[URBANTH-L]CFP: IUAES Urban Anthropology Workshop: Citizenship & the Legitimacy of Governance in the Mediterranean

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Sat Nov 19 12:41:08 EST 2005

From: Giuliana Prato <G.B.Prato at kent.ac.uk>

IUAES Commission on Urban Anthropology
International Symposium
Cities of the Mediterranean: Old World Modernities in the New Millennium
Cadiz, Spain, 30 May - 2 June 2006

Citizenship and the Legitimacy of Governance in the Mediterranean Region

Italo Pardo (i.pardo at kent.ac.uk ) and Giuliana B. Prato
(g.b.prato at kent.ac.uk)
(University of Kent)

The comparative study of legitimacy has emphasized a growing gap between
citizens and their rulers, both at nation-state level and at international
level. The very nature of urban settings reflects this broader process in a
situation in which urban dynamics significantly influence national (and
international) policies. Rulers are increasingly perceived as unaccountable
and distant from what is needed and expected at grassroots level. They are
perceived to manage power according to their own agenda, and the process of
legislation and economic policies are much too often seen to be determined
by selective interests, to the advantage of powerful political and economic
groups and to the disadvantage of the rest of society. This issue is crucial
to the relationship between state and citizen. For citizens to feel engaged
in the national and local projects, law and politics must steer away, and be
seen to steer away, from obeying some arbitrary morality. They must,
instead, take up the complex cultural, political, economic and juridical
instances of citizenship. The formal aspects of citizenship, such as
political rights, must coincide and be seen to coincide with economic and
civil rights and the fundamental right to justice.

This Workshop addresses this problematic focusing on 'Citizenship and the
Legitimacy of Governance in the Mediterranean Region'. In particular, it
does so taking into account growing scepticism about the project of
'multiculturalism' in established democracies. Of course, the definition of
citizenship across society is inevitably diversified. It could be argued,
however, that in today's world we witness a displacement of citizenship,
which is reflected in three complementary processes: 1) the marginalization
of parts of existing communities; 2) the emergence of localisms; 3) the
growth of transnationalism.

In such a situation, the city has become a crucial arena for the
renegotiation of citizenship, democracy and, by extension, belonging. Across
the Mediterranean Region, recent events have brought out the problematic
that it is not enough for political and economic action to be within the
law, or to be made to fall within the law through ad hoc legislative
changes. It must be seen to be legitimate. The risk is that rulers who fail
in this crucial task, are seen as unreliable and untrustworthy by the rest
of society. Should such a failure become systematic in governance across the
spectrum and particularly the management of economic policy, it would
compound on people's actual or perceived marginality; critically, their
distrust in those who staff the relevant institutions might extend to the
institutions themselves. The consequences for the democratic order are
obvious, ramified and dangerous.

These issues are made more complex by the cultural, political and economic
problems raised by the phenomenon of immigration, visible and invisible, and
by attendant issues of security, integration and legality. Comparative
ethnographic analysis will help to clarify the key issue that it is not
enough for rulers to declare a commitment to encourage multiculturalism in
their countries. However well meant such declarations might have been, in
many cases they have been received at the grassroots as attempts by 'the
powerful' to ride roughshod over citizens' moralities, culture and
interests. Moreover, political choices across the spectrum seem to make more
difficult the coexistence of different cultures, as they de facto underpin
exclusion instead of encouraging integration. The history and tradition of
'integrated' society across the Mediterranean provides a useful background
for an informed assessment of the situation.

The major aim of this Workshop is to develop a comparative analysis bringing
together in-depth ethnographic accounts (mainly) of urban settings in the
region in order to expand on the study of the difficult relationship between
established moralities, politics, law and civil society which the convenors
have initiated, and to examine ways to address effectively the present
deficit of legitimacy. The working hypothesis is that the aforementioned
evolving situation in key Mediterranean countries stress the points that
there is often a disconnection between legislation and the application of
law; that when new legislation and policies are implemented they often have
effects unrelated to those intended; and that negotiations of legality
happen across society. Keeping in mind that the obligations of citizenship
are not necessarily confined to compliance with the law, we propose that an
empirical understanding of the situation must address the important process,
whereby the dividing line between legitimate and illegitimate behaviour, and
that between the legal and the moral, are being subjected to continuous
redefinition at various levels of society, which appears to be seriously
undermining the relationships between those who have the power to make
decisions that affect people's lives and those who have to cope with the
practical effects of such decisions. Changes in the rulers' rhetoric of what
is morally appropriate correspond to changes in the rules.

It is hoped that the collective findings of this Workshop will produce an
in-depth understanding of the exact relationship of the current protagonists
in public life to changes in the law, and of the perceived legitimacy of key
policies in the broader society. Given the geopolitical importance of the
Mediterranean Region, such an understanding could have broader theoretical
significance and applicability. The convenors plan to publish the findings
in the form of an edited volume.

Abstracts of paper proposals (250-300 words) should be sent to the Convenors
by 15 January 2006.

Furthers particulars on the Symposium can be obtained from Dr Fernando
Monge: fmonge at ih.csic.es

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