November 4-6, 2019  

University of Coimbra - Portugal


Setember, 2020

Special edition of the journal CES/Contexto

the workshop




The Ph.D program in “Democracy in the Twenty-FirstCentury” of the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal, will hold a workshop on the crisis of democracy and its current challenges. The INCT - Institute of Democracy, Brazil, will be a partner.

The last 20 years have shown that those who thought that history was close to an end and that liberal democracy had prevailed were wrong. Democracy is still a highly contested phenomenon. Those who bet on the capacity of its liberal version to exhaust all possibilities of organization were mistaken  and are still unable to see the challenges that democracy is facing.

We see today different challenges to democracy: the first one is the institutional degradation from within that became part of the political scenario both in the United States as well as in new democracies (Levitsky and Ziblatt, 2018; Ruciman, 2018). The radical break with rights in Brazil, the Philippines and Hungary points in the direction of a complex process of democratic construction. There are several issues at stake in regard to new democracies: How to ground them on a stronger tradition of rights and participation (Santos and Avritzer, 2002)? How to make them more diverse (Santos and Mendes, 2017) ? How to go beyond the different forms of exclusion and inequalities within democratic systems, which have been pointed out by several social movements, including the feminists?

The second issue is related to the technological challenge. Since the beginning of modernity, changes in technology have impacted democracy (Habermas, 1989). Arguably, digital technologies have had an enormous democratizing effect, connecting people in ways that were unthinkable until recently. At the same time, however, the Internet has become a platform for the expression of hate speech, the dissemination of disinformation, and various forms of political manipulation. Furthermore, the centralization of services in the hands of a few companies and their access to users’ data have become key challenges to the right to privacy. It is known that democratic regulation may make the democratic game more even. Yet, the specific features this regulation might assume are still unclear. Specifically, how to regulate the use of digital technologies in the context of political decision-making events, such as elections and referenda, is an open issue. 

The last issue is the relation between election and participation. A decade ago this was the largest concern of democrats, namely how to supplement of deficits of democracy with new forms of participation and new actors. Though this literature has advanced during the last years (Allegretti et al, 2016) there is no relation between new experiences of social participation and the new democratic crisis. How they relate to each other will be one of the themes of the workshop.

The program will also include a Taller on practical problems in the relation between representation and participation. Selected papers will be published in a special edition of the  journal CES/Contextos.

