Re-Democratization in the Globe

The international dimensions that promote or hinder democratization have been well-examined by scholars. The Arab region has long been important for democratic states on both sides of the Atlantic—the US and the EU–for reasons pertaining to economics, security, conflict, migration concerns, and more. Other states seek to influence the region through the ‘soft power’ of development aid and cooperation.

Before and since the 2011 Arab Spring, international development and financial actors have long been involved in the region, through loans, grants, and prescriptions for policy reform. Other states seek to influence the region through the ‘soft power’ of development aid and cooperation.

In the midst of Arab and global de-democratization, this project aims to understand and critically analyze Tunisia and the Arab region’s relations with global actors with an eye to re-democratization. Demos’ approach to democratic sustainability accounts for the non-linearity of political change. Democratic progress made possible by the Arab Spring seems to have been reversed across the board. However, for many in the region’s civil and academic societies, efforts in the domains of social and climate justice, expanded political participation, civic rights, gender equality continue.

The transnationalism of Tunisian and Arab civil society renders global encounters a matter of fact, not preference or avoidance. Often missing from the ‘conversation’ are systematic examinations of economic and political relations from the perspective of the region’s peoples demanding and working towards democratic change. The Re-Democratization in the Globe program emphasizes the imperative for critical understanding and assessment policies and relations that may help or hinder the various manifestations of bottom-up mobilization (hirak) that signify plural and diverse struggles toward sustainable democracy.  

Whether or not democracy remains officially on international agendas towards the region, the US, EU, other states, IMF, World Bank, etc. continue to exercise influence over the domestic and regional agendas of Arab and MENA states. One important issue calls for sophisticated attention, however: namely, reading the region’s external relationships of the region from the perspectives of its peoples and their common but varied needs and aspirations.

To this end, Re-Democratization in the Globe focuses on the external facets of re-democratization, or local efforts towards Arab democratic sustainability, through commentaries, policy papers, seminars, webinars, and reviews of policy-relevant scholarship.

The program seeks to:

·       Unpack the implications of European, US, Asian, and other international foreign policies towards the region for democratic sustainability;

·       Critically engage with EU and US policies as they relate to democracy support, capacity-building, cooperation, and knowledge-exchange of civil society in the Arab region;

·       Identify areas of fruitful knowledge exchange and capacity-building in the years of civil society support by the EU and US; and

·       Explore avenues for potential or continued cooperation between Arab civil society and academia and their international counterparts, particularly with respect to key challenges including but not limited to democracy support, development assistance, migration, etc.