Democracy, Governance and Citizenship: A Comparative Perspective of Conceptual Flow

  • Jivanta Schoettli (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This special issue of Heidelberg Papers in South Asian and Comparative Politics is the result of a two-day colloquium that took place in Heidelberg at the Internationales Wissenschafts Haus during October 2009. Thanks to funding through the project, Citizenship as Conceptual Flow : Asia in Comparative Perspective, part of the Heidelberg University, Cluster of Excellence, Asia and Europe in a Global Context, doctoral candidates and post-doctoral scholars were invited from universities across Germany and France to present and discuss papers and on-going research. A few core questions were posed as a basis for the proceedings, linking the three common themes of democracy, governance and citizenship: Do definitions and perceptions of democracy vary according to context and historical experience? Can governance be compared across time and space? How has the concept of citizenship ‘travelled’? The papers that were presented, amended and submitted have been divided into four sections. The first, “Religion and the State: implications for democracy, governance and citizenship” contains two articles that discuss the nature of secularism in Western Europe, emerging as it did within a historical context of state and nation-building projects. Both highlight challenges to western understandings and practices of secularism. In the second section titled, “Governance in post-conflict and post-colonial states”, each of the three papers examines conceptual and institutional arrangements developed to cope with conflict and transition. Section three, “Managing Diversity: legal and institutional arrangements” approaches the subject from a theoretical and empirical angle. The final section, “Exporting Institutions: democracy promotion and regional integration” consists of two papers that explore the degree to which European institutions can be transferred, either as deliberate policy (democracy promotion) or through processes of emulation (regional integration). While most of the papers in this collection are one-country studies or region-focused, there are strong comparative insights into processes of democratisation and transition that cut across time and space. Each of these studies allude to the importance of transfers between Europe and Asia, Europe and Africa, Europe and Latin America, the counter-flow between them, and perhaps increasingly, a dispersion of flow, as African countries, for example, begin to look to Asian counter-parts rather than Europe for institutional innovations. Furthermore, the contributions, either explicitly or implicitly, address the methodological and theoretical challenges of how to study and analyse hybrid forms of governance and innovative methods of citizen-making, such as the role that reconverted ex-combatants in Sierra Leone play. By bringing together a wide range of region and country-specialists, these papers reveal that divergent historical experiences, widely varied socio-economic and political contexts nevertheless yield common concerns relating to the designing of resilient institutions.


Democracy, Governance, Citizenship, Pluralism, Equality, Tolerance, Religion