scientific committee
Leonardo Avritzer
Leonardo Avritzer is an associate professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He graduated in political sociology at the New School for Social Research. In 1998 and 2003 he was a visiting scholar at the Department of Political Science at MIT. His Ph.D. dissertation received the New School for Social Research Albert Salomon Dissertation Award. Among Leonardo Avritzer's published books is "A Moralidade da Democracia", which received the José Albertino Rodrigues award of best book in social sciences in Brazil, in 1997. He is also the author of "Democracy and the Public Space in Latin America", published by Princeton University Press. Between 1996 and 1998 Leonardo Avritzer was the director of the Brazilian Association of Postgraduate Programs and Research in Social Sciences (ANPOCS) and was president of the Brazilian Association of Political Science (ABCP).
Giovanni Allegretti
Giovanni (Aldo Luigi) Allegretti is an architect, planner and senior researcher at the Centre for Social Studies of the Coimbra University, Portugal. Here he is among the directors of the Ph.D "Democracy in the XXI century" and he coordinates the "PEOPLEs' Observatory: Participation, Innovation and Local Powers". He is a member of the Working Group "DECIDe" at CES. Since 2001, he has been assistant professor in Town Management at the University of Florence, where he got his Ph.D in Town,Territorial and Environmental Planning. He studied in Brazil, Danmark and Japan with scholarships of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. Expert of the European Commission for the URBACT Programme, he deals with Participatory Budgets and Interactive Planning since 1998. On this subject he wrote several books. As a consultant and trainer about participatory processes, he was invited to hold professional courses by several Local Authorities (in country such Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Portugal, Senegal).
Marisa Von Bülow
Marisa von Bülow is a professor at the Political Science Institute, University of Brasilia, Brazil. She is the winner of the 2012 Luciano Tomassini International Relations Book Award, for "Building Transnational Networks: civil society and the politics of trade in the Americas" (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010). Her main research interests include: transnational networks, social movement theory, globalization and collective action repertoires, and state-civil society relations. She is the author of several articles in journals such as Mobilization and Latin American Politics and Society.
Priscila Delgado
Priscila D. Carvalho is post-doctoral researcher at the  INCT - Institute of Democracy, Brazil, currently investigating gender features of the current democratic crisis and  the reactions of rural social movements to right-wing goverments. Holds a PhD in Political Science from Federal University of Minas Gerais on transnational action of rural movements. In 2018, was a visiting scholar at University of Massachusetts - Amherst. In 2006, received an Avina Grant for Journalistic Investigation about indigenous people living in cities.
Alfredo Ramos
Alfredo Ramos holds a PhD in Political Science and a master's degree in Participatory Research, both from the Complutense University of Madrid. His main research interest includes: participatory democracy; intra-party democracy; social movements and social innovation and cultural policies. 
What is old and what is new in the crisis of representation?
Democracy is an open ended practice which allows for different kinds of criticism. Democracy has been criticized for not being democratic enough, for long-lasting exclusions and inequalities (of race, gender and so on), as well as for being too prone to lobbies and special interests. However, this crisis of democracy seems to be different than previous ones due to the attack to democratic institutions made from within the system. Papers on new aspects of the current crisis of democracy are welcome in this section of the workshop.
Can participation respond to the current crisis of democracy?
During the last decade, most of the criticism on democracy assumed that the problem in democratic practices were linked to the insufficiency of representation and or electoral practices. Nowadays we see today different dimension of the issues and rise of populist leaders with mobilization capacity.
Post-colonialism and the crisis of democracy.
Is the crisis of democracy, a crisis of both Western and non-Western democracies. Issues such as the crisis of democracy in India and the non-Western foundations of democracy will be tackled in this section. Issues such as how the crisis of democracy is different in the European and North American scenario from Asian, African and Latin American scenarios are welcome in this section of the workshop.
Technology and democracy
How to regulate and democratize social networks?
Every important technological change in the communications has had an impact on democracy. The emergence of electronic means of communication led to the radio and mass politics in the twentieth century (Habermas, 1989).
The new technological changes of the last decades have both constraining and enabling effects. They are enabling through their capacity to transform every individual into a conveyor of public communication. They are constraining by broadening the capacity of market and state to control privacy and communications. In this session, we will discuss papers on the challenging relationship between technology and democracy, including issues around regulation.
Planetary crisis: from ecological modernization to climate justice
The planetary climate and ecological crises constitute an unprecedented challenge to governments, social movements and civil society organizations. These crises reflect and contribute to aggravate the contemporary crisis of democracy. Governments are called to make emergency decisions while also safeguarding participation and equality. Movements and organizations are called to enact a Copernican revolution in political visions and strategies – away from the ineffective and neocolonial paradigm of Ecological Modernization and towards global Environmental/Climate Justice – as demonstrated by indigenous, peasant and urban movements, now striving to shape a global counter-hegemonic ecological politics (Goodman and Salleh 2013). Such a paradigm shift would entail a full realization of democracy’s equality and justice pillars. This section welcomes proposals addressing both governmental and social aspects of environmental and climate politics.
call for papers

PhD students, masters holders and young students (who have completed their undergraduate work during the last year and master students who will have their dissertation by summer 2020) interested in presenting their work at the workshop are invited to submit an abstract of max. 300 words by September,10, 2019. Submissions may include working papers or research project outlines. Prospective applicants should single out the specific area in which the presentation will fit. For submissions click here

Participants will be informed by September 5. Accepted papers presenters will be required to send their papers by October 14 (max. 10,000 words). Registration fee for the workshop is 160 euros. The registration fee includes the conference dinner, lunches and drinks. It does not include travel and accommodation expenses. All workshop participants have to register for the workshop. The organizers will offer a guided visit to 18th century library (Biblioteca Joanina) of University of Coimbra.

November - 4th
13h - Registration

14h30 - Coimbra between past and present: an introduction to the City by prof. Gonçalo Canto Moniz (Faculty of Sciences, dep. of Architecture and Planning of Coimbra University) and visit to the old University and the Joanina Library.

