The Central China Normal University in Wuhan hosted the high profile international conference on ‘The Search for Deliberative Democracy in Asia.’
The Search for Deliberative Democracy in Asia – Exeter Contribute to High Profile Conference
On the 17 and 18 May 2019, the Central China Normal University in Wuhan hosted a high profile international conference on ‘The Search for Deliberative Democracy in Asia.’ Arranged by Prof Baogang He of Deakin University, the event was held at CCNU’s Center for China Rural Studies. The event brought together a wide variety of experts from some of the world’s best institutions, including the University of British Columbia, Stanford, Deakin, Fudan, and Zhejiang.
The University of Exeter was represented by Dr Catherine Owen, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, whose research compares the production of active citizenship in Russia and China. Dr Owen said of the visit, 'the Wuhan conference was particularly important because it brought together scholars from around the world who are studying local democratic practices in states that are either currently non-democratic at the national level, such as China and Singapore, or that have recent histories of national non-democratic governance, such as India, Japan, Indonesia and Russia. The presentations showed that public deliberation is becoming an increasingly popular method for leaders to access popular opinion on a wide variety of public policy issues, in democratic and non-democratic states alike. Lively discussions were had on the questions of whether this is a development to be unequivocally lauded, and the extent to which it enhances or undermines the legitimacy of existing governing institutions.’
The conference was an ideal place for discussions around Dr Owen’s current British Academy research project, Civic Participation from Discourse to Action in Non-Democracies: Russia and China in Comparative Perspective. The project examines the extent to which citizens participate in local government decision-making processes in these two large, middle-income, non-democratic states. Dr Owen commented ‘public participation in decision-making processes in non-democratic or semi-democratic states can be a difficult area to research due to problems of accessibility, and there are consequently relatively few people working on the subject; hence, the conference was especially useful since it provided a space for researchers to share their findings in a comparative setting and build new scholarly connections in the process.'
Exeter’s Politics and International Relations Department is home to the Centre for Advanced International Studies, a research centre of which Dr Owen is an active member. Researchers are currently engaged in a wide variety of international projects exploring how a wide variety of projects from globalisation to international relations theory.