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Feb 3, 2014 - I would like to thank my colleagues in the Anthropology Writing Group at the University of ... 178 CRIS SHORE. 'bad governance' ... These definitions with their emphasis on action verbs ('command', 'initiative', 'win') ... Leadership in this more anthropological sense con- ... cal anthropologists also changed.

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C HA P T E R  12

ANTHROPOLOGY* C R I S SHOR E

1 Introduction One of the paradoxes about political leadership is that, while the subject has been extensively studied, the concept itself remains poorly understood, and studies have produced no unified theory or even an agreed definition (Elgie 2001). One reason for this, as anthropologists have noted, is because the meaning of leadership varies cross-culturally and temporally, as do the qualities expected of a leader. Social anthropology, as the study of social relations and human cultures, begins from the premiss that how people perceive and engage with the world—the categories they use to construct and interpret it—are profoundly shaped by the social milieu they inhabit, and what Bourdieu (1977) termed habitus: those enduring sets of socially learned dispositions and taken-for-granted ways of acting. From a theoretical perspective, this takes us beyond the argument that the meaning of political leadership is socially constructed: it also destabilizes the category of the ‘political’ itself by highlighting the fluid, contingent, contested, and socially constructed nature of what different societies understand as the political field (Gallie, 1964). As John Davis (1977: 146) argued, these social processes constitute ‘the bedrock of political life’ in most of those communities that anthropologists and political scientists study. Within anthropology, political leadership is generally understood as a system of social relationships involving authority, charisma, and other forms of personal or institutional power, whose rules are specific to, and embedded within, particular cultural contexts. Early anthropological studies of leadership focused on power relations in small-scale tribal societies and the evolution of the state. As the focus of anthropology shifted to include more complex societies, traditional concerns with authority, kinship, informal

*  I would like to thank my colleagues in the Anthropology Writing Group at the University of Auckland—particularly Christine Dureau, Susanna Trnka, Julie Park, and Charlotte Joy—for their constructive feedback on an earlier version of this chapter.

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mechanisms of social control, and dispute resolution gave way to more nuanced ethnographic studies of political behaviour, including the micro-politics of reputation management, political brokerage, and an interest in the dynamics of followers and factions. Since the 1980s, anthropology has devoted relatively little attention to political leadership per se. However, that does not mean a lack of anthropological interest in the topic. Rather, anthropologists have addressed questions of leadership through other debates from the politics of race, ethnicity, and nationalism, to the anthropology of organizations, elites, post-colonial governance, and the state. In short, anthropological studies of political leadership have been subsumed within wider debates over power, ideology and gender relations, hegemony and resistance, and political ritual and symbolism. This chapter reviews anthropological contributions to the study of political leadership since the 1960s. The argument is set out in four sections. The first explores what the concept of political leadership is and why it matters anthropologically. The second examines anthropology’s pioneering contributions to debates about leadership from the 1960s to 1980. The third outlines more recent directions that anthropological work has taken since the 1980s, particularly regarding the ritual and symbolic underpinnings of leadership. Finally, I conclude by reviewing some potential new avenues for anthropological research that highlight the relevance of anthropological perspectives for understanding how political leadership works, how it is performed, and the meanings it holds in different societies.

2  Political Leadership: What It Is, and Why It Matters While its protean character and cross-cultural variations in meaning renders ‘leadership’ problematic as an analytical concept, it nevertheless remains important as an empirical and anthropological term for the simple reason that most societies (but by no means all) have elements of leadership and recognize categories of leaders. Prime ministers and presidents—be they Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Nickolas Sarkozy, Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro, Ghandi, and Kim Il Jong—not only speak for their countries; they often symbolize them too. When institutions fail to work properly, it is often put it down to a ‘problem of leadership’—yet people still look to leadership to solve the problems. Political leaders are expected to be adept performers in that social field called the ‘political stage’, or ‘public life’; as an old British Labour Party maxim goes, ‘if you can’t ride two horses at the same time, you shouldn’t be in the circus’. Yet, despite the rise of leadership consultants and experts and the transformation of leadership itself into a field of study, understanding the qualities, abilities, and behaviour that make for effective leadership still seems more like a search for the Holy Grail than science. Why political leadership matters also lies in the implications of its absence. For example, despite the aspirations for ‘good governance’ and enlightened leadership set out in the 2004 ‘Mombasa Declaration’ and ‘Code of African Leadership’, the succession of ineffective and selfish leaders in Africa’s developing countries has produced a legacy of

