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Experts, mediators and brokers of the Good Governance

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Translation(s) : français

Experts, mediators and brokers of the Good Governance: a comparative approach of transnational pratices of democracy promotion

Five anthropologists, three political scientists work together in this project, which proposes a comparative analysis of how the international experts of democracy interact with the local actors who participate in the process of democratisation in countries said to be in transition. Associations, social movements, NGOs’ coalitions constitute novel political arenas which tend to spread throughout the world. Those new political institutions often have a plastic and evanescent dimension, which reinforces the idea they are not political actors. They tend to present themselves as neutral and apolitical, while they are bound to the redefinition of power relations in the societies where they are active. The research project will more precisely look at how local organisations are linked to international networks supported and funded by foreign foundations, NGOs, and international organisations. Such types of structures are presented like “networks”, but inequality and hierarchy are set up between individuals who evolve in those novel political arenas. The research will examine the notion of network in order to study how some relations of power exist between the different actors. We will define a variety of emerging political spaces and question the classical notion of state. We will focus on the shifting forms of sovereignty and legitimacy provoked by new transnational political practices.

The new political spaces create new practices, which occur at the local, national, regional and international levels. International experts and local brokers circulate in and between these locales; and they use their transnational connections to participate in the political game of their own societies. The research will propose a comparative approach on such a phenomenon and will highlight the impact of democratisation projects implemented in 8 different cases (Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Cuba, Rumania, Nigeria, Senegal, Bolivia, and Indonesia).

In a first step, we will analyse the international terminology of the “good governance” which dominates the discourses since the end of the 1980s. We will then examine the local political practices caused by such new modes of governance in order to understand their impact on the national political systems. The different case studies will deal with the local intermediaries who move in such spaces and with their strategic way of using the resource “democracy” in their political and social struggle.
Electoral situations will be given a particular attention, as they display the endeavour of the new mediators. The forums and coalitions play in particular a crucial role in the constitution of electoral commissions and in the media coverage of a possible contestation of the official results. These temporary and evanescent institutions link together local, national, regional and world organisations and may constitute powerful opposition forces at the time of a ballot. They may also produce a new constituency in their strain for leadership.

The project will be built on an empirical approach organised around 8 case studies which will require several field trips for the different researchers in order to visit the different selected countries and the headquarters of the organisations supporting and training the experts of democracy as well. A particular attention will be paid to the trainings delivered to the actors of democratisation (NGOs, foundations, international organisations…) in the transnational diffusion of a new way to conceive public life and political legitimacy. The data collected in the field will be shared and discussed between the members of the team during 3 workshops. International collaborations will be developed and reinforced and will lead to the participation of the whole team in international seminars, the organisation of conferences, and the publication of a collective book in English.

Pour plus de renseignements :

Boris PETRIC, Team leader of the project

Social Anthropologist (CNRS/EHESS, Paris)


- (ed) « US Strategies in the Russian sphere of influence» (« Stratégies US sur les marches de la Russie »), Hérodote, n°129, 2008.

- « Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan or the birth of a globalized Protectorate », Central Asian Survey, 24(3), septembre 2005.


Political Scientist (sciences po’, CERI, Paris)


- avec J.L. Briquet et P. Pels (eds.), Cultures of Voting. Essays on the ethnography of secret ballot, London, CERI-Hurst, 2006.

- « Les ingénieurs de la démocratie. Changement politique et assistance électorale en Indonésie », A contrario. Revue interdisciplinaire de sciences sociales, volume 2, n° 1, 2004, pp 6-24.


Political Scientist, IRD

Nigeria and Philippines

- « NGOs in a country without government : Islamic Movements and Aspirations to Replace the State in War-torn Somalia », in S. Ben Néfissa et al. (eds.), NGOs and Governance in the Arab World, Cairo, The American University in Cairo Press, 2005, pp.291-310.

Giorgio BLUNDO

Social Anthropologist (EHESS, Marseille)


- Everyday Corruption and the State : citizens and public officials in Africa, London, Zed Books, 2007.


Political scientist, (sciences po’, CERI, Paris)


- « From acclamation to secret ballot: the hybridization of voting performances in mexican indian communities », in JL. Briquet et P. Pels (eds.), Cultures of Voting. Essays on the ethnography of secret ballot, London, CERI-Hurst, 2006.

- « Tailleurs de démocratie : l’assistance électorale de l’ONU racontée par ses artisans », in JF. Baré (Coord.), Paroles d’experts. Études sur la pensée institutionnelle du développement, Paris, Karthala, 2006, pp. 30-56.

Laetitia ATLANI

Social Anthropologist (Paris X University)


- Humanitarian Aid in post-soviet countries : an anthropological Perspective, London, Routledge, 2007.

Alessandro MONSUTTI

Social anthropologist (Yale University)


- War and Migration : social networks and economic strategies of the Hazaras, London, Routledge, 2006.