18h30 - Opening: Giovanni Allegretti (CES), Teresa Cravo (School of Economics of Coimbra), Leonardo Avritzer (INCT/UFMG), Marisa von Bülow (UnB)
20h15 - Dinner
November - 5th
9h - 10h Area 01 - What is old and what is new in the crisis of representation?
Keynote speakers: Leonardo Avritzer (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and André Freire (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)

10h – 12h30  Papers – Area 1, Session 1

Comments: Leonardo Avritzer and André Freire

12h30 - 13h30  Lunch

13h45 - 14h30 Area 5 -  Planetary crisis: from ecological modernization to climate justice

Keynote Speaker: Stefania Barca. Centre for Social Studies of the Coimbra University and Lund University

14h30 - 16h20 Papers – Area 5

Comments: Stefania Barca

16h20 - 16h40 Coffee break

16h40 - 17h20 Area 3 – Post-colonialism and the crisis of democracy

Keynote speaker: Maria Paula Meneses (Centre for Social Studies of the Coimbra University)

17h20 - 18h20 Papers – Area 3

Comments: Maria Paula Meneses


18h30 - 20h Round table. Practical problems in the relation between representation and participation.

José Manuel Ribeiro (Mayor of Vlongo and President of the Portuguese Network of Participatory Local Authorities)  and Fernando Pindado (Institute of Government and Public Policy, IGOP-Barcelona)

November - 6th

9h15 - 10h Area 2 - Technology and Democracy

Keynote speaker: Marisa von Bülow (Political Science Institute, University of Brasilia)


10h - 12h Papers Area 2

Comments: Marisa von Bülow


12h - 13h15 Lunch

13h15 - 14h  Area 4 - Can participation respond to the current crisis of democracy?

Keynote speaker: Giovanni Allegretti (Centre for Social Studies of the Coimbra University)

14h - 16:30h Papers – Area 4

Comments: Giovanni Allegretti

16h30 - 17h Coffee break

17h30 - 18h30 Closing session: Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Centre for Social Studies of the Coimbra University)

Click here to check the order of presentation in each area


Practical problems in the relation between representation and participation:

This workshop will be carried out by Fernando Pindado and José Manuel Pereira Ribeiro and will involve the discussion of practical problems for the deepening of democracy. The issue on how the current crisis of representation and the rise of populist leaders affect experiences of participation will also be discussed with practical examples.

José Manuel Pereira Ribeiro, Mayor of Valongo since 2017. President of Rede Portuguesa de Autarquias Participativas since 2018, Auditor Nacional de Defesa since 2018, member of the Plenary of the Conselho Económico e Social since 2018, member of the general council of ANMP - Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses since 2013. He was elected to the Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República, unicameral parliament) in the X and XI Legislatures (2006-2007; 2009-2011), e city councilor (vereador sem pelouros) in the municipality of Valongo (1998-2005)..

Fernando Pindado: Holds a Law Degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. He has promoted democratic innovations in different municipalities in Spain. From 2015 to 2019 he was Participation and Active Democracy Comissioner of Barcelona.


September 10
September 05
October 14
November 4-6
 Abstract submission deadline
Notification of decisions
Full paper submission deadline + Registration deadline
Boaventura de Sousa Santos
(CES/University of Coimbra)
Leonardo Avritzer
(Democracy Institute/Federal University of Minas Gerais)
Marisa von Bülow
(Democracy Institute/University of Brasilia)
Giovanni Allegretti
(CES/University of Coimbra)
Maria Paula Meneses
(CES/University of Coimbra)
Stefania Barca
(CES/University of Coimbra)
André Freire
(University Institute of Lisbon)
José Manuel Pereira Ribeiro
(Rede Portuguesa de Autarquias Participativas)
Fernando Pindado

Click here for pre-registration and abstract submission:

Those who have their proposals accepted will receive instructions for completing inscription and for paying the registration fee.

Financial Aid

Financial aid will be offered to participants that had their paper accepted to the workshop. 

There will be six grants:

  • three full grants including travel, registration, accommodation and food offered for participants from Africa, Latin America and Europe

- Tickets from Europe will be refunded (up to 300 Euros)

- Tickets from Africa will be refunded (up to 800 Euros)

- Tickets from Latin America will be provided by the workshop.


  • three partial grants including registration, accommodation and food.


Accommodation will be at the Residencial Botânico, Coimbra, in single or double rooms.


Demands for grants will be presented along with abstract submission and must include a previous paper/work and a short letter of presentation (max. 400 words) and reasons for  grant application - please indicate if  you have or had a scholarship (max. 200 words).

Suggested accommodation
University of Coimbra.

CES COIMBRA - Salas 1 e 2

Colégio de S. Jerónimo - Apartado 3087 3000-995 Coimbra, Portugal

Hotel Botânico Coimbra (Bairro de São José, 15, Sé Nova, 3030-207 Coimbra, Portugal)
- reduced fees for workshop participants: 38€ single room and 47€ double room
Sala dos capelos