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Seminar: Agonistics, Pluralism and Democracy: Perspectives from the ‘Global South’

This seminar follows the PhD defense of Mr. Jimmy Spire Ssentongo on Monday October 26 and consist of a brief introduction, two presentations and a discussion with the audience. All UvH staff and students, as well as other interested guests are very welcome. Entrance is free

With: Prof. Sitharamam Kakarala – Azim Premji University, India and Dr. Jimmy Ssentongo – Martyrs University, Uganda.

Introduced and moderated by
Dr. Caroline Suransky, Dept. of Globalisation – and Dialogue Studies, University of Humanistic Studies, 


Presentation 1
Prof. Sitharamam Kakarala focuses on contemporary debates on democracy, especially those which try to question the adequacy and relevance of liberal democratic concepts in the global south. It explores hidden and inherent exclusionary dimensions of the publics in these debates. These exclusions lead to the formation of (subaltern) ‘counterpublics’; an impossibility of ‘overlapping consensus’ and the inevitability of agonistics. The presentation critically questions the potential of liberal democratic concepts, such as civil society, to drive democratic transformation, especially in the global south, where political mobilisations acquired a predominantly ‘populist’ avatar against a backdrop of overplayed identity politics (‘pluriculturalism’). What are the implications of these theoretical developments to understanding democracy in our global era?

Presentation 2
Dr. Jimmy Ssentongo addresses actual possibilities for living with differences in communities which are prone to ethnic conflict. Its primary empirical focus is on the perceptions of the residents of Kibaale district in Uganda. The district has a problematic history in which multilayered factors are play, including: identity politics, a rapid increase of new migrant residents, active ethnic pressure groups and cultural contestations. In this social context, ethnic identities were transformed and inter-ethnic violence broke out. A number of pluralism initiatives were taken to redress the situation. Ssentongo’s research shows that different pluralism initiatives can synergistically reinforce each other in their attempt to improve inter-ethnic relations. However, the sustainability of these initiatives remains unclear since it is also possible that they could aggravate identity politics by providing incentives for ethno-territorial claims and contestations of belonging.

Contactpersoon Caroline Suransky
Locatie Universiteit voor Humanistiek Kromme Nieuwegracht 29 Utrecht, zaal 1.23
Datum 27-10-2015
Openingstijden 10.00- 12.00 hrs