Comparative Government and Politics [CRN 81218]

Discipline: Political Science
Instructor: van der Westhuizen
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1710
End: 1830
Field Work: Day 1 | September 26, 2019 | Portugal
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Why have some countries succeeded in establishing democracies and be relatively prosperous at the same time, whilst others have not? To answer this fundamental question, this course compares how the emergence of pluralist political systems went hand in hand with the emergence of societies that enabled upward economic mobility. Thanks to the diffusion of political power and the emergence of the rule of law, technological innovations emerged propelling societies that had succeeded in creating inclusive institutions, to prosperity. Drawing on a historical and a comparative approach we analyze the factors which explain why some states developed inclusive political and economic institutions yet those same factors lead others to become authoritarian and often, increasingly poor. The course compares how these processes played out across the world, with specific case studies of the port cities/countries we visit. Possible themes include, amongst others

  • Poland’s transition from Communism to become the ‘New Germany’ of Europe
  • Despite Brazil’s success in overcoming poverty, why has it elected a ‘Trump of the Tropics’?
  • Economic growth and Ghana’s rise as an ‘African Lion’

Field Work

Country: Portugal
Day: 1
Date: September 26, 2019

To demonstrate Portugal’s role in slavery, this tour visits key sites in Lisbon.

During our field class we will be undertaking a walking tour of key historic sites in Portugal’s capital that reflect Portugal’s role in the exploration of the New Worlds and the use of slavery in these territories. Drawing on what you have learned during our field class, you should write a short reflective essay of no more than 4 A4 pages, 1.5 spacing and 12 pt font in which you choose one or maximum two historic sites or encounters during our field class that impressed you most or that you found interesting. You should briefly motivate why you chose this site and most importantly link this site/event/encounter to the argument about extractive and inclusive institutions in our class textbook.

Learning Objectives:
1. To show students visible reminders of Lisbon’s role as a pre-eminent power in the 16th century
2. To show students Portugal’s role in slavery. We discuss in the class slavery as an example of an ‘extractive’ institution