17-18 May 2018
The Institute for European Studies and the Department of International Relations, along with Queen Mary's (University of London), are organising a 2 half-day research seminar on 17/18 May at the Corinthia San Gorg.
The seminar, 'Critical Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in the Mediterranean', will discuss the political, economic and social dimensions of change in the region. Please find the programme attached.
Participation is free but places are limited to 50 participants so please book early. You can book a place by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Background and Rationale
The Arab uprisings have exposed the failure of European foreign policies towards the Mediterranean region. The revolts were local as well as transnational, through social media mobilization and the so-called demonstration effect. However, there has been little correlation between trans-Mediterranean democracy promotion policies and civil society demonstrations. Instead, the Arab uprisings and their lasting consequences have displayed the inadequacies of external democracy promoters who have overlooked the roots of the uprisings, namely socio- economic inequalities, the gap between centres and peripheries, and the lack of prospects for youth.
By acting as if the uprisings embraced a Western liberal democracy model, the US and the EU have, analysts claim, ‘sided with the wrong side of history’, losing sight of the ‘contingent character of democracy’. Neoliberal economic policy recipes have also continued as before, ignoring the negative consequences they might have on the local populations, for instance by deepening inequalities or strengthening central authoritarian institutions. Demonstrations, linking political and economic demands, have continued up until this day. Transnational links in the region remain strong, for instance with transnational Islamist feminist movements, Amazigh activism across the Maghreb and linkages between anti-corruption campaign mobilizations across the Mediterranean.
Starting from an evaluation of EU foreign policies post-Arab uprisings, this research seminar will analyse similarities and differences in Mediterranean mobilisations and how the EU, but also other external democracy promoters, have responded to it. Taking stock of the need to broaden the research agenda, this seminar will consider new avenues of research and make policy recommendations for democracy promotion policy-makers. This seminar is particularly interested in providing new avenues for research from a critical international relations perspective and encourage an ability to de-centre a research agenda that has remained very Western-centric so far.
Day 1 (17 May)
14:00-14:30 - Welcoming and Presentation of the overall project
14:30-16:00 - Critical Perspectives on Democracy Promotion in the Mediterranean region:
- Secular Power Europe, colonial legacies and democracy promotion (S. Wolff, QMUL)
- EU engagement in the Mediterranean region after the Arab uprisings (R. Pace, University of Malta)
- Post-colonial perspectives on democratization and democracy promotion in the Mediterranean (D. Fenech, University of Malta)
16:15-17:45 - Changing geopolitics and regional spheres of influence:
- Qatari influence on Maghreb’s domestic politics: a practical geopolitics approach, (B. Aras, Sabanci University).
- A critical perspective on the ENP geo-politics of democracy promotion, (R. Youngs, Carnegie Europe)
- Regional activism and trans-regional mobilization in the Mediterranean, (S. Bergh, ISS)
Discussant: M. Wohfeld, Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta
18.00 - Public Event with Keynote Speaker TBC
Dinner for Panellists and Discussants
Day 2 (18 May)
09:30-11:30 - The political economy of democracy promotion in the Mediterranean region:
- Inclusion of societal actors in Euro Mediterranean trade negotiations: the cases of Morocco and Tunisia (A. Khakee, University of Malta)
- Post-Arab Spring politics: the pitfalls of globalisation’s economic and social liberalisation, (Imad Salamey, Lebanese American University)
- EU funds and their impact on the political economy of the West Bank (I. Calleja, University of Malta)
11:30-11:45 - Break
11:45-12:30 - New social and political transnational activism in the Mediterranean:
- Diasporas and migrants as agents of political change, (G. Tsouparas, Birmingham University)
- Youth agency and political engagement in the Mediterranean, (M. Catusse IREMAM Aix en Provence)
- Parliaments as democratic actors in the Mediterranean, (M. Harwood, University of Malta)
12:45-13:45 - Lunch for panellists and discussants