well as Yugoslav) experiences.  In any case, the framework Derlugian offers for understanding the ‘historical trajectory’ of polity is worth exploring in greater depth. Here is an effort at understanding Algerian pathways in these terms.

Historical Trajectory of Algerian Political Development

Note: Third column should read “1965-1980,” not “1865-1980”.