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THE FUTURE OF NGOs – CALL FOR PAPERS

Call for Papers: The Future of NGOs: incorporation, reinvention, critique?

Special issue of Critical Sociology

 

Special Issue Editors:

Sangeeta Kamat, Associate Professor, International Education, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Feyzi Ismail, Teaching Fellow, Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

The last three decades have seen a range of critical studies on NGOs, and in particular a growing body of theoretical work on the links between NGOs, the neoliberal state and social movements (Kamat 2004; Hearn 2007; Fernando 2011; Choudry and Kapoor 2013; Dauvergne and LeBaron 2014). These studies have contributed to our understanding of ‘NGOisation’ as a vital aspect of global capitalism and its crucial function in stabilising the neoliberal order. In this special issue we seek to build upon these critiques towards a theorisation that illuminates the present conjuncture of the new aid architecture – now unfolding in the context of the global financial crisis – that has further subordinated NGOs to global capital but which is also confronted by a deepening crisis of the neoliberal state (Harvey 2010; Duménil and Lévy 2011; Saad Filho 2011).

Critical Sociology (http://crs.sagepub.com/ ) invites contributions analysing the role of NGOs at this conjuncture, how they are responding to critiques and struggles against neoliberalism and whether they seek to articulate a new politics.

Since the late 1990s visible and widespread challenges to neoliberalism have taken the form of the anti-globalisation and anti-war movements, including the popular movements in Latin America and the World Social Forums, the vast mobilisations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Occupy movement, the Arab uprisings and demonstrations against austerity. In some cases the movements have led to mass strikes in workplaces and the mobilisation of trade unions. NGOs have often had an ambivalent relation to these oppositional movements, either participating on the fringes of these movements or seeking new kinds of alliances with Left or progressive politics. At the same time, the aid regime of the new millennium has undergone significant changes, with corporate entities playing a leading role in the development sector and partnering with states to enforce new rules of compliance for NGOs. In other words, NGOs today straddle both the imperialist and neoliberal ambitions of the aid regime and the popular mobilisations, which at times dominate the political landscape.

In this special issue we seek to analyse how NGOs mediate these struggles toward particular ends. How are NGOs being repositioned within contemporary capitalism, and how is the relationship between NGOs, the state and the private sector evolving? In what ways are NGOs being further co-opted by corporate power? As the neoliberal state becomes increasingly privatised on the one hand – and challenged on the other – how have NGOs analysed these times of crisis and flux? Is the general critique of neoliberalism that many NGOs also espouse leading to a new kind of politics and new political understandings within the sector? What are the factors that determine the political direction that NGOs take? Are there examples of NGOs reinventing themselves to maintain or pursue radical politics, and are they adopting new ideas and new ideologies? What kinds of new organisational alliances or strategic partnerships are being made, for example, with the political Left?

Our contention is that the existence of an organised Left makes a difference, shaping both political history and the political space that is occupied by NGOs. Where left-wing political parties have had a strong legacy, we wish to investigate the historical relationship between NGOs and the Left in order to understand the politics of NGOs in that particular context. Where NGOs have taken on traditional roles, and have been funded and professionalised, we seek to understand not only the political compulsions that influence NGOs but what kind of political alternatives are possible. The focus here is on the factors that influence one tendency or the other, with the aim of drawing general conclusions on how the work of NGOs is being reshaped both at national and global levels.

We are seeking manuscripts (8,000 words maximum) on the following themes (though not limited to these), and encourage interdisciplinary approaches:

Neoliberalism and the co-option of NGOs;

The relationship between NGOs and left-wing political parties in power;

Conflict and collaboration between NGOs and social movements;

Class, class struggle and the role of NGOs;

Questions of strategy and democracy amongst NGOs and within the sector;

Ways that NGOs are reinventing themselves and envisioning new forms of political engagement;

The role of NGOs and the global financial crisis;

Labour NGOs and trade union organising;

Development NGOs in the present aid architecture and the implications for Left politics.

 

Within this broad thematic we are interested in case studies from Latin America (e.g. Venezuela and Bolivia), where left-wing governments have been in power; South Asia (e.g. India, Nepal and Bangladesh), where Left parties and social movements have a strong presence inside and outside of government; Eastern Europe (e.g. Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo), where previous democratic transitions meant compromise between communist parties and NGOs; South East Asia (e.g. Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines), where there have been significant and sustained popular movements and workers’ strikes; and the Middle East (e.g. Egypt, Syria and Palestine), which has experienced colossal political upheaval and polarisation during and since the uprisings in 2011. In addition, we are interested in case studies documenting the work of labour NGOs and their relationship with trade union activity (e.g. China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia), and the role of NGOs in the Arab uprisings.

To submit your proposal, email the title, abstract (300 words maximum), and contact information for the primary author to Sangeeta Kamat <skamat@educ.umass.edu> and Feyzi Ismail <fi2@soas.ac.uk>, with the subject line “ATTN: SPECIAL ISSUE PROPOSAL”. All papers are subject to the standard review process at Critical Sociology.

 

Submission of abstracts: 31 May

Solicitation of full papers: 15 June

Draft paper submissions due to editors: 31 August

 

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/cfp-the-future-of-ngos-incorporation-reinvention-critique-special-issue-of-critical-sociology

 

**END**

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