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178  Cris Shore ‘bad governance’ and all its associated problems of political instability, social malaise, corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, and lack of respect for the rule of law (Udogu 2008: 13–14). What, therefore, is the secret of good leadership? Ever since Max Weber, social scientists have sought to identity the personal traits that might make someone an effective leader. This focus on individual qualities, however, tended to locate leadership studies in the realm of Thomas Carlyle’s ‘Great Man Theory’. While that androcentric bias has been critiqued and corrected in later analyses, much of the literature on leadership still tends to focus on individual personality traits or psychological characteristics and motives. For example, Jean Blondel (1987: 3) defined leadership as ‘the power exercised by one or a few individuals to direct members of the nation towards actions’, while Joseph Rost (1991: 2) calls it ‘an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their purpose’, and Burns describes it in terms of the mobilization of ‘institutional, political, psychological and other resources’ in order ‘to arouse, engage, and satisfy the motives of followers’ (Burns 1978: 18). Political leaders themselves often reinforce this methodological individualist approach. ‘Leadership is personal,’ declares Tony Blair (2010: 1) in his autobiography—although he later acknowledges that the ‘awe’ great leaders inspire in people derives more from the office they occupy than their personal characters. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2010), a leader is variously ‘a person who commands a group, organization, or country: a member of the government officially responsible for initiating business in Parliament’, or ‘the person or team that is winning a sporting competition at a particular time’. These definitions with their emphasis on action verbs (‘command’, ‘initiative’, ‘win’) suggest that leadership can be understood in at least two different ways. The first is in the sense of institutional office-holding. Here leadership becomes shorthand for occupying a senior position in an organization such as President or Chief of Police. The second refers to leadership as a category of behaviour and type of relationship between members of a particular group. Here, a leader is someone who is able to convince a group to follow a particular course of action. Leadership in this more anthropological sense concerns the interaction between leader and followers, which Elgie (2001: 8578) describes as ‘a reciprocal and essentially noncoercive relationship’. What constitutes ‘reciprocity’ and ‘coercion’ in political relationships are themes we will consider later; but, as Elgie notes, this distinction is important for recognizing that leadership does not necessarily have to be exercised by leaders, in the same way that not all leaders actually lead.

3  Anthropology’s Contribution to the Study of Political Leadership Anthropologists also tend to highlight the dynamic, relational, and contextual nature of leadership and to understand political leadership as something processual and

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performative rather than simply a matter of institutional position-holding or a mode of domination. Anthropology’s contribution to the study of political leadership in the early decades of the twentieth century lay in its examination of power relations in small-scale tribal societies. Of particular concern were questions about the evolution of the state, dispute resolution, and how political order is maintained in ‘primitive societies’ lacking institutionalized forms of rule: that is, ‘tribes without rulers’, or ‘acephalous’ polities (Evans-Pritchard 1940; Fortes and Evans-Pritchard 1940). Later works of political anthropology during the 1940s–1950s concerned themselves more with issues of dispute settlement and informal mechanisms of social control such as reciprocity, kinship obligations, and informal sanctions, or with how leadership functions in tribal societies tend to be distributed across various roles, including clan elders and village headmen. As anthropology became more interested in complex societies, the concerns of political anthropologists also changed. Traditional preoccupations with law and the maintenance of order gave way during the 1960s–1970s to a concern with conflict, resulting in action-based and individually oriented studies of political behaviour. Since the 1980s and 1990s, political anthropology’s interest in leadership has developed in several important new directions, including studies of hegemony and resistance (Comaroff and Comaroff 1991), political oratory, language, and power (Parkin 1984), political symbolism and ritual (Kertzer 1988; Abélès 2005), and the analysis of the state, elites, and policy assemblages (Grillo 1980; Steinmetz 1999; Greenhalgh 2008; Wedel 2009; Feldman 2011). Within anthropology, political leadership is generally understood as a system of social relationships involving authority, charisma, or other forms of personal or institutional power, but whose rules are specific to, and embedded within, a particular cultural context. Anthropologists have long recognized that leadership as an institution hinges on culturally specific and relational understanding of authority, or, as Sahlins (1963: 290) put it, ‘leadership is a creation of followership’ acquired by demonstrating that the leader ‘possesses the kind of skills that demand respect’. Max Weber’s classical distinction between ‘legal rational’, ‘traditional’, and ‘charismatic’ ideal-typical forms of authority continues to inform most anthropological analyses of leadership. Legitimate authority in every society constitutes a type of power in which leaders (as rulers) successfully uphold the claim that they govern in accord with law or tradition and in which people willingly obey commands because they perceive the exercise of power to be legitimate.

