St Antony's International Review Call for Papers - Democratization
Call for Papers Date:
Call For Abstracts for Volume 2:2 of the St Antony’s International Review (STAIR)
The post 9/11 era and the subsequent attempts to engineer democratic transition in the context of post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan an Iraq invoke many critical questions about the nature of ‘democratisation’ and ‘democracy’, as both process and ideology. The promotion of ‘democracy’ has been vaunted as one of the panaceas of the ‘War on Terror’. Yet, across the Islamic world, elections have taken place with results that have conflicted with the ideals of pro-democracy advocates. The rise of Islamist parties such as Hamas in Palestine, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and a Shiite list in Iraq point to how elections have not had the effect of promoting pro-Western moderacy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the so-called ‘coloured revolutions’ in Georgia and the Ukraine, and the re-emergence of ‘People Power’ in the Philippines have provided a new hope for the use of strategic non-violent resistance as a vehicle for internally-led democratic change.
These new trends imply a need to reassess how we understand ‘democracy’ and ‘democratisation’. How adequate are the theories of democratisation developed in the context of the third wave of democratisation or in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War for understanding contemporary democratisation. ‘Democratisation theory’ has generally focused on developing empiricist models of the factors that promote transition and consolidation, or defining ‘procedural’ or ‘substantive’ democracy. Yet, the new trends imply a need to question the dominant assumptions that ‘democracy’ is necessarily benign in its effects and can be promoted by outsiders.
The St Antony’s International Review seeks a range of abstracts for papers that critically explore the meaning of democracy and attempt to critically reassess democratisation as a process. In particular, the issue hopes to empirically and theoretically explore three main areas:
Democracy as Process
The dominant theory attempts to ask how democracy can emerge; what factors promote transition and consolidation. This question remains of central importance. In particular, what is the relationship between internal and external factors. The ‘coloured revolutions’ suggest new hope for internally-driven change and a strong role for social movements. Is this different from the role played by social movements in Latin America or Eastern Europe during the 1980s, or are the current trends simply a re-emergence of old factors? On the other hand, is externally-led change viable, and, if so, under what conditions? What role can international organizations play in this process? NATO and the EU’s use of democratic conditionality was identified as significant in the Iberian Peninsula and in Eastern Europe during the 1980s and 1990s. The World Bank’s political conditionality was likewise identified as playing a role in Africa and Latin America during the 1990s. In the current context, can democratisation be externally driven? Crucially, what relationship is required between the domestic and the international to promote substantive democracy, and how has globalisation changed this dynamic?
Democracy as Ideology
Much of democratisation theory takes for granted that democracy is benign and that the pursuit of substantive democracy is politically ideal. Yet, this predominantly positivist approach excludes questions about the role of democracy as ideology. Yet given how dominant the ideology had become, there is a need to question the role of democracy as a discourse. Who defines the meaning of ‘democracy’ and on behalf of whom? Whose interests does it serve? Is it a U.S.-led and hegemonic process or, alternatively, is democratisation a process within which counter-hegemonic and previously excluded voices can emerge and define political outcomes? While democracy may be “the worst system except for all the others”, are there circumstances in which this mantra is open to abuse? Significantly, how, causally, do democracy and its corresponding institutions become legitimate and acceptable in the eyes of an electorate? Can an anthropological perspective contribute to critically assessing the way in which ‘democracy’ is differently interpreted or socially embedded within different cultural consequences?
Democracy and its Consequences
The pursuit of democracy has often been taken to be an ends it itself. For many political philosophers this can be justified. However, democracy also has value as a means to ensure the fulfilment of other rights. There is therefore a need to explore its relationship to a range of other themes. Firstly, what is its relationship to development? Under what conditions does democracy promote economic growth and human development? How does it affect the role of the private sector or the prospects for the provision of social services? Secondly, what is democracy’s relationship to religion? Can it be compatible with Islam? Can religion be integrated within a democratic framework? Thirdly, what is its relationship to ethnicity? Is ethnic diversity an inevitable barrier to democratisation. Or, alternatively, can federal or confederal systems be adapted to overcome voting along identity lines? What lessons do answers to these questions have for current attempts to ‘build’ democracy in, for example, Iraq? Fourthly, what role does democratic transition have in the promotion of women’s rights?
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