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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(SE26)

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

Location Alan Turing Building G110
Date and Start Time 07 Aug, 2013 at 14:30

Convenors

Alena Thiel (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies) email
Marek Szilvasi (University of Aberdeen) email
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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?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Community engagement in ethnographic public health research: empowerment of rural villages in North West Pakistan to claim their Right to Food and nutrition security

Authors: Elizabeth Westaway (Independent)  email
Fiona Dykes (University of Central Lancashire)  email
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Short Abstract

Set within the context of North West Pakistan, this paper explores and evaluates the potential of utilising local, community-based Jirgas – a cultural institution composed of all men – for community engagement in research to develop nutrition interventions that address the Right to Food and nutrition security, and improve maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes.

Long Abstract

Various models of community engagement exist in public health, and the need for effective strategies is widely recognised; however community engagement in research in developing countries which capitalises on existing and culturally embedded mechanisms has not been widely explored. The aim of the study is to undertake ethnographic research in rural North West Pakistan to explore and evaluate the potential of utilising local, community-based Jirgas - a cultural institution composed of all men - for community engagement in research to develop nutrition interventions that address the Right to Food and nutrition security, and improve maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes. The three research objectives involve: exploring how the Jirga works through observation and informal conversations; looking at how the Jirga model works in engaging local communities in public health research through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews; and evaluating the use of the Jirga to shape the research agenda locally, engaging the community in research activities through suggesting possible intervention strategies to improve community health and wellbeing, and implementing and evaluating an intervention utilising 'context, mechanism, outcome' (CMO) methodology. With Jirga representation based on alliances, lineage, patronage and/or cultural value orientations, initial findings highlight the need for context-specific understandings of gender inequality, gender relations, power relations, decision-making, autonomy and agency. Hence, establishing the social reality of women and men's everyday lives in this patriarchal society is crucial for effective community engagement in research to address food insecurity and facilitate participatory planning of interventions directed to the Right to Food.

Implementing REDD+ on behalf of the environment and local well-being

Author: Julia Ziesche (Freie Universtität Berlin)  email
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Short Abstract

My paper analyses the implementation of REDD+ projects in the Amazonas State, Brazil, that manifest certain concepts of participation and agency. Central is to examine how local communities become providers of services on behalf of globally discussed ideas of environmental and social sustainability.

Long Abstract

My research reflects the implementation of REDD+ projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) in the Amazonas State, Brazil. The REDD-mechanism is being discussed internationally as an additional market mechanism for climate mitigation and adaptation for the Post-Kyoto Protocol since 2007. The idea behind it is to provide financial compensation to local communities for rendered environmental services through the protection and sustainable management of forests. Although international settlement within the United Nations has not been reached, REDD projects are being implemented based on alternative frameworks. As can be demonstrated by my analysis of projects in the state Amazonas, where environmental policies in favour of REDD have been established, collaboration between partners from private companies, transnational agencies, state governments, and representatives of Indigenous Lands or Conservational Units are generated. In this region, REDD+ supporters emphasise, firstly, the environmental benefits by reducing emissions and secondly, the social benefits for local communities in education, communication, transportation and income opportunities. However, the mechanism is also being severely criticised by social movements, not only in Brazil, as commoditization of the environment, as another form of land grab and for missing democratic processes in decision-making. Focussing on the critique, my paper questions the notions of participation and agency within these projects and tries to comprehend how local communities become providers of services on behalf of internationally discussed concepts of environmental and social sustainability.

Experiments in inclusive decision-making: the debate about 'human' and 'communal' rights in an international environmental federation

Author: Caroline Gatt (University of Aberdeen)  email
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Short Abstract

In this paper I explore the experimental efforts of environmental activists in creating an international space where liberal notions of rights are included, but where other cultural values have an equal say in shaping decision-making policy and practice.

Long Abstract

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is a federation of NGOs from around the world. One of the factors that distinguishes FoEI from other world wide environmentalist groupings is that it is broadly concerned with environmental justice. In FoEI policy-building practices, the notion of equity implies preventing, and reversing cultural imperialism. One of the FoEI missions is: "To secure the empowerment of indigenous peoples, local communities, women, groups and individuals, and to ensure public participation in decision making". In their policies-building practices within the federation, activists attempt to combine the cultural values and experiences of the different members from around the world. As a result in their statement, both 'groups' and 'individuals' are listed as requiring empowerment.

The production of artefacts in FoEI, such as the mission statement, are experiments in inclusive decision-making. An experimental attitude towards inclusion in the activists themselves is partly achieved during the international meetings where such documents are made. Here the activists' sense of identity shifts from attributional identity to relational identification. In the latter, relational identification, belonging is not defined by homogeneity. However, these experiments in inclusion are not free from work in progress failures. In this paper I explore the experimental efforts of FoEI activists in creating an international space where liberal notions of rights are included, but where other cultural values have an equal say in shaping decision-making policy and practice.

The Politics of Human Rights Discourse: Roma Self-Articulations and State Policy Event

Author: Bettina Brown  email
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Short Abstract

This paper examines the discursive entanglements of human rights discourse articulated with respect to migratory flows of 'bodies' and commerce. As such, it evinces site-specific Roma rights articulations of contestation in Germany to the Schengen Agreement.