4  Big Men versus Chiefs: The Making of Political Leaders Most anthropologists working in small-scale societies encounter actors and leaders who mediate between the local community and the larger world and observe how

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180  Cris Shore local politics involves competition between different leaders, factions, and followers. As Gledhill (1994: 123) remarks, ‘conflict is partly about parochial issues, and understanding what sometimes seems byzantine maneuvers over little of significance demands local knowledge, of who the actors are, what their background is, and what the issues represent in the eyes of those involved’. That contextualization and attention to local detail are perhaps anthropology’s main contribution to understanding leadership in practice, as the work of early political anthropologists such as Barth (1959), Sahlins (1963), and Bailey (1969) illustrates. A key figure in the anthropology of leadership is the ‘Big Man’, the prototypical Melanesian political leader who stands at the centre of a complex of economic and political structures found throughout Melanesia, and, in particular, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands. The term Big Man derives from the Anglicized phase bikpela man, meaning ‘prominent man’, but ‘was widely adopted in Melanesian ethnography to refer to male leaders whose political influence is achieved by means of public oratory, informal persuasion, and the skillful conduct of both private and public wealth exchange’ (Lederman 2001: 1162; see also Godelier 1986). The study of Melanesian Big Men has intrigued anthropologists. It provided both a marker of delineation (albeit much contested) between Melanesian and Polynesian societies (where political leadership was vested in the figure of the chief) and a ‘vantage point for understanding how economic intensification might be possible in the absence of institutionalized political structures’ (Lederman 2001: 1162). According to Sahlins, Big Men are exemplary charismatic leaders. Drawing on studies of Bougainville and Papua New Guinean political systems, Sahlins describes the Big Man as reminiscent of the free-enterprising rugged individual of our own heritage. He combines with an ostensible interest in the general welfare a more profound measure of self-interested cunning and economic calculation. (Sahlins 1963: 289)

Sahlins argued that Melanesia and Polynesia represent different points on an evolutionary continuum:  whereas Melanesia political systems are ‘segmental’ and characterized by small autonomous kinship groups living in small villages or hamlets, each a copy of the others and each economically self-governing, Polynesian political structures are pyramidal, larger scale, based on genealogical ranking, and capped by a paramount chief. Melanesian Big Men and Polynesian chiefs reflect two fundamentally different sociological types and historically particular forms of leadership. According to Sahlins, Big Men epitomize many of the qualities of Western capitalists, their authority being based on personal powers and entrepreneurship. To attain Big Man status they must rely on skills of oratory, leading by example, haranguing, or through sheer force of personality. Polynesian chiefs, by contrast, are more feudal; their authority comes from their office and their ascribed status or pedigree upon which they claim their right of rule.

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And, whereas Melanesian leaders have to master compelling oratorical style, ‘Polynesian paramount chiefs often had trained “talking chiefs” whose voice was the chiefly command’ (Sahlins 1963: 295)—a tradition that has continued in many parts of the Pacific (White and Lindstrom 1997). What is striking about these comments, albeit typical of the scholarship on political leadership, is the continuing androcentrism (not to mention Eurocentrism) that underpins assumptions about the relationship between leadership and masculinity. Sahlins makes three further interesting points about Big Man political systems:



