(Thursday, 23rd May 2024)
Title : Governance Archaeology: Collective Governance in Global History
The eighteenth-century regime of electoral republicanism within nation-states, later rebranded as “democracy,” appears to be threatened around the world, and an unappealing cadre of authoritarians has lined up to take its place. Those dissatisfied with the current governance paradigm demand meaningful inclusion in the political process. In part as a result, experiments with participatory structures are multiplying, from user-controlled social media networks like Mastodon, to citizen assemblies. These experiments fail and succeed, but we don’t know why. Their historical antecedents, moreover, are neglected. As a result, as demand for participation increases, and as the structures of representative democracy vacillate, we lack a social science of participation that might help us build resilient collective governance institutions at scale, and understand how to weave them within existing representative frameworks. In this lecture, we will report on an ongoing project of building a database of collective governance practices that emerged in historical societies around the world. By taking seriously a range of models, with a particular focus on those outside the Western canon, the project seeks to produce a global commons of collective governance practices. Our aim is twofold: to contribute to building a more robust political economic theory of collective governance, and to inspire institutional learning and experimentation, online and offline.