Long Abstract

The contextual terrain within which Roma communities encounter forced expulsion and persecution by some EU leaders and citizens of member-states, exact a spatio-temporal cartography of human rights based mediation that exceed normative institutional and regulatory state-centric formations. This paper examines the discursive entanglements of human rights discourse articulated with respect to migratory flows of 'bodies' and commerce. As such, it evinces site-specific Roma community articulations of contestation in Germany to the Schengen Agreement, to nation-state constructions of subject coherence and membership, as well as the prevailing hegemonic logic of market fundamentalism in the eurozone. Roma subject trajectories are explored within the context of the European Union; Council of Europe; Amnesty International; European Roma Rights Centre, and other NGOs. Specifically, this critical inquiry invokes two alternating registers of analysis within the context of Roma rights activist practices and cooperative advocacy affiliations. The first register of analytical intervention, as constituted by a politics of mobility, examines sites of contestation by Roma transnational migrations, both political and economic, and how they relate to citizen-centric and EU membership eligibility discourse and policy implementation. The second register deploys the politics of location, as Roma-site-specific enunciation that unsettles conflicting market grid assemblages and 'social democratic values'. In this way, this ethnographic investigation interrogates the macro-political implications of human rights advocacy in connection to EU and IMF policy articulation, and Roma micro-political encounter and event.

Squatting as a radical alternative to the liberal notion of citizenship?

Author: Barbora Cernusakova (Birkbeck School of Law)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper looks into cases of squatting and the responses of the authorities in the United Kingdom to them. It explores the potential of squatting to challenge the liberal notion of citizenship. The analysis takes into account the context of austerity measures and retrogression from the provisions of affordable housing.

Long Abstract

This paper is an attempt to discuss to what extent squatting may represent a solution to those in housing need, and whether or not it amounts to a radical challenge to the liberal paradigm which effectively prioritises the protection of the right to property over the right to adequate housing. Through an analysis of responses of the authorities to squatting in the UK, we explore how squatting - frequently motivated by one's socio-economic situation - is conceptualised as a 'socially harmful phenomenon' that requires criminalisation. Such conceptualisation, we argue, is deeply rooted in liberal perspective which through a particular emphasis on the right to property protects the interests of the elites.

In the past decade, a considerable body of public policy research continued bringing up the problem of lack of affordable homes in the UK. Steady fall in the homeownership rates, residualisation of social housing, continuation of underregulated private rental have left a growing number of people in a volatile housing situation. Although squatting represents a marginal response to the housing crises it has provoked strong responses from the authorities that escalated in the coalition-government proposal to criminalise squatting. This paper will analyse the justification of this proposal and will also look at the conceptualisation of squatting in the English case law.

To explore the motivations and modalities of situations of squatters, this paper will build on the existing research on the correlation between squatting and homelessness and will bring examples of individual stories based on interviews with squatters in London.

Temporality and normative order in a Ghanaian marketplace

Author: Alena Thiel (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the overlap of different zones of temporality and their associated frames of normativity in a Ghanaian marketplace.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the overlap of different zones of temporality and their associated frames of normativity in a Ghanaian marketplace. While processes of globalization and market liberalization have long been suspected of spreading ideas of order in addition to capital and labour across the globe, much less is known about the processes of translation, creative adaptation and eventual incorporation of these ideas of order into the canon of everyday claim-making. Rejecting the notion of monochronism, I argue that Ghanaian market traders are not in a situation of "time-lag" struggling to catch up along an ever escaping stream of homogenous time (Harootunian 2010) where normative orders centred around the concept of citizenship as a rights-bearing relationship between the state and autonomous individuals gradually replace supposedly "non-modern" forms of claim-making and their authorization. Instead, in their encounter with coeval, non-capitalist time zones, ideas of order associated with the temporality of a capitalist modern present are themselves disrupted and polluted. That said, when Ghanaian market traders interact with international organizations, e.g. for securing donor funding, the liberal notion of rights at first appears to be at the core of their everyday practices. Yet, in the daily affairs of the market, it is the notions of seniority, social relatedness, responsibility for others, among others - and the authorization of claims rooted in these normative principles - that syncretically fill the imported rights-talk with actual signification.

Citizens Associated with European Societies: Liberal Rights, Equality and Management of 'Vulnerable' Roma

Author: Marek Szilvasi (University of Aberdeen)  email
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Short Abstract

The European Union, Council of Europe and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe advocate for European-wide Roma-targeted legal decrees and social policies. In my presentation, I will investigate whether and how these specific decrees and policies help Roma to access equal rights entitled to all European citizens.

Long Abstract

Following the vexation with Roma in many European societies, European organizations such as the European Union, Council of Europe and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have recently started to advocate for European-wide Roma-targeted legal decrees and social policies. One of the outcomes of such tendency is likely to be that Roma, instead of citizenship or minority provisions will enjoy a direct legal protection and policy support qua being members of a vulnerable European Roma community. The question my presentation will raise is whether with the introduction of specific Roma-targeted legal decrees and social policies, we simultaneously do not witness a tendency to build upon a somehow odd or even diverging qualifier for accessing equal rights entitled to all European citizens. In the same vein, 'Roma' as the qualifying adjective of the politics of inclusion could evoke that they, instead of being integral part, are merely associated with European societies and thus in a specific position to be allowed to move or reside. The recognition of Roma in European societies thus oscillates between concepts of strangers occupying the bottom of the heap asking for equality and foreigners relegated to the outside asking for hospitality.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

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