1. They are inherently unstable. The ‘shifting disposition and magnetisms of ambitious men in a region may induce fluctuations in factions’, while the death of a Big Man can result in the dissolution of the entire group. 2. Because Big Men acquire influence through economic production and exchange, political ambition results in the production of surpluses within Melanesian horticultural and cash economies. Competitive politicking encourages people to produce goods beyond local needs and to participate in trade networks that circulate these goods throughout extensive regions. In parts of Melanesia, this has inflated customary brideprice payments; young women in Vanuatu, for example, are sometimes called ‘Toyotas’ after the sort of good their families demand (Lindstrom 1996: 65). 3. They act as a brake on development. By pursuing status, Big Men must encourage followers to produce more pigs, yams, taro, etc., but that in turn encourages defection. A Big Man who underperforms risks being pushed out by his competitors and abandoned by his following.

By contrast, Polynesian chiefdoms unified much larger populations, producing wealthier and more complex political systems that resulted in ‘subsidized craft production and a division of labor unparalleled in extent and expertise in most of the Pacific’ (Sahlins 1963: 296). But Polynesian chieftainship also generated internal contradictions, including a tendency to over-tax and too much wealth being diverted to the chiefly establishment, which provoked periodic rebellions. Although the Big Man as a Melanesian prototype unravelled with further studies— and as the ‘evolutionary narrative of progression from traditional to legal-bureaucratic authority . . . proved only a romantic political fable’ (White and Lindstrom 1997: 17)—the concept was usefully extended beyond Melanesia as a label for leaders who achieve status by astutely engaging in imbalanced reciprocal exchanges—and who use wealth to place others in their debt. As Lindstrom (1996: 66) observes, Big Men have also been spotted by anthropologists ‘in the halls of the United States congress as well as within a number of other political organizations worldwide’. Lindstrom’s work (1984) extended Sahlins’s argument to show how some Big Man political systems are based not on economic wealth but on control of particular kinds of knowledge—what Bourdieu (1977) has termed ‘symbolic capital’.

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5  Political Systems and Political Leadership: Action Approaches The 1960s saw other attempts to move beyond the typologizing accounts of functionalist anthropology towards more dynamic approaches that viewed behaviour in terms of purposeful action rather than simply enactment of fixed norms. An important contribution to political theory and studies of political leadership that emerged from this was Frederik Barth’s so-called transactionalist approach. His 1959 book Political Leadership among Swat Pathans examined the political organization of the segmentary and faction-ridden Pahktun tribes of north-west Pakistan. Following Edmund Leach’s study (1954) of the political systems of highland Burma, Barth challenged many of anthropology’s core assumptions about social order and cultural change, rejecting the Durkheimian conception of society as a system of morals that exist independently of behaviour, and focusing instead on the choices that individuals make in pursuit of their interests. Barth argued that, although individuals are born into particular structural positions, in Swat society people can choose where they wish to place their loyalties among different office-holders, and these decisions may be temporary and revocable, which explains why alliances are so volatile and unstable. The result is a political system ‘built up and maintained through the exercise of a continual series of individual choices’ (Barth 1959: 2). Political allegiance is not something given automatically but is something ‘bartered between individuals against a return in other advantages’: that is, local khans provide protection in return for services and loyalty from followers who effectively ‘sell’ their allegiance to whichever landlord offers the best charity. What are exchanged are loyalty and protection for honour and prestige. Individuals build up their own positions of power and authority by systematically manipulating these relations. Barth concluded that analyses of leadership must be processual rather than normative, and must explain how various social forms are generated, not simply how order is maintained. This requires a focus on transactional behaviour, which Barth (1959: 4) defines as ‘sequences of interaction systematically governed by reciprocity’. Transactions themselves are seen as subject to the same kind of rules of strategy advanced in game theory models, according to which the value gained is greater than or equivalent to the value lost (Kapferer 1976: 3). Barth pioneered a new way of explaining political organization in terms of the strategizing behaviour of individuals interacting with each other. This entailed a theoretical shift away from norms and social structure towards a Weberian ‘social action’ approach. However, Barth was heavily criticized by other scholars, notably Talal Asad (1972), a Marxist anthropologist, and Akbar Ahmed (1976), a Muslim and former Pakistani government official. Both rejected his interpretation as partial and ethnocentric. For Asad, Barth’s individualistic, contractual market model of transactional relations between Pakhtuns overlooked the fact that land is controlled by a small

