• Collaboration, Co-Optation or Navigation? The Role of Civil Society in Disaster Governance in India

    Reetika Syal, Margit van Wessel, Sarbeswar Sahoo

    Existing research on civil society organizations (CSOs) facing restricted civic space largely focuses on the crackdown on freedoms and CSOs’ strategies to handle these restrictions, often emphasizing impact on their more confrontational public roles. However, many CSOs shape their roles through collaborative relations with government. Drawing on interviews with state agencies and CSOs, this article analyes state–CSO collaboration in the restricted civic space context of disaster risk reduction in India. Findings are that the shaping of CSOs’ roles through collaboration under conditions of restricted civic space is only partly defined by the across-the-board restrictive policies that have been the focus of much existing research on restricted civic space and its implications for CSOs.

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  • Representation by Development Organizations: Evidence From India and Implications for Inclusive Development

     Suparana Katyaini, Margit van Wessel, and Sarbeswar Sahoo

     This article focuses on development organizations’ construction of representative roles in their work at the environment–development interface and on implications of these constructions for inclusiveness. While much of the past literature on repre-sentation has dealt with electoral representation, this article highlights the impor-tance of nonelectoral representation. It follows a constructivist approach and is based on 36 in-depth interviews with the staff of different types of India-based development organizations working on disaster risk management. The article shows how development organizations in India contribute to inclusive development by representing groups that are vulnerable to disaster risk in diverse ways.

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  • Negotiating autonomy in capacity development: Addressing the inherent tension

    B. Rajeshwari, Nandini Deo, Margit van Wessel

    A central goal of capacity development is transforming participants into autonomous agents. However, there is often an inherent tension between capacity development and autonomy because capacity devel-opment programs are frequently set up to fill an externally predefined lack in capacity. In this article, we argue that this tension can be addressed when capacity development is set up to advance what we call ‘‘narrative autonomy” (Williams, 1997). Narrative autonomy centers on individuals’ narrative interpreta-tions as they reveal or create the meaning of their own identity and situation, creatively draw on avail-able materials, and discern courses of action true to these interpretations.

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We are the Civil Society Research Collective (CSRC), a group of academic researchers from the USA, India and the Netherlands.



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