SE26
Between services and empowerment: how international organizations associate communities with the liberal concept of rights

Convenors:
Alena Thiel (Bayreuth University)
Marek Szilvasi (University of Aberdeen)
Location:
Alan Turing Building G110
Start time:
7 August, 2013 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel addresses the rising involvement of international organizations in the politics of inclusion (recognition, empowerment, and services) on behalf of vulnerable and minority groups. How do local discourses of justice play out when confronted with the liberal notion of rights?

Long abstract:

This panel addresses the rising involvement of international organizations in the politics of inclusion (recognition, empowerment, services) on behalf of vulnerable and minority groups. How is this development materializing in different contexts and to what effects? For example, research on the EU Roma policy reveals a trend of nation-states gradually withdrawing from their welfare and antidiscrimination responsibilities towards excluded and marginalized communities; at the same time, some of these responsibilities are adopted by international organizations promoting yet challenging the liberal notion of citizenship. On the other hand, market traders in Ghana creatively appropriate the language of rights brought to them by various international agencies to secure external donor funding. On the ground, however, claims are validated with reference to normative orders differing from (state) law and its premises (i.e. the notion of individual sovereignty and autonomy). This panel draws from ethnographic approaches to local experiences with the liberal concept of rights in order to move beyond simplifying institutionalist approaches and to tackle the various internal differences and disjunctions in the interaction between grassroots empowerment and policy approaches. With a focus primarily in emerging contexts, we seek to analyse contemporary ways of validating, but also contesting the proliferation of the liberal notion of citizenship and rights through the agency of international organizations. We ask, among others, how local discourses of justice play out when confronted with the liberal notion of rights. When the rights concept derives from non-state actors, under whose terms is it translated, adapted, and finally articulated or rejected?