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number of men who dominate those without land. It is not free choice but ‘the presence of a sovereign land-owning class that was the key to political leadership in Swat’ (Edwards 1998: 714). Asad’s complaint was that Barth failed take into account history, or acknowledge the role of the state. Both highlighted the fact that Swat society is not as segmentary and acephalous as Barth assumed. In a more recent essay, Edwards (1998) has shown how these early anthropological studies of the Pakhtuns provide valuable insight into ethnic politics in contemporary Afghanistan and how they help us to understand the relative success of the Taliban in unifying a country where other regimes have signally failed.

6  Political Leaders as Cultural Brokers During the 1970s, transactionalist approaches were pioneered by numerous anthropologists and proved particularly useful for studying local-level politics and conflicts over resources. Anthropologists developed a raft of new theoretical concepts to analyse the political forms generated by individuals in these situations of leadership and conflict. Among these were quasi-group, action-set, clique, gang, faction, coalition, interest group, and party. Others related to modes of political behaviour:  choosing, maximising, decision-making, strategising, interacting, transacting, manipulating, career-building, spiralling, recruiting, excluding, manoeuvring, competing, fighting, dominating, encapsulating. (Vincent 1978: 176)

Others focused on specific kinds of power relationship, including ‘friendship’, ‘godparenthood’, and ‘patron–client linkages’ (Waterbury and Gellner 1977) or the contexts in which political action occurs (that is, field, arena, situation, political system, environment, and power structure). This new methodology produced some pioneering studies of local politics, power brokerage and issues such as the politics of honour, reputation management, and the rise of the mafia (Blok 1974; Arlacchi 1986). A key focus of interest was the role played by gatekeepers or ‘middlemen’ in face-toface rural societies;—that is, individuals whose structural position enables them to mediate between the relative isolation of peripheral communities and the institutions of the modern state. These positions create the social and economic space for a different kind of political leader: the community mediator or ‘broker’. An important anthropological contribution was in analysing the character and quality of these relationships to show how most contain both moral and reciprocal elements (Silverman 1965: 176). Patron–client relations were a fundamental aspect of the social organization of rural societies throughout Latin America, the Mediterranean, and other developing countries (Gilmore 1982).

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184  Cris Shore This provoked heated debate over how to theorize the patron–client relationship; was it a dyadic, interpersonal, and moral bond, or a disguised form of class domination? (See Silverman 1965; Davis 1977). Earlier studies had claimed that these brokers played a vital role in ‘bridging the gap’ between the peasantry and urban elites, linking rural hinterlands to the resources of the state. Later studies, often inspired by Marxist analysis, questioned this assumption and argued that these cultural brokers constituted a class of leaders whose political and economic interests lay more in maintaining rather than closing these gaps. Elizabeth Rata’s work (2011) on Maori leadership strategies in New Zealand and the rise of what she terms ‘neotribal capitalism’ suggests similar processes are at work in other contexts (see also Comaroff and Comaroff 2009; Levine 2010). Other anthropologists, including Boissevain, Cohen, and Bailey also contributed to the methodological tool-kit for studying competitive political action and leadership. Boissevain (1974) developed a theoretical taxonomy for analysing political ‘action-sets’ and networks, and the way individuals—seen as ‘social entrepreneurs’—manipulate relations to attain goals and solve problems. The subject matter of his so-called transactionalist approach, he wrote, includes the network of friends, relatives and work mates; the visiting, bargaining, gossiping and manoeuvring that goes on between them; the impact of these on promotion, ideology, and conflict; the steps an ambitious man [sic] takes to build up his fund of credit among useful relations; and the operation of neighbourhood and workplace cliques and factions. These are processes and situations with which we are all involved and they are the basic stuff of social life. (Boissevain 1974: 4).

Cohen (1974) showed how effective political leadership rests on the manipulation of symbols, insights that he later applied to the study of complex Western societies. And Bailey (1969, 1988, 2001) produced numerous books that sought to theorize leadership as a type of economic transaction and disruption of conventional morality. Like capitalist entrepreneurs, political leaders, as cultural brokers, seek to maximize returns on their expertise, take a cut from their interventions to help clients, and create ‘vote banks’ of potential voters and favours owed (Bailey 1969: 41).

