Going Local: A Comparative Study of the Historical Evolution of Local Civil Society Organizations

Going Local: A Comparative Study of the Historical Evolution of Local Civil Society Organizations

Expected publication date: Jan 2025

Proposed publisher is Georgetown University Press

Deadline: Tue, 18 Apr 2023

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Book/Call for Chapters Description

Civil society organizations (CSOs) have arisen organically in nearly every country and culture, serving vital social, political, and economic functions. Yet the origins and evolution of local CSOs remains under-researched, particularly for CSOs from the Global South. Academic research on local CSOs has often focused on the role of global philanthropy and national regulations, emphasizing the period from the 1970s to the 2000s when international donors sought CSOs as partners to deliver foreign aid, promote democracy, and advance human rights. However, local CSOs’ operations long predate these trends, and CSOs’ responses to these national and international trends reflect local culture and history.
For this volume, we seek to explore how local CSOs’ agency has interacted over time with national and international pressures to reshape CSOs’ operations and change the local population of CSOs. We are looking for country chapter contributions that will help readers better understand the origins and evolution of CSOs in eight to ten selected countries in an empirically nuanced fashion based on deep national narratives by local experts who can reveal layers of complexity and challenge unidirectional and linear accounts of civil society development. In so doing, we aim to not only expand our understanding of local civil society, but also promote a decolonized discourse in which the historical assumptions and approaches of Northern scholars can be challenged and debated.
By building locally informed, empirically grounded understandings of the historic evolution of local CSOs in low- and middle-income countries, we aim to capture the diverse array of types of CSOs, with different scales and degrees of formalization, found around the world. We consider why some organization types survive over time as others fade out while the nature of state-society relations, political and economic environments, national demographics, and the nature of international integration also change.

We are looking for a 500-word proposal for chapters of roughly 6,000-8,000 words to be submitted to Elizabeth Bloodgood (elizabeth.bloodgood@concordia.ca). Each chapter will be a single country narrative of the historical evolution of CSOs from beginning to present. We are seeking four to six chapters of CSO evolution in low- to middle-income countries which are underrepresented in the global literature on civil society in addition to chapters on Brazil, Ghana, Nepal, and Poland. The selected contributors will help to refine and then apply a shared framework to organize the narratives. The concluding chapter of the edited volume will compare across countries to identify common and divergent themes and outcomes for civil society evolution. Chapter contributors will be selected according to country and depth of expertise CSOs in their country. Contributors will participate in two virtual workshops in late summer and early fall to receive feedback on their chapters from other participants in the volume and relevant academic communities.  Once the list of contributors has been established, a complete proposal for the volume will be submitted to Georgetown University Press.