5: Authoritarianism and civil society: Implications for organizing and mobilizing?

Corresponding coordinator: Tiina Kontinen, Academy Research Fellow, University of Jyväskylä (tiina.t.kontinen@jyu.fi)

Anja Onali, Programme Adviser, KEPA (anja.onali@kepa.fi)
Ajali Nguyahambi, Postdoctoral researcher, Universities of Dodoma & Jyväskylä

Time: Friday 17th of February, 13:00-17:30.
Place: House of Sciences and Letters, room 505.

Accounts on the decreasing spaces for civil society are increasingly heard from different parts of the globe. The authoritarian regimes as well as multi-national companies have political and economic interests to hamper critical civil society organising and mobilizing, and to limit civil society activities to mere service delivery. Simultaneously, decades-long efforts of international development NGOs have been criticized of not being able to support envisaged democratic societal transformations and promote global solidarity. Thus, in order to find radical alternatives, more and more expectations are channelled towards the small-scaled citizens’ organizing on one hand, and to the potential mass-mobilization through new social movements on the other. However, such civil society organizing and mobilizing often takes place in contexts characterized by authoritarianism at different scales and multiple situated hegemonies. In our working group we seek different ways to deal with these situations. We invite presentations from both academics and practitioners to address the potentialities and limitations of civil society activities, for example, in adaptation to authoritarianism or as an explicit challenge to it. The main aim is both to theorize on and to identify practical strategies within reach of citizens, civil society groups, NGOs, and social movements to tackle (g)localised forms of social, political, and economic authoritarianism. The working group is arranged in collaboration with the GROW-research project funded by the Academy of Finland and Finnish umbrella organization KEPA.

Session 1

13:00 Shrinking civic space – a reality for civil society organisations. Auli Starck, KEPA.

13:30 Supporting democracy in multi-ethnic Macedonia – Youth activism for multicultural democracy. Samuli Sinisalo, Kalevi Sorsa Foundation.

14:00 The role and space of civil society in Tanzania today. Ajali Nguyambi, University of Jyväskylä. 

14:30 Spaces for learning of citizenship in a Ugandan gender NGO. Tiina  Kontinen, University of Jyväskylä & Alice Nankya Ndidde, Lecturer  & Karembe  Fabian Ahimbisibwe, Makerere University.

Session 2

15:30 Religious (de)politicisation in Uganda’s 2016 elections. Henni Alava, University of Helsinki, and Jimmy Spire Ssentongo,  Uganda Martyrs University.

16:00 The development of Evocracia and the impact on alternative economy movements in Bolivia. Laura Kumpuniemi, University of Eastern Finland.

16:30 Authoritarianism and Development in Poland Today: Organizing and Mobilizing Civil Society vs. the Current Government. Pawel Leszkowicz, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and Tomasz Kitlinski, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

17:00 Dao Din student Activists: From Hope to Victims under the Thai Society of Darkness. Siwach Sripokangkul, Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Autthapon Muangming.