7  Political Leadership: Ritual and Symbolic Aspects Since the mid-1980s political leadership has received far less critical attention within anthropology, largely because the rich lines of research stimulated by earlier debates over ‘Big Men’ political brokerage and the politics of reputation management were absorbed into other projects. Explicit concern with the individual qualities of leaders

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shifted towards wider considerations of the contexts in which leadership takes place, including issues of power, performance, gender, ideology, and political economy. Political anthropology developed new lines of research, including studies of language, discourse, oratory, symbolism, and political rituals. Whereas political scientists often dismiss ritual and symbols as secondary to the ‘real stuff of politics’—namely, interest groups, economic forces, and power relations—anthropologists and historians have long recognized that the symbolic and ceremonial dimensions of political life are not simply window dressing. The image of individuals as rational actors who base their decisions and actions on instrumental calculations of self-interest tends to ignore most of what makes people human. As David Cannadine (1992: 3) wrote: ‘the rituals of rulers, the “symbolics of power”, are not mere incidental ephemera, but are central to the structure and working of any society’. They are also central to understanding political leadership. The work of Marc Abélès and David Kertzer exemplifies this point. Both authors show how effective political leadership depends upon a leader’s ability to harness ritual in ways that mobilize followers, and how symbols can be powerful vehicles for shaping emotion and cognition—‘snares for thought’, as Abélès (1988) puts it. One reason for the political potency of symbols is because a crucial facet of modern power is the ability to define what constitutes reality. As Kenneth Burke (1945) noted long ago, all social and political life is constructed around symbols. For example, people are mobilized to fight wars in defence of concepts such as ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘our nation’, or ‘our way of life’—abstract notions that are rendered meaningful or knowable only through symbols. Mass industrial societies are increasingly ruled by powerful office-holders whom people rarely encounter except in highly symbolic representations. We encounter our government or state only when it is represented in symbolic form (such as a flag and anthem) or personified in the figure of our president. Kertzer (1988:  6)  quotes one shrewd observer who remarked: ‘In electing a president, we elect “the chief symbol-maker of the land” ’—a point cogently illustrated by James McLeod (1999) in his study of US presidential election campaigns. Abélès (1988, 2005) illustrates this brilliantly in his study of former French President François Mitterrand’s use of political rituals: from the inauguration of new railway stations (with the ritual redcarpet, ribbon-cutting, wreath-laying, and choreographed speeches and handshakes) to the annual Pentecost Day ‘pilgrimage’ to the ancient hill-top of Soutré—the rural village where Mitterrand, as a young partisan during the war, hid from the Nazis. Abélès concludes that modern French society is far less ‘secular’ than is popularly assumed. He shows that truly successful leaders can even invent their own personal rituals that blend the political and the sacred. All the key elements of ritual power work here to confirm the legitimacy of the President: dramatization is combined with the suspension of ordinary time and ‘focalizing elements’ presuppose rather than demand solidarity in such a way that even the most cynical spectators become ensnared in the emotion of the performance. Participants may recognize the facile elements involved, but seem unable to escape ‘a sentimentality which, in more discursive contexts, they would probably despise’ (Abélès 1988: 399).

