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The History of Institutional Change in the Kingdom of Bhutan : A Tale of Vision, Resolve, and Power

Gallenkamp, Marian

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Abstract

The Kingdom of Bhutan is probably the most understudied country in South Asia, and yet its unique history holds plenty of intriguing and scientifically important facts and aspects. In this paper due attention will be given to the development of Bhutanese institutions from the establishment of a Buddhist theocracy in the 17th century, through the establishment of hereditary monarchy at the beginning of the 20th century to the transition to democracy at the turning of the millenniums. Contextualizing the more recent events within the broader continuity of political developments in the world’s last Buddhist kingdom is of crucial importance in understanding the underlying trajectories that account for change. These trajectories, it is argued, are primarily shaped by perceptions of threat to national security, unity, and sovereignty, which manifest themselves in critical junctures upon which Bhutan’s farsighted rulers have repeatedly and deliberately come up with innovative institutional changes while at the same time retaining a crucial link with the nation’s history and tradition.

Item Type: Working paper
Series Name: Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics
Volume: 61
Number: April
Date Deposited: 31. May 2011 14:01
Date: 2011
ISBN: 1617-5069
ISSN: 1617-5069
Faculties / Institutes: Service facilities > South Asia Institute (SAI)
Subjects: 320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bhutan , democracy , institutional change , monarchy , critical juncture
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