Erin A. Snider, "Marketing Democracy: The Political Economy of Democracy Aid in the Middle East" (Cambridge UP. 2022)

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For nearly two decades, the United States devoted more than $2 billion towards democracy promotion in the Middle East with seemingly little impact. To understand the limited impact of this aid and the decision of authoritarian regimes to allow democracy programs whose ultimate aim is to challenge the power of such regimes, Marketing Democracy: The Political Economy of Democracy Aid in the Middle East (Cambridge UP, 2022) examines the construction and practice of democracy aid in Washington DC and in Egypt and Morocco, two of the highest recipients of US democracy aid in the region. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, novel new data on the professional histories of democracy promoters, archival research and recently declassified government documents, Erin A. Snider focuses on the voices and practices of those engaged in democracy work over the last three decades to offer a new framework for understanding the political economy of democracy aid. Her research shows how democracy aid can work to strengthen rather than challenge authoritarian regimes. Marketing Democracy fundamentally challenges scholars to rethink how we study democracy aid and how the ideas of democracy that underlie democracy programs come to reflect the views of donors and recipient regimes rather than indigenous demand.

Erin A. Snider is an assistant professor of international affairs at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. She was a Carnegie Fellow with the New America Foundation, a Fulbright Fellow in Egypt, and a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. Her research focuses on the political economy of development in the Middle East, democratization, and foreign aid. Her research has been published in International Studies Quarterly, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Middle East Policy, among other outlets. She holds a PhD in politics from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar.

Lamis Abdelaaty is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is the author of Discrimination and Delegation: Explaining State Responses to Refugees (Oxford University Press, 2021). Email her comments at or tweet to @LAbdelaaty.

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