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8  Political Leadership, Oratory, and Power This idea of political rituals as ‘snares for thought’ was also developed in Bloch’s study (1975) of political oratory among the Merina of Madagascar. Bloch noted how, in Merina society, political leaders imbue their speeches with a repertoire of allusions, allegories, images, and metaphors that are typically confined to ‘a body of suitable illustrations, often proverbs or scriptures, which tend to be fixed, eternal and orthodox’ (Bloch 1975: 15). As political authority depends on oratorical skill, Merina political speeches are highly formalized and follow predetermined codes that Bloch (1975: 11) calls ‘linguistic rituals’. By adopting such formalized codes, Merina political leaders endow their oratory with the authority of those scriptures. The effect of shifting political discussion into this formalized register is to endow the speaker’s arguments with a sacrosanct quality. A speaker who can claim to speak with the authority of the ‘ancestors’—or ‘tradition’— can thus claim to be the mouthpiece for a higher authority (like speaking as a prophet). As Bloch (1975: 15) writes: ‘The most important social effect of this merging of the specific into the eternal and fixed is that it moves the communication to a level where disagreement is ruled out—since one cannot disagree with the right order.’ By adopting this formalized code, both speaker and listener are subjugated to their respective roles and the protocols demanded by that code and the ‘being, doing and saying’ that is appropriate to a particular settings (Rancière 1998). Despite being criticized as overly deterministic (Parkin 1984), Bloch’s (1975) notion of ‘linguistic ritual’ has been successfully used to examine the relationship between discourse and power in contemporary Western societies, including the rise of the far right, neo-liberalism, and the politics of nationalism in Europe (Gal 1991; Shore and Wright 1997, 1999; Holmes 2000). This analytical concern with oratory and power has continued in the work of Susanna Trnka (2011), who has examined the rhetorical tropes and discourses used by the political leaders of Fiji’s different military coups since the 1990s. These studies suggest that political leadership can be seen as a type of performance; a ritualized ‘socio-drama’ in which both leader and followers enter into a choreographed and often highly prescriptive social field. This approach recalls Gramsci’s work (1971) on hegemonies and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept (1977) of doxa, or the way an established political order establishes itself by becoming so naturalized that it ceases to be questioned. As Bourdieu (1977: 166) wrote, ‘it goes without saying because it comes without saying’. These themes have been developed extensively in political anthropology and the anthropology of policy, an emerging disciplinary sub-field that studies policies as political technologies and ‘techniques of the self ’ (Rose 1999) that work to construct new kinds of subjects and regimes of governance (Wedel et al. 2005; Shore, Wright and Però 2011). There is also an extensive body of anthropological literature on the themes of colonialism, hegemony, resistance, and nationalism—beyond the scope of this short

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chapter—that raises debates of importance to the study of how leadership is enacted (or resisted) in different cultural contexts (Comaroff and Comaroff 1991; Gledhill 1994; Gupta and Ferguson 1997).

9  Current and Future Directions The anthropology of political leadership typically emphasizes the wider contexts and social relations in which both leadership and followership are embedded and performed. Successful leadership entails mastering those conditions. As Bailey (1988: 5) states, ‘leadership is the art of controlling followers’. Being an art, it necessarily requires ‘cultural capital’—or talent. In developing this idea, Stanley Renshon (2000: 200) uses the term ‘leadership capital’ to highlight the way the competences and capacities for the performance of leadership are ‘deeply embedded in and reflective of the cultures in which they operate’. However, ‘successful’ leadership is a term that needs qualifying, as these capacities for domination and manipulation do not always produce positive accomplishments, as twentieth-century history shows. In this vein, several recent anthropological studies stand out as particularly interesting examples of how anthropological research on political leadership might develop in future. The first is Katherine Verdery’s book Political Lives of Dead Bodies (1999), which explores one of the most fascinating aspects of post-socialist change in Eastern Europe: the politics of dead bodies. As she observes with irony, corpses have played a powerful role in ‘animating’ the study of politics in post-socialist societies. Starting with an analysis of tearing down and erection of statues (including those of Lenin, Marx, and Bishop Micu), Verdery proceeds to analyse the way political leadership is expressed and contested through monuments and rituals, and how aspects of history are remembered or effaced from the social memory of nations struggling to reinvent their past after decades of Communist rule. Drawing on vivid examples of the politics of reburial in the former Yugoslavia, she reminds us that politics is ‘a realm of continual struggles over meaning, or signification’ (Verdery 1999: 14) and that political transformation includes ‘meanings, feelings, the sacred, ideas of morality, the nonrational—all ingredients of “legitimacy” or “regime consolidation” (that dry phrase) yet far broader than what analyses employing these terms usually provide’ (Verdery 1999: 25). This calls for a much wider conception of ‘the political’ than is normally provided by rational choice theory. As she cogently demonstrates (Verdery 1999: 26), nationalism is not simply about borders, resource competition, state-making, or ‘constructionism’; it is also part of ‘kinship, spirits, ancestor worship and the circulation of cultural treasures’ and the reconfiguring of time and space. She also shows us that the ‘political lives’ of some leaders continue long after their death. The second study is Janine Wedel’s book Shadow Elite (2009). Drawing on insights from post-socialist Eastern Europe, Wedel reveals how a similar confluence of factors (which include neo-liberal policies of deregulation and outsourcing, the end of the cold

