This fresh and original study analyses how power presents itself in dramatic performance in these two increasingly economically and politically important continents. Emotion and politics play a hugely important role in the politics of Asia and Africa but, as this book sets out, too much of western political research into the subject concentrates on apparent deficiencies - on the weakness of institutions, defects in the bureaucracy or markets, poor management of elections, absent judicial autonomy. Viewing political performance through Western eyes in this way - where politics is primarily about the naked pursuit of power and interests - can lead to a misunderstanding of how politics actually works in Africa and Asia, where process plays a far more important role. Thus performance, drama and emotion are far more integral to political outcome there than in the West. By concentrating on this new perspective the authors, each a recognised specialist in one or more states in Asia and Africa, avoid this trap and offer a coherent picture of the impact political performance has on the culture and politics of these societies and how they function.
Donal B. Cruise O'Brien is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies (Africa) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Julia C. Strauss is Editor of The China Quarterly and Senior Lecturer in Political Studies (China) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.