Department or Program



This thesis investigates the relationship between anthropological scholarship on democratization and the approach think tanks have adopted to promote democracy in Egypt following the 2011 uprisings. Think tanks, as bridges between academia and policy, have not previously been studied through an anthropological lens. This thesis first presents an ethnography of two think tanks, International Crisis Group (ICG) and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), examining their institutional funding, internal organization, and stated goals. Further, I dissect the think tanks’ reports on political transition in Egypt, analyzing them alongside the nascent body of anthropological literature on democratization. My analysis identifies where the reports’ approaches to democratization align with and diverge from anthropology’s focus on emic perspectives. Points of tension between think tank and anthropological conceptions of democratization include their treatment of the following questions: how is democracy defined? Does it consist of a single set of processes and institutions, or can there be multiple successful iterations that differ from a Western understanding and are shaped by local political cultures? How do the differing genre conventions and aims of anthropological scholarship as opposed to think tank reports dictate their respective notions of democracy? This thesis will indicate where think tanks may benefit from incorporating greater anthropological sensitivity in discussions of democratic institutions such as elections, political parties, and civil society. Conversely, the thesis will consider how anthropological scholarship, while facilitating deeper and more nuanced understandings of democratic transitions, may not lend itself to pragmatic attempts at guiding democratization.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Danforth, Loring

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

One Pdf

Open Access

Available to all.