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188  Cris Shore war, the growth of information technologies, and the ‘embrace of “truthiness” ’) enabled certain well-connected entrepreneurial individuals to shift between their publicand private-sector roles in order to exploit the new financial opportunities available to them. Labelling this new breed of players ‘flexians’, she shows how one particular group of neo-conservative cold warriors (including Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Pearl) rose to power under the Bush administration. By operating ‘at the nexus of official and private power’ (Wedel 2009: 7) and shifting between their various roles as lobbyists, ‘independent’ experts, think-tank pundits, retired military or government officials, and corporate representatives), these individuals were able to craft public policy in pursuit of personal interests, flouting the rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest and subverting the democratic process by hiding their industry connections and consultancy projects. Wedel shows how this shadow elite gained an extraordinary position of influence, co-opting public policy agendas to serve the private purposes of their benefactors. If malfeasance and criminality can shed light on the darker and less conventional dimensions of leadership, then Jane and Peter Schneider’s study of the Italian mafia should also be included among the list of ‘must-reads’. Following earlier studies by Blok (1974) and Arlacchi (1986), their work illustrates the value of combining detailed ethnography with a wider political economy perspective in order to understand the curious cultural codes and social dynamics that have both given rise to the modern Mafia and transformed its leadership. In a similar vein, Bailey’s more recent books also merit consideration. Bailey (1988: 174) argues that ‘malefaction’ and ‘villainy’ are the essentials of political leadership, as politics is inherently ‘polluting’, and political leaders everywhere are obliged to transcend the morality they recommend to others. However, in his 2001 book Treasons, Stratagems and Spoils: How Leaders Make Practical Use of Beliefs and Values, he seems optimistically surprised to find that the ‘politics of conscience’ is ‘at war with a politics of advantage’ rather more often than he expected, as iconic leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi illustrate. Finally, anthropological studies of institutions, particularly those of the European Union by Abélès (2000a, b, 2005), Holmes (2000), Shore (2000), and others have opened up new approaches to the analysis of power and leadership in international—or rather ‘supranational’—organizations. These authors have made valuable contributions to opening up for scrutiny the ‘black box’ of the European Commission and European Parliament. They have also shed light on the complex political dynamics and webs or relations that constitute the EU’s organizational culture. Like that of Bailey, their work illustrates the tensions and contradictions that exist between the formal and informal aspects of these institutions and their modus operandi. The EU institutions, as Shore (2000, 2011) has argued, have become crucibles for the formation of a new kind of political leadership: a transnational European political elite that is having a transformative effect on political leadership throughout Europe. The value of studies like those cited above is that they remind us that political leadership is a process of continuous contestation and negotiation fought over what are largely symbolic grounds. Political leadership is the art of winning and controlling followers, which, as anthropologists remind us, requires the strategic uses of morality and

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successful mobilization of rituals and symbols. If cultural forms are the bedrock of political life, they are equally the foundation upon which political leadership is constructed and performed. Anthropology’s particular contribution to the study of political leadership, beyond the ‘thick description’ of its ethnographic studies, lies in its sensitivity to context, its concern with understanding politics both from the local perspective of leaders and that of the led, and the complex, shifting contexts in which leadership occurs. Anthropology is particularly well placed to explore the meaning(s) of leadership rather than simply its form. It can also provide a useful corrective to the ethnocentric—and androcentric—assumptions that tend to characterize academic studies of political leadership in the West.

Recommended Reading Bailey, F. G. (2001). Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils: How Leaders Make Practical Use of Beliefs and Values. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Verdery, K. (1999). The political Lives of Dead Bodies:  Reburial and Postsocialist Change. New York: Columbia University Press. Wedel, J. (2009). Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market. New York: Perseus Books.

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