One Year After the Local Democracy Academy

60 researchers from 30 countries participated in the first Local Democracy Academy organized by ICLD at Umeå University, June 2019. As one year has passed, we would like to take this opportunity to reconnect and share some of the most exciting news from both the alumni and mentors.

By bringing researchers together with local governments to explore the questions of what to do, by whom, and how we can enhance local democracy, ICLD believes that new ideas and methods can be created. Here are some of the most relevant news from our alumni of researchers and their latest publications.

News from the Alumni

ICLD is excited to share announcements, accomplishments, and news from the alumni of the Local Democracy and the institutions where they work.

George Mudimu in Zimbabwe announces that “On the 23rd of June, I graduated from my doctoral studies and only few students could attend graduation due to social distancing, but I was lucky I could be there”. His research on the forms of rural politics, participation and capitalism in Zimbabwe can be accessed here.

George Mudimu, Zimbabwe

From Portugal, Sergio Barbosa reports “After my participation in ICLD Local Academy, I was awarded with two grants from the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, sponsored by Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research.  Sérgio is a PhD candidate in the program “Democracy in the Twenty-First Century” in the Centre for Social Studies (CES), at the University of Coimbra. He recently wrote an article of the use of WhatsApp for mobilization in Brazil.

Sergio Barbosa, Portugal

From Indonesia, Sudarmono Suardi Kiramang shared how the The Institute of Local Government IPDN where he works, has developed close cooperation on health and local democracy issues with students from Uganda.  His institute has also implemented different collaborations with local government in Indonesia by placing students for fieldwork in small villages.

Sudarmono Suardi Kiramang, Indonesia

From University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Viktoria Makulilo reports that she has submitted four papers for publication, including the article she presented at the Academy “Children and Youth Participation in Decision Making in Local Councils in Tanzania”.

Our alumni Aarathi Ganga, Virginia Vincent and Mashood Omotosho have been working on three articles for a special issue on rebel cities. Benjamin Gonzalez O,Brien, Angeline Sithole, and Gareth Wall have provided valuable feedback during this past year.

From San Diego State University (USA), Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien shares that he got tenured in May 2020 and will be promoted to Associate Professor this fall. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Mr. O’Brien!

From Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals in Spain, Juan Carlos Triviño reports “A year later I have incorporated many of the exercises we did in the Academy in my teaching. Not only that, learning different views about local democracy from different parts of the world has motivated me to start new research projects where I look at the local governance of immigrant integration in Spanish large and mid-sized cities. Through the Academy, I met wonderful people, great professionals, and scholars, who are passionate about local democracy. The Academy is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which I am certain had a long-lasting impact on all its participants, from teachers to students”.  

Local Democracy in times of Corona Virus and Police Violence

From Brazil, Professor Rebecca Abers reflects on the need to move beyond lockdowns and work democratically with local communities. “As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to strike poor countries, the importance of local democracy becomes clear in new ways. In urban slums, where people live in cramped housing without basic infrastructure, social distancing and handwashing often seem a distant fantasy. Conditions are extremely varied in poor communities, where many people need support to protect themselves from the virus and from its economic effects. Local organizations throughout the world have struggled to bring food and supplies to families. They have knowledge about local problems and the ability to reach households but are often ignored by local governments at a loss for how to protect their populations. They also lack resources. Governments must go beyond top-down restrictions on movement, working democratically with civil society to reach the people who most severely impacted by the crisis.”

Professor James Manor published a news article arguing that elected local councils can make strong contributions in the health sector but are currently ignored in India and Britain. Manor argues that “Local councilors can ease villagers’ fears of health professionals who brandish needles and wear strange white coats. They can achieve that because, unlike middle-class doctors and nurses, they can communicate in terms that villagers understand”

From India: Yogesh Kumar reports “We have been busy supporting migrants who travelled  to their homes in rural areas on foot due to lockdown. Many of them travelled more than 400 miles to reach home. We had written an article on that situation and demand the government to respond.”

From the USA, Professor Benjamin Gonzalez shares the news that the city council in Minneapolis voted to disband the police department and invest in community-led public safety. This is the city where George Floyd was murdered leading to countless protests around the world to end racism.  

Recent publications:

Barbosa, S. & Milan, S. (2019). “Do not harm in private chat apps: Ethical issues for research on and with WhatsApp,” Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, volume 14, number 1, pp. 49–65. doi:

Chowdhury, M.S., Ahmmed, F., Hossain, Md.I., 2019. Neoliberal Governmentality, Public Microfinance and Poverty in Bangladesh: Who are the Actual Beneficiaries? International Journal of Rural Management 15, 23–48.

Chowdhury, M.S., Ahmmed, F., Hossain, M.I., 2020. Conditionalities of Public Microfinance and the Rural Poor: Voices From the Below. Journal of International Development 32, 526–542.

Ganga, A., 2019. Citizenship at the Margins: Exploring Participation as ‘Right to the City’ in Vizhinjam, Kerala. Urbanisation 4, 77–93.

García, V & Rojas, E. (2020). G “La política de seguridad en El Salvador: la construcción del enemigo y sus efectos en la violencia y el orden social”. Revista de Estudios Sociales 73.

Gireesan, K., 2019. Mainstreaming Youth in Local Governance – Evidences from the Grassroots. pp. 204–231.

Milan, S. & Barbosa, S. (2020). Enter the WhatsApper: Reinventing digital activism at the time of chat apps. First Monday, 25(12).

O’Brien, B.G., Collingwood, L., El-Khatib, S.O., 2019. The Politics of Refuge: Sanctuary Cities, Crime, and Undocumented Immigration. Urban Affairs Review 55, 3–40.

Ribot, J., Faye, P., Turner, M.D., 2020. Climate of Anxiety in the Sahel: Emigration in Xenophobic Times. Public Culture 32, 45–75. See also the newest Film: 4-minute animation “Climate Refugees?”

Sithole, A., Lekorwe, M., 2019. Women’s Use Of Indigenous Knowledge Systems To Cope With Climate Change. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal 6, 111–119.

Three books from our mentors:

Cheema, S., 2020. Governance for Urban Services: Access, Participation, Accountability, and Transparency. Springer Nature.

Collingwood, L., O’Brien, B.G., 2019. Sanctuary Cities: The Politics of Refuge. Oxford University Press.

Sellers, J.M., Lidström, A., Bae, Y., 2020. Multilevel Democracy: How Local Institutions and Civil Society Shape the Modern State. Cambridge University Press.

Local Democracy Academy,